Road Rage: Staying Out Of It

road rage

In the last issue of the Survival Life Newsletter, I told you about the most harrowing story of road rage that I have personally experienced.

A man darted out in front of my car and what started as a simple honk, escalated into him trying to remove me from my vehicle by force. I got away from that incident without a scratch.

I did a few things right when dealing with the enraged idiot, but I also did a few things wrong. Below are a few tips that may work well for you if you are ever caught up in a situation like the one I was in:

A few Tips For Road Rage Staying Out Of It

Don't engage

If you find yourself in a heated situation with another driver, back off and give them some space. This is hard to do,  as our competitive nature will not want us to let them “win”, but allowing the spat to end there could diffuse any further problems.

If the other driver begins to drive recklessly, slow down and change your route. The last thing you want is to be in a traffic accident with this person where you are forced to leave the safety of your vehicle.

In my situation, I should have never honked at the gentleman, and my tight-lipped smile as he cursed me only increased his anger towards me.

Never leave your car

Roll up your windows and lock your doors. This will put good reinforced steel and fairly thick glass between you. This alone may not ensure your safety, but it will act as a good deterrent.

If the other driver begins to follow you, do not drive to your home or place of work. If you know the location of the local police or fire station, this is your best option.

If you do not know where either of these are, either drive to a busy public location or simply keep driving. The attacker's rage may subside enough for them to tire of following you.

Never, under any circumstance, drive to a parking structure or anywhere enclosed.  This will put you at a major disadvantage and make it that much easier for the attacker to cause damage to you.

Immediately dial 911 to report the road rage incident

Remember when speaking to police dispatch, tell them all you can about the vehicle and the driver. Also request to stay on the phone until the officers arrive, especially if you fear that the other driver may attempt something drastic.

I have a few issues with this tip, simply because in my situation, the police refused to help stating that I needed to follow the other driver and stay on the phone with them until they were able to get him.

My priority was getting my wife to safety first, I felt that following the other driver was their job, especially since I provided them with a full description.

Also be aware that calling the police may further enrage some drivers and cause them to take more drastic measures because they believe that “they are going to jail anyway”.  If you truly fear for your life, make sure that you are prepared to do whatever it takes to remove yourself from the situation.

When you do call the police, DO NOT embellish the circumstances, this could cause you to get arrested for filing a false police report. After the situation has ended and you've calmed down, reexamine the events that took place.  Use it as a learning experience and try to figure out what you can do differently next time

Do you ever find yourself being the aggressor in a driving situation?  You can admit it, I know I have. I wanted to include a few tips below to help you keep calm when driving and avoid becoming the cause of a road rage incident.

Plan for the Unexpected

You are more likely to become stressed when running late.

Allow plenty of time to arrive at your destination without rushing or taking risks. Allot for delays, and map out your route in advance to avoid construction zones when possible.

Drive Rested and Relaxed

Driving while tired, irritable, or short-tempered makes you much less tolerant of other drivers and makes you much more quick to lash out.

Get plenty of rest and stay calm when behind the wheel. Play soothing music; listen to a comedy show or anything else that allows you to take your mind off traffic while still keeping your eyes on the road.

Take deep breaths to keep you centered and in a good mood.

Share the Road, you don’t own it

Every other person on the road has the same goal as you; to arrive at their destination safely and in a timely manner.

Observe posted speed limits, avoid distractions, and drive with courtesy and consideration to the welfare and safety of all motorists.

Leave the Left Lane

Drivers who refuse to move out of the left lane to allow fast-moving motorists to pass may be putting themselves at risk. Drivers piling up behind you could become angry and begin tailgating or driving close to your rear.

Tip: Move out of the left lane and into the slower-moving traffic, even if you're doing the posted speed limit and others are breaking the law.

Avoid Eye Contact

Resist stares, glares, and dirty looks. The other driver may take any of these as an insult or challenge and respond with more aggression and perilous driving.

Tip: Look straight ahead and focus on your own driving. Think about how you might deal with erratic behavior from the other driver, like physically distancing your vehicle.

Leave The Gestures And Foul Words At Home

Under no circumstance should you make gestures or yell at another motorist, such as giving them the finger, pointing, or any other sort of hand signals.

Keep your hands on the wheel and the words to yourself..

Do you have any tips or tricks to help others with road rage or aggressive driving issues?  Please feel free to leave a comment below.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 10, 2012, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

16 Responses to :
Road Rage: Staying Out Of It

  1. Frank Gomez says:

    Someone should have edited the text in that article to be used in the US. You should leave the RIGHT lane not the LEFT lane, we are in the US and we drive on the right hand side of the road.

    1. Joe says:

      Hey frank, if you are driving in the left hand lane you are in the fast lane, and need to pull into the right hand lane to allow faster moving traffic to pass. I’m not sure where you are confused. In Texas the left lane is now the passing lane and technically you should always be in the right lane unless you are passing another driver.

      1. WideRanger says:

        Cardinal rule number 1: Never think you know what the other driver is going to do. Anticipate that he will do something that you are not expecting and try to prepare for the unexpected, even if road rage is not involved.

