News articles concerning road rage incidents have pointed out how people can draw themselves into a road rage incident and some of the terrible mistakes that drivers make when they try to retaliate against an aggressive driver.
An incident in California involved an enraged driver who started shooting and another driver, believing he had to defend himself, shooting back, resulting in a pitched gun battle on an interstate highway while other drivers swerved to get out of the way. Not only was the “road-rager” arrested but the other driver, who felt justified in shooting back, was surprised when he was arrested as well.
The terms “aggressive driving” and “road rage” are sometimes confusing and often used interchangeably. While an aggressive driver can become a road rager, the two are not the same. Road rage occurs when a driver snaps and tries to physically punish another driver.
Incidents of road rage have grown to epidemic proportions, and a quick Google search can turn up a surprising number of road rage incidents that happened within the past 24 hours; some even involving gunfire.
How can you avoid being the victim of a road rage incident?
There are a number of steps you can take to keep yourself from becoming a victim. The key is to avoid, as much as possible, aggravating another driver.
Pay attention to the road ahead and be aware of the drivers around you.
If you see an aggressive driver approaching in your rear-view mirror, get out of his way. Move into another lane or give him plenty of space to get around you.
Giving full attention to your driving means staying off of cell phones. Cell phone users tend to drive slower and are slower to regain speed after stopping at a red light.
Avoid driving slower than the posted speed limit and stay in the right-hand lane unless you are actually passing another driver. Keep the left lane clear for traffic that may want to pass or go faster. If you are on a two-lane road and traffic is building up behind you, pull over and allow faster traffic to pass.
Use turn signals and let other drivers know your intentions at all times.
Remember that you can’t take the right-of-way; you can only give it up to someone else. Even if you legally have the right-of-way, if someone else insists on taking it, give it to them.
Most importantly, be courteous to other drivers even if they aren’t courteous in return.
Trying to retaliate against another driver, either by honking your horn, flashing your lights, making gestures or, most dangerous of all, trying to keep another driver from passing or whatever they want to do can easily trigger a traffic game, and that can easily lead to a road rage incident. You may have experienced a traffic game in the past. For example, slowing down to shake someone tailgating only to have them pass you and then slow down trying to force you to pass.
In this situation, the other driver is trying to “teach you a lesson.” If you then try to pass and allow yourself to be drawn into this type of game, you can very quickly find yourself in a life or death struggle against an enraged driver.
The biggest mistake people make, and one that most often results in serious injury or death is stopping to confront the other driver. Remember that this person may have temporarily lost all touch with reality and may react in a way that is totally out of proportion to the incident.
If you find yourself in this type of situation, do whatever it takes to get out, including getting off the road if necessary. Don’t allow yourself to be drawn in. You are never in such a hurry that it is worth becoming the victim of road rage. Get in touch with us if you have any questions.