We’ve all been there- whether we’ve fallen victim to a crazy driver who just cut us off, or you weren’t having a good day and decided to take it out on other drivers. We’ve seen what can happen afterwards. It’s important to know how to avoid road rage, and it’s just as important to know how to react if it happens around you. Below are some tips on how to protect yourself on the roadways.
- Don’t rush and leave early! Being late is one of the number one reasons people give for reckless driving. Being in a rush can cause you to speed, cut off other drivers, tailgate and weave through traffic. Driving behaviors like this tend to upset those around you, and thus, make you vulnerable to people with road rage.
- Cool off. Listening to music that you enjoy can put you in a good mood and allow you to focus on the road and those around you.
- Give others a break. If someone is trying to merge in front of you, let them. It’s not a race! You have no more “right” to be in that lane than the other person, and it’s not “wrong” for them to get off one highway onto the one you’re driving on. This is called the “zipper merge,” where cars that are merging come into your lane one-by-one. Most transportation departments encourage the “zipper merge” and consider it the proper method of merging.
- Ignore them. Don’t make eye contact with an angry driver or someone who appears to have road rage. Stay back, give them space, and don’t encourage their behavior by noticing them. If you think you did something wrong, it’s okay. Don’t try apologizing. The driver might not understand what you’re saying, they may be acting irrationally, and your apology could escalate the situation.
- Don’t be offended. If a driver “flips you off,” yells profanities, or makes any offensive gesture, don’t let it bother you. Keep driving as if you didn’t notice, and don’t return any signals back to the other driver.
- Don’t use your horn unless it’s necessary. Avoid honking at someone just because you’re upset. I know it’s very tempting to lay on the horn every time someone cuts you off, but if no one is in danger, lay off the horn. The horn is a very important tool in your vehicle, and it shouldn’t be abused. It can frighten other drivers and even cause an accident if someone is so startled that they swerve into someone. If a driver is acting erratically and you believe other people could be hit by them, then certainly use your horn and alert those around you. The key is to use discretion.
- Don’t take other drivers’ actions personally. It’s not you, it’s them. Emotions can get the best of us when we’re on the roadways, but it’s important to remember that you will likely never or see (or recognize them) ever again. Their actions towards you aren’t personal, and you shouldn’t take it that way. Chances are, the other driver is just trying to get to where he or she is going as fast as possible, and you just happen to be in the way. Let them through, shrug it off, and turn on some smooth jams.
- Go to police! This could, perhaps, be the most important thing to remember when dealing with someone with road rage. If another driver begins to follow you, do not drive home. Go to the nearest police station or sheriff’s office immediately. Do not stop on the side of the road or go to the nearest parking lot. Call 911 if you’re in danger, tell them what is happening and that you are on your way, and drive directly to the nearest police station.