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How to Manage Your Road Rage

Every day, millions of people get behind the wheel of a car. Every one of these people is fallible and can make mistakes that put others in danger or risk accident. We can get emotional in such situations, and some may feel the need to educate the offender by perhaps lifting a middle finger and launching into a tirade of shouted epithets laced with salty invective.

They just experienced road rage. And they are not alone. Over 50% of all drivers who are the recipients of aggressive behavior on the road, such as being cut off, being confronted with a vulgar hand motion, excessive horn beeping or dangerous tailgating admit to responding to these behaviors with overtly aggressive behavior themselves.

The Prevalence of Road Rage

Road rage is the modern term for a motoristís uncontrolled anger that is usually provided by another motoristís irritating act and is expressed in aggressive and violent behavior. It is a modern term that was first coined by news station KTLA in Los Angeles in 1988 after a series of incidents involving shootings had happened on several freeways across the city. It coincides with the current vehicular arms race as drivers get into larger and ever more intimidating trucks and SUVs in an attempt to create some sort of asphalt dominance over commonly shared roadways.

A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported an average of 1,200 incidents of road rage in the United States each year over the past decade. Many of these incidents involved severe injuries and even death by violence. These incidents are mostly perpetrated by young males. The same studies show that the most likely demographic to be involved in these incidents are males under the age of 19.

There is considerable stress involved in driving in crowded metropolitan regions that cause many of these aggressive younger male drivers to take out their frustrations on motorists who cut in and out of traffic, make sudden lane changes, or perhaps grab that last parking spot at the mall.

Managing Road Rage

Road rage is not something that should be taken lightly. Over 56% of fatal crashes involve some sort of aggressive driving according to the AAA. What sometimes starts out as a minor confrontation can quickly escalate into armed conflict, especially in states with lenient gun laws. A shocking 37% of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm.

There are ways that you can avoid being a victim of road rage. The very best way is to drive in a way that will not bring confrontation from already stressed drivers. These include:

  • No driving slowly in the fast lane on a highway and blocking faster moving traffic
  • Not pulling over to the side of the road to settle things in a ďman to manĒ confrontation.
  • Avoid cutting people off and apologize if you do with a hand gesture.
  • If a driver is being especially aggressive towards you and is following you, there may be no other recourse than to call the police.
  • Donít drive as if you are competing in a race. Driving on the highways is not NASCAR. You donít get a prize for beating the other drivers to your destination. Avoid bringing your competitive spirit to the roads.
  • Trying to educate other drivers is a losing proposition. Even if you do succeed in convincing one driver what a dope they are, there is another to take his place a few seconds behind him.
  • Always try not to tailgate and maintain a safe distance behind other cars. Other drivers tend to get angry when people follow too closely.
  • Put yourself in the shoes of the other driver. Maybe the person who is speeding and weaving in and out of traffic is a firefighter on their way to some emergency or a man taking his pregnant wife to the hospital. While this scenario is not usually likely, it may calm you down enough to let the incident slide by without turning into a potentially life-threatening situation of road rage.

There are many other ways you can avoid becoming one of the statistics. Road rage is not something that is going to go away. Over a seven-year period, 218 murders and 12,610 injuries have been directly caused by incidents of road rage. Everyone needs to be cognizant of the fact that the other drivers are all human and are most likely just as stressed out as you are. A little common courtesy on the roadways goes a long way towards getting you home safely.
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