If you’re like most drivers, chances are you’ve experienced aggressive driving. From excessive honking to physical altercations, dangerous decisions plague our roads.
What is Road Rage?
The definition of road rage is a motorist’s angry or aggressive behavior that may be provoked by an irritating act from another motorist or pedestrian. It can include behaviors such as excessive honking, verbal insults, offensive hand gestures or dangerous driving. Road rage can lead to physical violence and, in extreme cases, even death. Cases of road rage shootings and other violent acts dominate the headlines.
Motorcycle road rage incidents can also have serious consequences. With little protection surrounding them, bikers are even more vulnerable than motorists. Although road rage games and road rage memes shed light on the matter, aggressive driving should not be taken lightly.
Road Rage Statistics
According to a 2016 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, almost 80 percent of U.S. drivers expressed excessive anger, aggression or road rage while driving at least once in the prior year. The study also revealed that over five million drivers engaged in extreme road rage incidents such as leaving their vehicle to confront another driver and even deliberately ramming into another vehicle.
Road Rage Consequences
Enraged drivers could face serious fines, points on their licenses and even jail time. Furthermore, according to the Insurance Information Institute, road rage is an exemption in many auto insurance policies. This is because damage stemming from aggressive driving is caused by risky behavior and, therefore, not considered accidental.
So the next time you’re feeling stressed behind the wheel or find yourself in the vicinity of an aggressive driver, remember these tips to help defuse the situation.
Taming Your Own Road Rage
- Leave early: Rushing makes you more likely to lose your patience and take unnecessary risks.
- Check your pride when the seatbelt clicks: The goal is always to reach your destination safely. There’s no need to win or prove anything along the way.
- Stay calm: Optimize your mindset by adjusting your seat to the perfect position, setting a comfortable climate and playing soothing music. Remember that you cannot control traffic or aggressive drivers — only your reaction to them.
- Avoid tailgating: Keep a safe stopping distance at all times, no matter how slowly the driver in front may be going. Allow an additional gap during rainy, snowy and icy conditions, or when your visibility is impaired due to factors such as fog and sun glare.
- Control your anger: When irritated by another driver, it may be tempting to wail on the horn, flash your high beams or erratically change lanes; however, doing so could escalate the situation. Even a polite honk may be misinterpreted by another driver.
- Consider the consequences: While road rage can be prosecuted as reckless driving or aggressive driving, road rage laws vary per state. In extreme cases, it could escalate into a serious accident, harassment, assault or even murder.
Dealing with Aggressive Drivers
- Avoid eye contact: Locking eyes with an aggressive driver can escalate an impersonal incident between two vehicles into a personal conflict.
- Remember no parking spot is worth fighting for. Even if you were waiting for what felt like an eternity for a prime parking space and another driver took it, let it go. Chances are the other driver didn’t see you, and starting an argument won’t resolve anything.
- Stay safe: Rather than risk the consequences of road rage, try your best to avoid conflict. Keep your doors locked and safely drive away from the angry motorist. If they confront you, head to the closest police station or dial 911.
- Report aggressive drivers: If you experience aggressive driving behavior or road rage, pull over to a safe location and dial 911 or contact your state’s aggressive driving hotline. Report the vehicle’s description, license plate number, location and travel direction. Your statement may help prevent a future tragedy.
- Set an example by being a courteous driver: Stay focused on the road and avoid distracted driving. Don’t block the passing lane or turn lane. If another driver seems eager to get out in front, let them pass you. It’s better to deal with a minor annoyance than a potentially dangerous situation.
By following these pointers and making a commitment against distracted driving, we can all Get Home Safe®.