Nobody sets out thinking they’ll rage at another driver or be a victim of road rage, but it happens. There’s no denying that driving, especially in the city, has become incredibly stressful in recent years. It’s partly due to the increasing number of vehicles on the road and partly due to our increasingly hectic and stressful lifestyles.
Some drivers seem to be in a massive hurry to get to their destination and the slightest obstacle in their way can trigger a road rage incident. Sometimes, road rage may be triggered by something that happened earlier in the day and has been simmering, just waiting to explode.
Common Causes Of Road Rage
Running late is one of the most common causes of road rage. Traffic delays or looking for a parking space are just as likely to spark a road rage incident.
Disregard for the law and for others is another common cause of road rage. Some drivers think road rules apply to others and not to them. For these drivers, aggressive driving tends to be the norm, and road rage can be triggered for no reason at all.
Regardless of the exact cause, road rage is dangerous, both for the perpetrator and the victim. The victim can suffer serious physical injuries and mental trauma while the perpetrator could be held liable to pay compensation to the victim.
How To Control Road Rage
Learning how to control and avoid road rage is a critical road safety skill and the following tips should help you either as the offender or the victim.
Give Yourself Sufficient Time To Get To Your Destination
As running late is one of the most common causes of road rage, the best way to avoid the inevitable is by leaving early, especially if you know you’ll be driving during peak traffic hours. When you know you have enough time to get to your destination, you’re less likely to get stressed and impatient, and less likely to rage at a fellow driver for no fault of theirs.
Accept That Traffic Lights, Rush Hour Traffic & Other Traffic Annoyances Are Inevitable
All of these are part and parcel of driving around most towns and cities. Getting annoyed at the red lights or the long line of vehicles ahead of you won’t help ease the situation. On the contrary, it might only cause your frustration to boil over increasing the risk of road rage. Many drivers find that playing their favourite music while driving can help them feel calm and reduce stress and frustration.
Don’t Drive When You’re Distressed
It’s difficult to stay focused on the road when you’re upset or angry. You’re preoccupied with your own thoughts and more likely to react aggressively to other drivers at the slightest provocation or even perceived provocation. At times like this, it’s best not to get behind the wheel. It’s safer for you and for other drivers on the road to catch a ride with a friend instead or ask someone to pick you up.
Be Patient With Other Drivers
Is the driver ahead of you driving too slowly? Does it look like they don’t know where they’re going? Don’t let it get you all worked up. Maybe the driver is lost and trying to figure out how to get to their destination. Or maybe they are having a bad day and can’t focus on their driving. Cursing other drivers who don’t seem to drive the way you think they should doesn’t help. Instead, take a deep breath, get out of their way and calmly get on your way.
Don’t Beep Your Horn Unnecessarily
Most drivers know that beeping your horn won’t really accomplish anything but they can’t help it. They beep to vent their frustration at the red light or the long line of cars moving along far too slowly. Beeping your horn in frustration won’t change anything. The only thing it will do is annoy the other drivers around you and increase everybody’s stress levels including yours. When traffic seems just too slow, you really have no option but to be patient and go with the flow.
Never Stop To Confront Another Driver
If you’re already seething and another driver crosses your path, it’s tempting to want to get out and ‘teach the other driver a lesson’. Never, ever do this. Take a really deep breath and keep driving. Don’t provoke them and definitely don’t stop to confront them. The situation could escalate and get out of hand very quickly reaching a dangerous conclusion. Stopping to confront another driver is the most dangerous thing you can do on the road.
How To Avoid Being A Victim Of Road Rage When Another Driver Acts Aggressively
You may be proactive about avoiding road rage but don’t expect that other drivers think the same way. You cannot stop another driver from driving aggressively but there are things you can do to defuse the situation.
When another driver behaves aggressively, here’s what you can do to avoid road rage:
- Ignore the driver; Don’t reciprocate or make eye contact and definitely don’t retaliate by gesturing, beeping aggressively or abusing them right back. Keep your eyes on the road and keep driving.
- Try and get as far away as possible from the aggressive driver; Change lanes if you can. If that’s not possible, slow down or take the next turn to get off the road and out from their radar.
- Don’t let the driver bully you into stopping; No matter how much they yell, abuse or shout at you to stop, just keep driving. If the driver refuses to back down and is becoming more threatening, call the police or call a family member or friend and ask them to call the police about the ongoing threat. Give them your exact location so that help can get to you quickly.
- Do not go home if there’s an aggressive, abusive driver behind you; If the driver won’t stop following you, your safest option is to head to the nearest police station. Keep your doors locked throughout.
- Apologise if you were in the wrong; Whether you braked too hard, leaned on the horn by mistake, or accidentally cut off another driver, be quick to accept your fault. A simple wave and smile of apology should calm the other driver down and prevent a potential road rage incident.
If you have been a victim of road rage you may be eligible to make a road rage claim for compensation.