How Do I Stay Safe from Road Rage?
February 22, 2022
There are many things drivers have to worry about just to safely get to their destination. From hazardous road conditions to distractions everywhere, it is not easy traversing the roads these days. Aggressive drivers make it even more difficult. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) describes aggressive driving, more commonly referred to as road rage, as a driver who intentionally commits a number of traffic offenses as to endanger others.
There may be more aggressive drivers out there than you might think. According to a study in 2016 from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, almost 80 percent of drivers have themselves conveyed aggressive driving or road rage at least once in a year, which is characterized by:
- Tailgating or following dangerously.
- Disobeying traffic laws such as speeding, driving on the shoulder, etc.
- Failing to yield or obey traffic signs.
- Yelling or making obscene gestures toward other drivers.
- Blocking other vehicles from maneuvering or changing lanes.
- Cutting off another vehicle intentionally.
- Exiting the vehicle to confront another driver.
- Bumping another car intentionally.
- Honking angrily or flashing high beams at another driver.
Aggressive driving is a serious issue for which every driver needs to be aware. Another study by the NHTSA found that aggressive driving was responsible for over 56 percent of fatal car accidents between the years 2003 and 2007.
Those polled in the AAA’s study also revealed that:
- Over 50 percent of those polled admitted to tailgating on purpose.
- Approximately 47 percent of those polled admitted to yelling at others, while 45 percent of drivers admitted to honking angrily at another motorist.
- About 33 percent of drivers admitted to rudely gesturing to another driver.
- Almost one-quarter of drivers polled blocked another vehicle from changing lanes intentionally, while 12 percent admitted to cutting off another vehicle on purpose.
- Four percent of drivers got out of their vehicle to confront another.
- Three percent of drivers bumped another driver intentionally.
What Causes Road Rage?
There are countless factors that cause road rage. A recent study published by the National Library of Medicine found that all angry drivers share similar characteristics; they are angry quicker and often, and act impulsively. This means that they likely carry their stress, whether it be personal or work, to when they are behind the wheel, and their anger translates into their driving.
It is also thought that perhaps the hustle of modern-day life causes sleep deprivation, and the majority of Americans drive even though they are lacking the necessary amount of sleep. In fact, recent studies have shown that one out of three Americans do not get enough sleep at night. Just to keep up with modern life, people often forgo sleep, which causes them to be drowsy and irritable, losing focus on driving a vehicle safely. Losing one or two hours of sleep can reduce a driver’s performance to the equivalent as driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above .08, which is the legal limit.
Other factors that play into road rage or driving aggression include:
- Impatience. Many people running late to their destination will immediately become stressed or overwhelmed when there is heavy traffic, construction zones, or slower drivers.
- Anonymity. Many drivers, for whatever reason, believe they can engage other drivers in ways they likely would not do if they were face to face, including yelling, obscene gestures, and bumping.
- Normalized behavior. Unfortunately, some drivers may think that driving aggressively is the norm or have learned at an earlier age that aggressive driving is acceptable.
How Can I Avoid Road Rage?
Reducing aggressive driving takes a communal effort, as it truly affects everyone. One angry person acting out toward another person can easily lead to a confrontation, and so forth. Here are a few tips to avoid driving aggressively, and if another driver is angry with you, avoid their road rage:
- Relax. If you are angry about something, try to relax and calm yourself before getting behind the wheel. It is not worth risking an accident.
- Be patient. Many aggressive drivers are rushing, so try to give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination safely. When you are patient, you are less likely to speed or drive aggressively, and you may lower your stress level as well.
- Obey traffic laws. Always maintain a safe distance between yourself and the car in front of you, do not go over the speed limit, and do not tailgate. Tailgating does not give you enough time to react should the driver in front stop, leading to an avoidable accident.
- Rest up. Getting enough sleep is one of the key aspects of reducing stress, so getting the recommended six to eight hours of sleep before driving helps reduce aggression.
- Be nice. Be nice and courteous to other drivers. Driving defensively reduces the chances of an accident and may also improve your mood and that of others. Drive your car assuming that others have the right of way, and only proceed when allowed. Furthermore, do not assume that every driver is out for themselves, and perhaps they did not see you when they cut you off. Try not to take other drivers’ actions too seriously.
- Do not get distracted. While sitting in traffic, you may think it is a good time to grab a drink or look at your phone. However, getting distracted from the task at hand could lead to accidentally bumping or tailgating someone else, which can easily lead to a confrontation.
Protect Yourself from Aggressive Drivers
Here are a few ways to avoid road rage and maybe deescalate a situation:
- Avoid escalating any issues. If someone cuts you off, let them go ahead and maintain a safe distance from them. It is not worth getting into an accident over a minor slight. If you accidentally cut someone off, apologize with a polite wave.
- Pull over. If someone is tailgating you, do not just pull over to the shoulder. Find a safe area such as a gas station, a shopping center, or even a hospital, somewhere that is well lit and has many people. Also, hit your horn to try to get people’s attention. This will hopefully deter whoever is following you from escalating the situation.
- Do not confront. Slow down and stay away from the aggressive driver as best you can, and do not get out of your car to confront them. If you have to stop, keep your doors locked and do not make eye contact. If the other driver continues to follow or harass you, do not go home and drive to the nearest police station.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at the Nerenberg Law Associates, P.C. Help Those Injured by Aggressive Drivers
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by road rage or an aggressive driver, reach out to the Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Nerenberg Law Associates, P.C. Our skilled team has years of experience with cases such as this and will help you get the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 215-569-9100 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.