How to put road rage in your rear view

Face to face in a supermarket isle, we’re all nice as pie. Get behind the wheel, however, and many people change in character.

Chances are high you’ve experienced road rage — as a victim, a perpetrator, or maybe both. In a general sense, road rage is any display of aggression by a driver.

Ask yourself if you’ve done any of these examples of aggressive driving:

  • Tailgating
  • Making frequent lane changes
  • Running red lights
  • Speeding
  • Not stopping for pedestrians
  • Cutting in front of other drivers
  • Shouting at other drivers
  • Gesturing vigorously at other drivers
  • Repeated horn honking

car mirror road rageThe reality is, these actions can, and often do, lead to road rage as well as to accidents and serious injuries. Not to mention, it really spoils everyone’s mood on both sides and can especially upset children.

If you think you’re prone to anger while driving:

  • Plan ahead. Allow yourself extra time.
  • Listen to your favorite relaxing and/or positive music.
  • Use alternate, less congested routes.
  • Remind yourself that being late is NOT going to kill you, but road rage COULD.

To avoid becoming an unfortunate road rage victim:

  • Be courteous. Don’t cut off drivers. When you merge, be sure you have plenty of space to do so. Use your turn signal to let other drivers know you’re coming over into their lane.
  • Don’t block the left lane. Even if you are driving the speed limit and you’re “in the right,” staying in the left lane and driving slower than others putting yourself in potential danger by making other drivers angry.
  • Don’t tailgate. Leave at least a two-second space between your vehicle and the one ahead of yours. If you believe you’re being followed too closely, signal and pull over to let the other driver pass.
  • Don’t make gestures. Even something as simple as shaking your head could be taken as a sign of frustration.

And if you find yourself confronted by an aggressive driver:

  • Move out of the way if you can safely do so.
  • Don’t challenge the aggressor. Don’t speeding up or slowing down. You don’t need to win a game that shouldn’t be played in the first place.
  • Avoid eye contact.
  • Ignore any gestures from the other driver and refrain from using any gestures yourself.
  • Just go on with your day.
  • Or, when you see serious aggressive driving, call the police. But, have a passenger make the call. If you’re alone, pull over to a safe location before calling.

Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

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