Avoiding Road Rage
So, what can we do to avoid road rage in others or in ourselves? When motorists were surveyed, they consistently identified the following situations as ones that would anger and provoke them. Steer clear of these types of situations:
- Cutting people off. When you merge into traffic, use your turn signal and make sure you have plenty of room to enter traffic without cutting someone off. If you accidentally do cut someone off, try to apologize with an appropriate gesture, such as a hand wave. If someone cuts you off, take the high road: Slow down and give them plenty of room.
- Driving slowly in the left lane. Even if you’re driving the speed limit, if you’re in the left lane and someone wants to pass, be courteous; move over and let them pass so you don’t anger drivers behind you. The left lane is actually intended as a passing-only lane. Otherwise, you’re expected to move to the right. You might be familiar with the signs that read: keep right except to pass. Besides, if the car behind you is speeding, it just might receive some unwanted but justified attention from law enforcement. Also, if you notice a long string of cars behind you on a two-lane mountain road, find an appropriate turnout and let them pass.
- Tailgating. Drivers can really get angry when another car follows them too closely, so allow adequate room between you and the car in front of you. Follow the two-second rule: when the vehicle in front of you passes a landmark, it should take you at least two seconds to reach the same point. If you’re being tailgated, put on your turn signal and pull over to allow the vehicle to pass.
- Making obscene or provocative gestures. Never flip off another driver. Almost nothing makes other drivers angrier than an obscene gesture. Even shaking your head may anger some drivers. So be cautious and courteous—signal every time you merge or change lanes, as well as when you turn.
- Honking your horn. Your horn is intended for use in an emergency only. Don’t honk at someone who’s driving slower than you want them to or who doesn’t move quickly enough from a traffic light. It can make them angry and potentially cause an accident if other drivers try to figure out who is honking and don’t pay attention to their driving.
Aggressive Drivers – Do’s and Don’ts
If you do encounter an aggressive driver, what should you do or not do?
- Don’t engage in their aggressive behavior. Prevent a potential incident or crash by refusing to play into their anger.
- If another driver tries to pick a fight, steer clear and give them lots of room.
- Do not, under any circumstances, pull off to the side of the road and try to settle things face-to-face.
- If an angry motorist tries to get your attention, avoid making eye contact. Engaging with him or her could turn an impersonal encounter into a duel.
- If you think another driver is following you or trying to pick a fight, call the police on your cell phone.
- Drive to a place where there are lots of people, such as a police or fire station, a convenience store, or a shopping center, etc. This will often discourage the would-be aggressor from following you.
- Don’t get out of your car.
- Don’t go home until you’re sure the aggressor is gone and it’s safe.
Adjust Your Attitude
By changing your approach to driving, you can make your trip more pleasant. For many people, driving becomes a contest. If you’re a driver who allows the shortest amount of time to get to your destination and then races against time to get there, what happens when something or someone slows you down? Do you get angry? By allowing more time for your trip, you’ll be more relaxed and better equipped to handle any issues that come up. Make your trip safer by allowing extra time to get to your destination and by listening to relaxing music or books on tape.
Put yourself in the other driver’s frame of mind. Try to imagine why they’re driving aggressively; they may have a personal emergency or be an undercover police officer, a doctor, or a fireman responding to an emergency. Whatever the reason, it has nothing to do with you personally. Stay cool and let other drivers deal with their own issues. Make FIDO your mantra: Forget It, Drive On.
Finally, if you find yourself constantly angry in traffic, consider seeking professional help or counseling. Courses in anger management may help you from becoming an angry, overly aggressive driver. Self-help books on stress reduction and anger management can also be helpful.