We’ve all had at least one moment behind the wheel when we wonder what is going on with the driver in front of us. Why won’t they go faster? Why did they cut us off? Who gave them a driver’s license?
There’s nothing wrong with being annoyed by inconsiderate or bad drivers, but when you lose your temper, you’ve now moved past annoyance and into road rage.
What is Road Rage?
The term “road rage” is fairly recent and was coined in Los Angeles after a series of shootings happened on the freeways in the area. Drivers were mad at other drivers and taking matters into their own hands. It may sound like something that can’t happen here in Charlotte, but 37 percent of all road rage incidents involve a firearm, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Road rage happens when a driver loses their temper and it can take many forms. Obscene gestures - you know the ones, yelling, screaming obscenities, tailgating, aggressive driving, following the driver who made you mad, and getting out of your car to confront the other driver are all forms of road rage.
What to Do When You Get Road Rage
There will always be people on the road who don’t drive well or are too busy doing other things while they should be concentrating on the road. Inevitably, someone is going to make you mad. Because road rage can lead to violent and disastrous consequences, it’s better to get a handle on it before you yell your head off or cause an accident.
- Stay calm when you feel your temper rising. Acknowledge your anger.
- Take deep breaths, listen to music, or count backwards from 10 to help you calm down.
- Resist the urge to retaliate. Avoid obscene gestures or cutting off the other person to prove a point.
- Keep your distance from the other driver.
What to Do When You Cause Road Rage
Maybe your first cup of coffee hasn’t kicked in yet or you were talking on the phone while driving, but you inadvertently upset another driver on the road - pulling out in front of them, going slower than traffic, you name it. You may even be following all traffic laws, and they don’t like that you’re not getting out of their way. Whatever has happened, another driver is mad at you, and they’ve crossed over to road rage.
- Stay calm. Don’t let their aggressiveness make you drive erratically or dangerously.
- Refuse to make eye contact. They may continue making gestures or yelling but you don’t have to acknowledge them.
- Drive defensively. This isn’t the time to weave in and out of traffic or tailgate. Slow down, follow all traffic laws, and give the other cars space around you.
- Get help if the other driver won’t leave you alone. You may need to drive to a busy location or even to the police department. Keep your doors locked and your windows up.
Avoid Road Rage
Avoid getting angry or being the cause of road rage by following these simple tips.
- Drive defensively.
- Check your blind spots before changing lanes.
- Drive the speed limit.
- Pay attention at all times. Don’t let your phone, breakfast burrito, or mascara distract you.
- Be courteous. Wave when someone allows you to pull out. Wait until it’s clear before making your turn.
- Lay off your horn for minor aggravations.
- Obscene gestures are never helpful. Avoid them.
You have no control over what other people do or how they behave. You can only control yourself. Be mindful of what can cause road rage while you’re out on the road and do your best to avoid it. Everyone will be a little safer if we all calm down and show courtesy to one another.