News articles about road rage incidents have pointed out how people can get caught up in a road rage incident and some of the terrible mistakes drivers make when trying to retaliate against an aggressive driver.
An incident in California involved an enraged driver who began shooting at another driver, believing he had to defend himself, firing back, leading to a shootout on an interstate highway while other drivers swerved to get off the road. Not only was the enraged driver arrested but the other driver, who felt justified in shooting back, was surprised when he too was arrested.
The terms “aggressive driving” and “road rage” are sometimes confusing and are often used interchangeably. While an aggressive driver can turn into an angry driver, the two are not the same. Road rage occurs when one driver tries to physically punish another driver.
Road rage incidents have reached epidemic proportions and a quick Google search can reveal a shocking number of road rage incidents that occurred in the last 24 hours; some even involve gunshots.
How can you avoid being the victim of a road rage incident?
There are a number of steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim. The key is to avoid, as much as possible, aggravating another driver.
Pay attention to the road ahead and be aware of drivers around you.
If you see an aggressive driver approaching in your rear view mirror, get out of the way. Move to another lane or give him enough room to move.
Paying full attention to your driving means staying away from cell phones. Cell phone users tend to drive more slowly and are slower to pick up speed after stopping at a red light.
Avoid driving slower than the posted speed limit and stay in the right lane unless you are passing another driver. Keep the left lane clear for traffic that may want to pass or go faster. If you are on a two-lane highway and traffic is backing up behind you, change lanes and allow faster traffic to pass.
Use your turn signals and let other drivers know your intentions at all times.
Remember that you cannot take the right of way; you can only give it to someone else. Even if you legally have the right-of-way, if someone else insists on taking it, you give it to them.
The most important thing is to be courteous to other drivers, even if they aren’t courteous in return.
Trying to retaliate against another driver by honking your horn, flashing your lights, gesturing, or most dangerous of all, trying to bar another driver from passing or whatever you want to do can easily trigger a game of traffic and that can easily lead to a road rage incident. You may have experienced a traffic game in the past. For example, slowing down to shake someone queuing up just for them to pass and then slowing down trying to force them past.
In this situation, the other driver is trying to “teach you a lesson.” If you then try to pass and get caught up in these types of games, you can quickly find yourself in a life and death situation against an enraged driver.
The biggest mistake people make, often resulting in serious injury or death, is stopping to face the other driver. Remember that this person may have temporarily lost all contact with reality and reacted out of all proportion to the incident.