Know the Warning Signs of Road Rage

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This post is by Bernie Carr,

Last week, I wrote about a traffic accident that escalated into a shootout between two drivers.  Road rage is not usually a topic that is covered in emergency preparedness, but if you think about it, a road rage incident can easily turn into a personal disaster.  In the situation that I described, three lives were altered as a result of uncontrollable rage:  one driver was immediately arrested, the other driver was shot in the chest would also likely be booked, and the innocent bystander whose window was shattered and was grazed in the head by a bullet.  Those drivers who got into a fight over a fender bender acted stupidly and made the situation even worse for themselves and everyone around them.

Now that the holidays are in full swing, I have noticed a lot of traffic jams and aggressive driving all over town.

Why is road rage so common during the holidays?

It’s a sad fact that people are more stressed when we are all supposed to be celebrating.  There are a lot of expectations and people feel they have to comply with everyone’s ideas of how things should be.   Also, everyone overbooks their schedules, leading to rushing, lateness, and anger.  There are also a lot of people out and about:  rushing to shopping malls, grocery shopping or driving to parties.  This leads to gridlock, erratic driving and a lot of unpleasantness on the road.

The Department of Motor Vehicles defines road rage as “aggressive or violent behavior stemming from a driver’s uncontrolled anger at the actions of another motorist.”  It can happen to anyone, so the key is prevention.

How to prevent road rage within yourself

While driving in a congested city, we have all experienced anger while stuck in traffic.  We need to prevent road rage from happening to us:

  • Leave early, allow enough time for delays
  • If you are getting too hungry while sitting in traffic, pull over if you are able to and get a snack.  You’ve seen the commercials about being “hangry”  The traffic snarl may be over by the time you finish your snack.
  • Listen to calming music.
  • If you are stuck in traffic, just accept it and realize you may arrive late but that is better than getting into an accident or fight.
  • If you are about to get into a fight over a parking spot, stop immediately.  Remember that you can always find another space and just let it go.
  • Don’t act aggressively:  avoid leaning on the horn, making obscene hand gestures or rolling down the window to yell.  Ignore taunts, gestures, insults – do not sink to their level.  This just leads to escalating an already tense situation.
  • Don’t make eye contact.
  • Don’t tailgate others – give them plenty of room to maneuver.

Watch for these signs

Be alert for these signs of road rage from other drivers:

  • Erratic driving
  • Weaving in and out of traffic and not signaling
  • Flicking someone off, waving a fist, yelling
  • Tailgating
  • Excessive honking
  • Behaviors are worsened by road conditions such as construction, accidents, rush hour traffic congestion

What to do if you feel threatened

  • Let the other driver pass you – don’t try to drive next to them.
  • Stay calm
  • Pull over to the side of the road if you have to, but do not get out of your car.
  • Call 911 if the other driver is acting threateningly or violently.

In these cases, be the “bigger” person and just let it go.  You may be justified in your anger, but your safety is more important.   Ultimately, being right not worth it.

Have you been in a road rage situation?  Please share in the comments!


© Apartment Prepper 2017

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