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Escalating political and economic tensions combined with more traffic overall have combined for increased crime on American roads. Road rage incidents, particularly shootings, are on the rise. However, there are some things you can do to stay safe in road rage situations, as well as a few tips to avoid drawing the ire of an ill-tempered motorist.

What to do to stay safe during road rage when stopped

Wide shot of a highway with police cars and police tape responding to a road rage incident.
Aftermath of a deadly road rage incident in California | Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Image

Leave distance to the cars ahead

One of the scariest things about road rage is being unable to get away. When faced with road rage situations, stay safe by leaving plenty of space for the vehicle ahead. This gives you an opportunity to drive out of the situation if someone approaches your car. The added room doesn’t just give you room to swing out of line and escape, either. It also puts a few extra steps between you and the aggressor, so you’ll have more time to plan a way out.

Stay inside your vehicle with the doors locked and windows up

In addition to leaving plenty of space, you should also stay inside your vehicle and make it as difficult as possible for an assailant to get to you. Locking the doors and rolling up the windows puts additional barriers between you and the road rager.

Human nature may lead you to want to confront this person, or attempt to reason with them. But in moments of high emotion, it is better to remain safe in your car rather than face road rage in the open. If you wish to apologize for something, do so with hand gestures. Otherwise, stay in your car and avoid eye contact with the person coming toward you.

How to stay safe from road rage on the highway

A California Highway
California Highway | Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Image

Slow down and let other vehicles pass

When you encounter road rage on the highway, it’s best to slow down and let the aggressor get away from you. Generally, people with road rage are in a hurry, so letting them go on about their journey is the best course of action. However, if they are intent on a confrontation with you, take these three steps immediately:

  • Contact the authorities
  • Begin looking for mile markers, highway signs, and exits to specify your location and direction of travel
  • If you can, document the license plate and vehicle make and model for authorities
  • Activate your dash cam to save any important footage

Do not stop

When faced with road rage, you may be tempted to stop or pull off the highway to get away from the aggressor. However, this just makes it easier for the assailant to keep you nearby if they are intent on a confrontation.

Pulling off of a flowing highway to an area with traffic lights and stop signs offers ample opportunity for an aggressive driver to confront you outside the vehicle. Unless you know the precise location of a police station, you should avoid leaving the highway until the police arrive.

General tips for staying safe

Police lights on top of a squad car
Police sirens | Getty Images

Do not go to your home, workplace, or school

You should also avoid stopping at your destination when in a road rage incident. This is especially true if you’re headed toward home, work, school, or anywhere that you visit repeatedly. If you’re already on surface streets and the road rager isn’t backing down, the first step should be dialing 911.

Then, pull up the location of a nearby police station or hospital and begin heading there. The presence of authority figures will often scare off the would-be attacker and you can then immediately report the incident.

Stay safe from road rage with these tips

Of course, dealing with road rage is a highly-charged situation for all involved. Some situations can escalate to deadly outcomes. But if you find yourself on the receiving end of someone’s fury on the road, try to keep these tips in mind to help you stay safe.

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