Road rage – how to avoid potentially dangerous situations
Road rage is a term coined during the 1990s when aggressive driving behaviour spilled over into anti-social interactions between drivers. Most people who drive on a daily basis experience road rage. Most of it involves impatient drivers coming up too close, gesticulating, or overtaking on the inside.
For some motorists, however, road rage can prove fatal. Two men, one 67 and the other 73 were involved in a road rage incident in early October 2014 near Birmingham. After stopping their cars, the two men argued and one pushed the other to the ground. The 73-year old sustained serious head injuries and died 10 days later; the other man was arrested. This is an extreme example but one that serves as a warning of what can happen when road rage strikes ordinary motorists. So how can you avoid experiencing road rage, and what should you do if you encounter it in someone else?
Avoiding road rage
Many ordinary people become monsters when behind the wheel. Often it is because we put ourselves under too much pressure to fit too many things in. Avoiding road rage maybe simply a matter of reducing the pressure you put yourself under. Try these top tips to stay calm when you are at the wheel:
- Allow yourself plenty of time – leaving just enough time to get to your destination assuming you will have a clear run all the way is a recipe for stress and frustration. Any minor hold ups and you will know you are late.
- Take plenty of breaks – tiredness is the number one cause of road rage, so stop and take regular breaks on long journeys.
- Don’t vent your mood through your driving – never drive if you are already angry. Starting a journey when you’ve just had a row with someone is dangerous and will seriously impair your judgment.
- Choose your music carefully – an aggressive, upbeat track will hype you up and make you more likely to react aggressively to situations. Choose talk radio or calmer music to keep your cool.
- Remember it’s not your road – we all share the roads, and a little courtesy goes a long way, so step back off the accelerator and let people out when you can. You’ll all get there in the end.
- Remember they can’t hear you – yelling at other drivers is pointless if they are in another car. All you’ll do is drive up your blood pressure and make yourself feel worse.
- Don’t take it personally – its important to remember that bad driving isn’t aimed specifically at you, so don’t take personal offence or feel disrespected. The other driver may simply be distracted, or be having a bad day, so don’t let their mood change your mood.
- Treat other drivers like you would fellow shoppers – most people do not jostle people in the queue ahead of them and gesticulate and shout if things move slowly. They just wait in line until it’s their turn. Do the same in a traffic jam.
Avoiding other people’s road rage
Of course, you can be as calm as you like; it won’t stop other drivers from getting angry with you. However, there are several things you can do to avoid getting involved or putting yourself in a dangerous situation.
- Avoid responding – don’t shout or gesture back at them as this can quickly escalate things.
- Avoid eye contact – if possible avoid getting involved at all. Simply drive on and ignore them.
- Stay calm – rising to the bait and getting involved in an angry race to prove a point is simply dangerous.
- Get out of their way – most road ragers are simply in a rush, so if you get out of their way, they will normally leave you be.
- Stay safe – if you do feel threatened, intimidated or followed, stay where you can be seen, or drive to a police station to seek help.
- Never get out of the car – if another driver approaches you when your car is stationary and you can’t drive out of trouble, lock the doors and windows and stay put. Call 999 for help if the other driver persists or tries to damage the car.
At the end of the day, it’s simply a matter of ‘do unto others’ on the road. If we all treated other drivers in the same way we would like to be treated ourselves, the roads would be a much calmer, and safer place.