Road rage is the term used for any angry, aggressive or violent behavior related to driving. This can be anything from shouting at another driver or using obscene hand gestures, to causing intentional accidents or discharging a weapon. has a reputation for some of the worst road rage in the United States. Some incidents have even ended in fatalities. Road rage can affect almost anyone. Here are some tips to help you deal with other drivers experiencing road rage, and to assist with guarding against experiencing it yourself.
Know the Signs
A strong indication of a driver experiencing road rage is erratic driving. This could mean swerving or weaving between lanes, sudden bursts of speed and sudden stops. Flashing lights, honking the horn or shouting are also warning signs; drivers might also tailgate or block another car in a fit of rage.
These signs are important to recognize, as a driver experiencing road rage should be avoided at all costs. However, you may find yourself doing one or more of these things if you become angry on the road. If you do, note that you might be losing your temper, which can put other drivers on the road, and yourself, in danger.
Being mindful while driving can help you avoid any incidents of road rage, either in yourself or others. Always be sure to use your signal before turning. Be aware of when you might be blocking another driver from turning or changing lanes. Always leave space between your car and the car in front of you. If you do make a mistake, particularly if you can tell you have angered another driver, it is always best to indicate an apology – hand gestures usually work. You may feel as though the other driver is overreacting, which may well be the case, but it is not worth risking your safety over pride.
Give Yourself Time
A great number of road rage-induced incidents can be linked back to one of the drivers trying to rush somewhere. If you are in a hurry, you may accidentally anger another driver. You may also be more easily angered yourself. The best way to avoid either of these situations is to always over-estimate your traveling time. Perhaps you could increase the time by 5 percent of your original estimate, or simply add 10 minutes to any planned journey.
Be Aware of Your Emotions
We are already warned against driving while under the inuence or when tired, which can result in punishable consequences. Driving angrily reduces your ability to make calm and rational decisions. Try checking in with yourself between sitting down in the driver’s seat and switching on the ignition. If you had a stressful morning at home or a bad day at work, take a moment to calm down before you begin driving. The same goes for on-the-road emotions. If someone behaves badly and you find yourself becoming angry, take your time and cool off. You could even pull off to the side of the road until you have calmed down.
Be Aware of Your Actions
When interacting with other drivers, try to think about how your actions could be interpreted. Making an obscene hand gesture or shouting at someone might seem like a way to relieve your feelings in the moment, but this moment could easily have repercussions. Even prolonged eye contact with another driver could be interpreted as aggressive, escalating a situation unnecessarily. If you do feel yourself endangered by another driver, the best action you can take is to avoid him or her. In cases of potential violence, you should call the police.
Consider the Consequences
If you find yourself wanting to react to someone on the road, first consider the consequences of what might happen if you do. This goes two ways: the best that could happen, and the worst. The best that could happen is perhaps that the other driver will realize he or she has upset you, and apologizes. This could make you feel a little better, but it is not much to speak of in the long run. The worst that could happen might be the other driver running you off the road, or even pulling out a gun. The risk-versus-reward factor here shows that acting on your angry impulses when driving is never worth it.
If someone is behaving badly on the road – even if he or she is showing clear signs of road rage -take a moment and consider why. Think about any moments you have lost your temper, and remember the reasons you had for doing so. Try to imagine what might make you do what the other person is doing. Perhaps they have just heard that their house was broken into, or they are rushing to the hospital. Of course, thinking better of someone does not have any effect on that person, but neither does thinking worse of them. The point of exercising empathy is that it will inuence you. You will be able to better keep your temper, and avoid becoming part of a chain reaction of road rage.