With summer in full swing, more people are crowding the roadways to travel to exotic places, or enjoy a night out on the town. Unfortunately, it’s also a time for emotions running high and increased road rage conditions. Road rage is a term used to describe intentionally dangerous and/or violent behavior involving a vehicle. Not only is road rage a threat to property damage, but it can also involve physical harm. Common acts include deliberately using the vehicle as a weapon to hit another automobile or person, using objects to hit the other person or vehicle, even as far as firing a weapon from it, and possibly getting out of one’s car and hurling insults, banging windows, or kicking the other’s car.
The causes of road rage can be broken down through three different categories. The main factors are environmental conditions. This includes weather, time constraints, noise levels, and also increasing congestion and anger over another’s driving habits. Intrusive responses, another cause, are the actions taken to get revenge on another driver. Territorial defensiveness, the last factor, is defending one’s personal space as a response to the careless driving of the offender.
According to the consumer coalition, sixty-four percent of 1000 people polled agree that drivers drive less courteously and safely. With crowded highways that create tailgating and near collisions, and today’s society, where everyone is in a rush and has great urgency to get to their destinations as soon as possible, bad manners and discourtesy on the road is inevitable. There are more drivers than driving space, and pressure and stress add to the problems. Another issue is ignorance. Many drivers have forgotten or never learned the rules of the road, making for potentially dangerous choices in the absence of knowledge. Driving instructors say that it is difficult to teach proper driving techniques when so few practice them. It is not ok to tailgate or cut someone else off because others do it.
What are some of the solutions to decrease road rage? Experts say the answers lie in increased driver’s education, along with warnings or tickets from law enforcement. Refresher courses, similar to those offered to seniors in some states, would also help.
When dealing with aggressive drivers, it is important to avoid the situation before it begins. Avoid provoking other motorists by being cautious and courteous while driving. Do not tailgate, and if being tailgated, move to the next lane so the aggressor can pass. Avoid making inappropriate hand or facial gestures and use the horn sparingly. Do not make eye contact, and steer clear; leave plenty of distance between you and the aggressive driver. If the situation escalates, and the aggressor follows you, do not go home; head to the nearest police department. You should never underestimate the other drivers’ mental state. Though you cannot control others’ behavior, you can control the way they affect you.
Retaliation is never the answer. When a discourteous driving incident happens, it is important not to take it personally. Before reacting, take a few deep breathes and ask yourself, ‘is getting back at that jerk worth risking my own life?’ Perhaps the other driver didn’t intend to offend and just made an honest mistake. Slow down and relax. A calm mind will help you make better decisions. Practice patience and know before you go. Leave enough time to get to your desired destination. Finding out about road construction, delays, and weather conditions will make you better prepared. It is difficult to be a polite driver when so many are not, and it’s hard to let offenses go. But ‘walking’ away with wounded pride still means you’re ‘walking’ away, safely.