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Road Rage: Protecting Yourself and Avoiding Confrontation

Updated on August 30, 2011

Road Rage Incident

One hospitalized, one in jail
One hospitalized, one in jail | Source

What Can Happen?

When Things Escalate...

After racing for five miles at speeds nearing 100 mph, the two cars involved pulled over. Robert Bruno walked over to Fernando Malagon's car, shot him in the head with a .45-caliber pistol and then drove off. This was not an isolated incident.

An average of at least 1,500 men, women, and children are injured or killed each year in the United States as a result of "aggressive driving," according to the AAA. The deadly weapons used are usually firearms or the vehicles themselves.

Rage Incident - **Note: VERY Foul Language

Aggressive Driving vs. Road Rage

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines aggressive driving as: "When individuals commit a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property."

Contrast this with the more serious situation of ”Road Rage” which is a criminal act of assault, such as ramming someone's car or attacking another driver, as seen on the video. Road Rage incidents almost always begin with aggressive driving.

An AAA study in 2008 found that most people said that aggressive drivers are the most serious traffic safety problem on the road. When questioned about their own driving habits, however, many in that study admitted that they do drive aggressively themselves at times.

Pull Over and Report Aggressive Drivers
Pull Over and Report Aggressive Drivers
Worst Nightmare
Worst Nightmare

Some Things to Keep In Mind

Avoiding the tragic consequences of Road Rage, either by another driver or yourself, begins with avoiding aggressive driving and by not reacting to aggressive driving by others. Here’s a few things you can do:

  • Realistically assess your own behavior behind the wheel, noting when and where you tend to drive aggressively. This is most often on a familiar road while commuting, so plan to leave early enough to allow for traffic delays.
  • Don't make up time by speeding or changing lanes suddenly. This sparks many rage incidents.
  • Avoid distracted driving (cell phones, texting, etc.) which can cause driving errors that endanger and anger other drivers.
  • If you’re in an accident, stay in your car until you can size up the emotional state of the other driver.
  • Remind yourself often that no one, yourself included, has any unique driving skills that allow them to drive recklessly and still be safe.
  • Humanize the other driver. He could be a friend or neighbor. She may be hurrying to the hospital or rushing to someone’s deathbed. He/she is probably a good person who’s just temporarily not acting that way.
  • If you need to use your horn, do a quick "toot-toot." Don't blare and glare.
  • Don’t make eye contact with a road warrior since that makes it personal, in their view.
  • If someone is driving very aggressively, to the point of creating real danger, report them to the police as soon as you can safely do so. Do get their license number.
  • Be realistic. There are millions of drivers on the road and the odds that they will all drive the way we think they should are pretty small.

It IS Just a Matter of Time...

Here’s a few reasons why if you do drive aggressively, you will suffer the consequences:

  • Most states have programs that specifically target aggressive driving. Anyone who does it, will get ticketed or arrested -- probably sooner rather than later.
  • When someone is injured or killed in a road rage incident, the other party usually ends up in jail or prison. (Commonly believing that it wasn’t their fault).
  • Who will you be confronting? Remember, escaped convicts, insane people, psychopaths, gang members, serial murderers, etc., all drive cars. You have no way of knowing the intentions or the mental state of the driver in the other vehicle.

Many States Field Special Units to Combat Aggressive Driving.
Many States Field Special Units to Combat Aggressive Driving.

Driving Is Becoming More Stressful

As our roads become more crowded, aggressive driving will increase. Sooner or later you are going to cross paths with a (potentially dangerous) road warrior. Having a plan in place for how you react, will enable you to remain calm and to gain control over the situation.

Staying calm may ensure that you keep your family, your career, your life and your freedom. They could all disappear in a moment of poor judgment.

Self Analysis?

If you know you have an aggressive driving problem, then maybe it's time to consider some anger management counseling. At the very least, start forming safer driving habits - habits good enough to reduce the likelihood of irritating another driver (who may or may not be stable).

Aggressive Driving Poll

My aggressive driving is caused by:

See results


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