If you’ve been driving for a while, chances are you’ve encountered road rage. At other times, you could be the one guilty of the vice. It is a problem that has been a menace on our roads and seems to be worsening. It’s also a huge car safety risk that has contributed to numerous accidents and even deaths.
However, there are ways to deescalate a road rage situation before it becomes catastrophic. You can also take steps to avoid being the threat every other driver hates encountering on the road.
What is road rage?
Road rage is a habit characterized by intentional aggressive driving without caring about other road users. It manifests in numerous ways, such as rude gestures, cutting off other cars without warning or apology, braking suddenly in front of other cars, and sometimes even violence.
There are many causes for road rage. At the very root, bouts of anger, distractions, and stress cause people to cross the line and drive dangerously. They could then commit several traffic violations that gravely endanger other road users.
A recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report depicts the catastrophic nature of road rage. According to DriversEd.com, the NHTSA estimates that human error causes more than 94% of car crashes. Within that category is aggressive driving. In fact, it’s such a serious issue that it’s believed to cause nearly one in every three crashes.
It’s common for road rage victims to retaliate, which often causes a further escalation of an already dangerous situation. People make decisions they would not otherwise make when they feel anxious, including extending a pointless conflict. Some can try to run the aggressive driver off the road or even block their right of way. This further increases the chances of an accident.
Sometimes, the road rage incident can escalate to something more than a crash. A third of the incidents involve individuals who may have firearms in their cars, as DriversEd.com reported. The site indicates that up to 30 murders every year are connected to road rage. This mostly occurs when the individuals involved use firearms to solve their traffic disputes and sometimes even follow the other motorist home in a quest for revenge.
How to prevent road rage
One of the ways you can prevent yourself from being a road rager is by leaving early for your destination. Lateness can make you anxious and likelier to take unimportant risks. Also, avoid overreacting and triggering other drivers. For instance, if someone ahead of you is driving slowly, they might be trying to figure out the road or the area. It’s better to go around them rather than tailgate or honk out of frustration.
The use of appropriate hand gestures can also help you communicate amicably with other drivers without triggering aggressive behavior. For instance, you can wave to appreciate a driver who slows down for you to overtake them. Additionally, avoid stopping to confront another driver, as such could make the situation hazardous for everyone.
How to calm the situation
Road rage situations can catch you unawares. However, this is not an excuse to retaliate and worsen the situation. Change lanes safely, reduce your speed gradually, or even exit the highway to stay away from a road rager.
You should also avoid making eye contact or showing signs of escalating the conflict. Additionally, whatever you do, don’t stop for a person-to-person confrontation with the aggressive driver. Keep driving with your doors locked. And if you’re worried about the other motorist following you, drive to the nearest police station.