No one likes getting cut off in traffic or the feeling of a tailgater trailing closely behind. When those feelings cross the line from irritation to retaliatory action, that’s road rage. Road rage, as most of us know, is significant anger and/or aggression directed toward one driver by another. It can be in the form of insults, gestures, physical attacks, and even dangerous driving maneuvers that can run you off the road.
Road rage is a form of distracted driving that can lead to collisions, injuries, and even death. Knowing how to keep your cool behind the wheel, and what to do if you are targeted by road rage, will help prevent accidents and bring you safely back home.
Road rage is more common than you think.
The majority of American drivers – almost 80 percent – admitted to aggressive driving or feelings of road rage in 2019, according to the AAA Foundation. The Foundation’s analysis of 10,000+ road rage incidents over 7 years revealed 12,610 injuries and 218 deaths. Road rage is a factor in more than half of all fatal collisions.
Know the causes of road rage.
There are many triggers for road rage. Most often, aggressive behavior stems from angry emotions that get out of hand due to situational circumstances, such as traffic conditions, or the driver’s own mental state.
- Road rage can be a habitual or learned behavior. Drivers may be in the habit of yelling at cars that cut them off. They may perceive the behavior as normal.
- Cars provide a layer of anonymity that makes it easy to “rage.” In road rage incidents, drivers do not see another person; they see a vehicle. As a result, they don’t think of the individual/family they will be affecting when they lash out at another driver.
- Drivers who “rage” may have a disregard for the law. They may be speeders and tailgaters, and have the perception that they are above the law.
- Traffic congestion and delays can cause road rage. Drivers who are running late are more likely to get upset during heavy traffic conditions.
- Distracted driving may prompt road rage. Drivers on their cell phones could contribute to road rage reactions when they don’t move as planned through traffic.
Know how to prevent road rage.
You don’t have to be an aggressive driver to experience road rage. It can happen to anyone! Here are some ways to stay cool behind the wheel.
- Make sure that you’re well-rested and ready to drive. Get enough sleep. Limit alcohol intake. If you’ll be traveling long distances, take time for regular stops to recharge.
- Leave plenty of time for your trip. Drivers who leave early are less likely to be stressed about traffic congestion or angry at other drivers who may delay the journey.
- Play soothing music. Set the mood for a relaxing trip with a soothing soundtrack.
- Don’t honk or yell. Raising your voice and honking your horn only serves to escalate a situation.
- Don’t tailgate. Leaving enough space between you and other cars helps prevent incidents that can lead to road rage.
- Remember to show some empathy. Everyone has a bad day now and again. Give your fellow driver the benefit of the doubt. He/she may not have meant to cut you off.
Know what to do If you’re a victim of road rage.
It can be frightening if you are the target of road rage. The most important thing to remember is to keep your cool, and follow these suggestions.
- Don’t return gestures. Don’t make eye contact. Engaging with an angry driver only escalates the potential for road rage. Keep your eyes on the road and, if possible, distance yourself from aggressive drivers.
- If you’re being tailgated, switch lanes. Try to move out of range of the other driver. Do not slam on the brakes to get them to back off. That tactic is dangerous.
- Stay behind an aggressive driver. Being in front of an aggressive driver puts you in their field of vision. Moving behind, and lengthening your distance, can help.
- Don’t pull over and stop. Unless you are stopping at a stoplight or stop sign, do not stop. Stopping your car is the precursor to engaging with the other driver—something that you do not want to do.
- If the harassment continues, pull into a police station. There may be times when you cannot shake the aggressive driver. In those cases, the best tactic is to head to the nearest police station.
Look out for road rage during these high-travel months.
Any time there is traffic and congestion on the roads is a time that could trigger road rage. The summer months, and especially August, have been shown to be prone to incidents of road rage. Similarly, holiday travel in December with its associated congestion, traffic delays, and inclement weather, can produce the conditions ripe for road rage.
Plan your travel accordingly and follow these tips to help keep you and your family safe.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.
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