In a society of frequent commutes on congested highways, road rage seems to be fairly common (either through direct experience or news reports). Many accidents on the highways and streets are due to drivers’ inability to control their temper while behind the wheel. Road rage encompasses a variety of aggressive behaviors (shouting, screaming, yelling and using a weapon to inflict harm to the victim) by the driver of a motor vehicle.
A study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported that nearly 80% of drivers expressed significant anger behind the wheel at least once in 2015. But, the most alarming revelation is that 8 million US drivers were reported to engage in extreme examples of road rage, such as purposefully ramming another vehicle.
So, how do you avoid being a victim of road rage?
Do Not Offend
Protect yourself by not exacerbating the situation. Be the better person. There are specific behaviors that have the potential to enrage other drivers:
1. Cutting Someone Off – Ensure that you have plenty of room when you are merging lanes and use your turn signal before making a move. If you made a mistake by accidentally cutting someone off, apologize with an appropriate gesture to the other driver. If you happen to be cut off, slow down and give the other driver room to merge into your lane.
2. Driving Slowly in the Left Lane – If you are in the left lane and another car wants to pass, move over and let them by.
3. Tailgating – Allow at least a two-second space between your vehicle and the car ahead. If another car is driving slowly, then pull back and allow more space so you can pass. If you feel you are being followed closely, signal and pull over to allow the other driver to go by.
4. Gestures – Always keep your hands and attention on the wheel. Be a cautious and courteous driver.
Yield When Necessary
It’s never a given that others will follow the rules of the road, so it’s best if you can avoid insisting on your own right of way if another driver tries to challenge you.
Robert Schaller wrote in his RoadTripAmerica post about the ‘Yield Anyway!’ strategy that even if you have the right of way, it’s best to give way to the other driver to prevent being hurt. Schaller wrote it as a defensive driving practice and not as a traffic law.
There are times when the right of way rules are misunderstood and not clear to everyone. He suggests: “If there is uncertainty about which vehicle should have the right of way, give the other guy the road. When it comes to driving safely, it’s not the principle, but the outcome, that counts.”
Take a Defensive Driving Course
You may be surprised after signing up for a defensive driving course that some of your road habits may be leading you to accidents and problems on the road. Even the basic vital driving habits can be forgotten by overconfidence as “we all think we’re good drivers.”
Consider the money invested on this type of training as a way to save you money by avoiding fines associated with speeding tickets or other traffic misdemeanors. There are driving safety courses you can take online that can help you with your driving etiquette and increase your overall safety awareness on the road.
How to handle an accident
Road rage is inevitable. Even if you are prepared to handle the situation, you won’t be able to control how the other driver will react.
If you happen to be involved in a road rage accident, it’s important to inform people of your whereabouts, the situation, and how they will be able to help. This is extremely critical for those drivers in fleet businesses to ensure they are on track with a delivery, service call or appointment.
When on the road, remember the basic rule of Confucius: “Do not do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.” Condemning or engaging an enraged driver in any manner can not only prove to be dangerous and cause accidents, but also can impact your personal health in the long run as accumulated stress can lead to chronic health conditions. So it’s always best to stay calm and keep your eyes on the road!
About the Author
Ask JenB is a full-time daycare tutor and a seasoned traveler during her spare time. She loves driving or riding her Vespa scooter. JenB also loves attending auto shows in the US and abroad.
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