Driving is breeding ground for hostility. Between hours sitting in bumper to bumper traffic and drivers who seem to disregard the rules of the road blatantly, it’s all too easy for the blood to start boiling. What’s more, is aggressive driving is increasingly getting worse.
In the last decade, fatal car crashes linked to aggressive driving increased a staggering 500% in the United States. In a 2016 survey conducted by the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, roughly 80% of participants admitted to expressing severe aggression, anger or rage on the road at least once in a year. Not surprisingly, the survey also found:
- 51% of drivers tailgate on purpose
- 47% of drivers yell at other drivers
- 45% of drivers honk in anger or annoyance
- 33% of drivers use obscene gestures
What’s causing all this rage?
Chances are you have been on the giving or receiving end of road rage. Countless reasons may cause a person to take their aggression out on the road. In our busy, fast-paced lives, many people are struggling to balance the stresses of work and life. People who drive angry or upset are more likely to speed, tailgate or get into accidents.
The best way to prevent road aggression is to stop it from happening in the first place. While you can’t control the actions of other drivers, you can control how you respond. That means giving people the benefit of the doubt if they make a mistake and driving courteously. Even if their driving puts you and your passengers in a moment of danger, letting it go is the best way to reduce your own stress and deescalate the situation.
How to respond to an aggressive driver
Even if you do everything right, there’s a good chance you will become the victim of some form of road rage or aggressive behavior in the future. To avoid escalation, it’s essential that you:
- Don’t react: It may not feel fair, but any response to an aggressive driver could intensify their anger. Focus on your driving and avoid making obscene gestures, eye contact or yelling.
- Get to safety: If your attempts to not acknowledge the driver fail and they start to follow you, keep driving at a normal speed and do not stop, lower your window or get out of the car. Drive to a busy public area or a police station if you can or call 911 if you feel unsafe.
Driving is stressful for everyone. But, by focusing on your driving and avoiding provocation, you ensure you evade potentially dangerous road rage encounters.