An aggressive case of road rage caused a chain-reaction crash on a California highway a few months ago. A sedan cut off a motorcycle when he tried to change lanes. The cyclist tried to kick the car, but the car swerved towards the bike and the bike pulled away. Then the car tried again, missed and hit the barrier. It then crossed the median, knocking over a white truck before spinning out in the middle of the road. The elderly man driving the truck was injured and taken to a hospital. The motorcyclist sped off.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case, as road rage seems to be increasing both in quantity and aggression.
The definition of road rage
The term “road rage” originated with a Los Angeles news station KTLA after a string of shootings occurred on several freeways in the city. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines road rage as when a driver "commits moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property; an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger of one motor vehicle on the operator or passengers of another motor vehicle".
The NHTSA distinguishes between road rage and aggressive driving. A person can be criminally charged with road rage, whereas aggressive driving is considered a traffic offense.
How to deal with road rage
It is estimated that over 80 percent of drivers have experienced road rage at one time or another. What sparks that rage can be a number of things, from a driver who makes a dangerous turn in front of us, to a driver that suddenly changes lanes without using a blinker. There is no end to the possible scenarios.
When experiencing road rage, you have to react to it with wisdom and self-control; otherwise it can escalate to a situation that all parties may regret. Here are a few tips on how to avoid and handle road rage.
Leave for your destination allowing plenty of time to get there without feeling rushed. Not feeling rushed diminishes your reaction to the actions of other drivers and makes you a safer driver. Listening to music is a good distraction. Opt for more calm music.
Think before you act. If you do get angry, think about what you could lose if you over-react. You could end up in jail, lose your job, your family, or your life.
Be rational and pull over and get out of the way of an aggressive driver.
Never use your car to act out your road rage. Enraged people honk their horns and flash their lights when experiencing road rage. Just don’t.
If someone isn’t in the car with you, pretend there is. You become a different, safer driver when responsible for someone else.
Understand that people do stupid things and that there is not anything you can do about it. Work to maintain your cool.
Avoid eye contact and ignore gestures.
Don’t take the aggression personally.
Give the aggressor the benefit of the doubt. He may be having a horrible day.
Never get out of your vehicle, as it offers protection.
Allow enough room around your vehicle so you can pull out or around, if the aggressor approaches your vehicle.
If you feel in danger, call 911.
Always try to remember that an aggressive driver is a member of someone’s family. You wouldn’t want an angry driver to take it out on any member of your family, in a similar situation. There is a lot of tension in our lives, which is why, more than ever, patience is a virtue.
Please stay safe out there.
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