You’re on your way home from work after putting in far too many hours of overtime, and you hit a traffic jam – REALLY?! Really though, driving can be very stressful and leave you feeling angry behind the wheel. This buildup of anger could lead to aggressive driving, distracted driving, or worse, an accident.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that aggressive driving played a role in 56% of fatal crashes over a five-year period – that’s over half of all fatal crashes! Aggressive driving can be prevented.
By recognizing the most common forms of road rage, you can train yourself how to stay calm in various situations and how to react when confronted with an aggressive driver:
- Honking in frustration
- Making angry gestures
- Trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes
- Cutting off another vehicle on purpose
- Exiting the vehicle to confront another driver
- Bumping or hitting another vehicle intentionally
- Illegal driving on road shoulder, in ditch or on sidewalk or median
- Passing where prohibited
Tips to Avoid a Road Rage Accident
Before You Get Behind the Wheel
- Leave on time. If you’re in a hurry, traffic could become even more frustrating. With more time you’ll feel less rushed and have less of a reason to get upset at other drivers.
- Cool down. If you’re upset before driving, take some time to take a deep breath and calm down. That anger will only carry through onto the road.
Things to Remember While Driving
- Be considerate of other drivers. If someone is driving slow, think of these scenarios: what if they’re lost? What if it’s a teens first winter driving in the snow? If someone is driving fast: what if a pregnant mother is trying to reach the hospital with her unborn child?
- Don’t tailgate. Give the driver ahead of you adequate space between your vehicles, no matter how slow they are driving. You can pass them properly when the opportunity arises, but you should never risk getting into a fender bender.
- Lay off the horn. Honking out of anger won’t solve anything, it will only increase the stress and confusion of other drivers on the road.
- Watch your hand gestures. Keep gestures positive – say, giving a thumbs up to a driver who lets you in when merging.
- Never exit the vehicle to confront another driver. Approaching a complete stranger in a hostile manner could lead to a dangerous situation for everyone involved.
If Another Driver is Acting Aggressively
- Keep your distance. Safely change to the furthest lane away from the aggressive driver and slow down to create a safe distance between your vehicle and theirs.
- Don’t reciprocate. Resist the urge to respond to the aggressive driver as this could escalate the situation. Avoid making any eye contact.
- Keep moving. Never stop your vehicle when a driver has been acting aggressively towards you, this could lead to a dangerous person-to-person confrontation.
- Be cautious. If you’re worried another driver is following you to your destination, keep your doors locked and drive to the nearest police station.
Road rage comes in different shapes and sizes – all of which are dangerous. Just remember, whether you got home a few minutes late or missed that green light, in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really change the outcome of your drive. You still made it to your destination, and tomorrow is a new day!
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