If you have ever driven on a public roadway, you have likely been frustrated at some point. Perhaps someone cut you off, ran a stop sign next to you, merged improperly, etc. But the line between irritation and road rage is where the situation can get dangerous.
What is Road Rage?
Road rage is explosive anger caused by inconveniences and incidents that occur while driving. The raging driver believes that they have been wronged in some way, and they take revenge on the perceived wrongdoer. Most instances of road rage result in shouting expletives and flipping ‘the bird’ and nothing more. This is not always the case. Historically, road rage has led to violence around 12,610 injuries and 218 murders have been the result of road rage in the past 7 years. These numbers are not to scare you but to illustrate the realities and possibilities of taking escalatory actions against strangers on the road.
What are forms of Road Rage?
When someone feels disrespected on the road, it is hard to say exactly how someone will react. Some of the most common forms of road rage include:
- Following the perceived wrongdoer
- Blocking traffic
- Purposely cutting off other cars
- Intentional ramming
- Driving on the sidewalk
What are the causes of Road Rage?
Road rage does not generally stem from something that happened on the road. We can be feeling upset over something that happened at work, or with a friend or partner. Often, road rage is nothing more than an initial reaction, triggered by the irresponsible behavior of others.
It is hard to say what will set someone off exactly, some of the most common factors are:
- Heavy traffic: no one enjoys sitting in traffic, but seriously impatient drivers get frustrated quicker; a small inconvenience may set this type of person off easily.
- Anonymity: The road is much like the internet in the sense that you can interact with someone and likely will never see them again. Making you less apprehensive about honking, gesturing, or cutting off.
- Texting/Distracted Driving: Watching another driver that is obviously distracted, cutting you off, swerving, or otherwise driving erratically can be a scary sight, which can result in anger towards the distracted driver.
How can I prevent Road Rage?
- Leave Early: Give yourself time to get to your next location, you might have to leave a few minutes early – giving yourself time to not rush, speed, or drive erratically, will make a difference in your day and everyone around you.
- Cool down: If you have an argument or upset from something happening at work or home, be sure to give yourself time to cool down before getting behind the wheel.
- Do not tailgate: Maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.
- No honking: Avoid using your horn to say “hello” to a pedestrian. The driver in front of you might think you are honking at them.
- No Lane-Blocking: Don’t block the passing lane. Stay out of the far-left lane if other traffic wants to drive faster, and yield to the right for any vehicle that wants to pass.
- Have empathy: There is not one person on this earth that is perfect, not even you. No one is out to get you, so don’t take everything so personally. Put yourself in their shoes – for example, if someone is driving slowly, they may be lost. There are always two sides to a story, don’t be so quick to judge.
What if I am a victim of Road Rage?
To eliminate the risk of confrontation of someone else’s road rage:
- Stay Calm: Try not to provoke the driver with rude gestures, brake checking, or blocking them.
- Keep a safe distance: Try to avoid an erratic driver. Do not speed or weave in-and-out of traffic to get away, but try to steer clear, if possible.
- Do NOT stop: Stopping in a parking lot can be interpreted as an invitation to a face-to-face, which could escalate to violence.
- Stop at the Police Station: If you are being tailgated, harassed, or followed by a raging driver, one of the most surefire ways of losing them is to pull into a police station. More than likely, they will go along their merry way. If they do follow you, notify the police that an aggressive driver has followed you there.
Stay safe out there. If you find yourself the victim of road rage, know who to call, call Tad 417-865-4400