    2. Darrell says:

      Joe is correct. In AZ (and I believe CA), the left lane is the fast lane and is used to pass or as the fastest lane. If you are in the left lane and someone wants to go faster than you (regardless of the posted speed limit), its best to move to the right and let him get past you – you are no longer the fastest vehicle and you shouldn’t hold up traffic behind you.

    3. kunquoda says:

      You are mistaken sir.. When driving in the US. you leave the left lane so others can pass you. It is sometimes called the passing lane for that reason..You do not leave the right lane unless you want to pass the car in front of you..but if you are driving in the left lane ( fast lane ) and a car approaches you from behind , you need to leave the left lane and merge to the right lane. You never pass anyone on the right side.

  2. Rex says:

    I am a rather aggressive driver and have been on both sides of the situation you describe. Since reading your article, I have been consciously making an effort to be less aggressive. I have even been letting my wife drive and just relaxing and enjoying the trip. Thanks for some good advice.

  3. Sally says:

    Our pastor gave a wonderful, convicting sermon one Sunday about cutting people off, speeding by, driving aggressively all with that “Jesus” emblem/ or bumper sticker on the back of your car– the last thing the person sees as they are cursing you out…
    So I thought about this and reported back to my pastor the next Sunday:
    “I really contemplated what you said last Sunday and I agree that having that emblem/ bumper sticker about Jesus being the last thing the other driver sees as I blow their doors is riduculous”
    The pastor said “I am so glad you see that now”
    I said “yep, I removed the sticker as soon as I got home.”

  4. Darrell says:

    I’ll never forget an incident in the early ’80s before the term ‘road rage’ was even coined. I pulled up to a red light and was the first in line waiting for a green light. A car pulled up behind me and I checked the rear view mirror. The driver was very animated, waving his arms and red in the face, his anger evidently aimed at me for a reason I could not even imagine. I got concerned, especially when it looked like he was reaching for something (a gun??). Inasmuch as I had my wife and two small kids in the car with me, I wanted to get outta there in a hurry – like right now. I looked and saw there was no cross traffic, so I turned (illegally) on the red light and high-tailed it away from this guy as fast as I could – not caring if (and actually kind of hoping) that a cop would come along (didn’t happen). I would not hesitate to do the same today.

  5. Michael Allen says:

    You do give good advice but i`m really tired of being told to be a sheep, curl up in a corner and hide, and let agressive people walk all over us.

  6. kunquoda says:

    I am pretty good about not getting upset while driving, but I have noticed that when I am driving alone I have a lot of time to think about things and I have thought about things and got angry over something that has since been resolved. Am I the only one that this happens to or are there others out there who find themselves doing the same thing ?..just wondering

  7. LB says:

    In the “Amidah” liturgy…a prayer recited on Saturdays at many Jewish and Messianic Jewish worship services, there is a line…”may my soul be silent to those who insult me”, that I have invoked numerous times in this situation. It always helps me focus on what MY behavior needs to be – no matter what theirs is. It goes on to say “and may my soul be humble before all”.

  8. Irish-7 says:

    My family experienced a “road rage” situation a few months ago. The car ahead of me stopped in the middle of the road. I did not beep or yell. When he resumed driving, he swerved to the right (off the road), then clear across the right lane into the side facing the opposite direction. I backed off, thinking he was drunk. He then sped up, pulled over, exited the vehicle and rushed out into the road in front of me. I almost ran him over. I did take evasive action (steering into the opposite lane briefly), then took off. I also removed the .357 Magnum from my center console. Luck for him, he did not follow. Looking back on the event, I almost wish that I would have hit him. I had multiple witnesses who would verify that he ran out in front of me. He is probably going to kill some innocent bystander. I hate people like that!

  9. Maxilyn says:

    I believe there is one exception to the no-gestures rule. A hand lifted palm up with a shrug of the shoulders signals “I’m sorry.” Whether you’re sorry or not, whether you’re at fault or not, the idea is to defuse the situation. But it’s also a good idea to know where the police (even university police) and fire stations are along your normal routes.

  10. Daryl says:

    Fascinating psychology, road rage. People who, under different circumstances would be delightful folks to meet, can, and do, become absolute tyrants when entering their car. And do not be surprised that it’s a woman who challenges you. Today, women are as dangerous as men.
    Have you thought of how you would handle a confrontation with a woman? Women seem to have adopted the bad habit of always being late and consequently, will tend to tailgate. If possible, move over and let them pass. Also, leave sufficient room between the car ahead to take evasive action should the event escalate. Do not be ceceived into believing that a woman will not physically attack you. It did happen to me, and I was not expecting it, and wasn’t prepared to deal with that scenario.

  11. MZ says:

    I used to have a real problem with getting angry while I drove, waving my arms at people, and yelling at other drivers. I learnt the hard way that, even if you’re right, you really should watch your behavior toward other drivers. I had someone run a stop sign and nearly hit me once, and I yelled out a slew of insults. I parked my car and went in the store. When I came out, the driver that I yelled at left a very ugly word keyed into the driver’s side door of my car. That certainly taught me my lesson about road rage.

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