Summer Road Rage Reduction Check List
If you drive on our nation’s roadways on a regular basis, your chances of being involved in a road rage incident are very high. Road rage can be triggered through a gesture, such as being flipped off, by being cut off or through tailgating. It can lead to serious physical injury and even death. Most of the minor events go unreported.
There is something about being behind the wheel of a car that can prompt rage or aggression in even the mildest mannered people. Doctors, lawyers, executives, construction workers and even school teachers are not immune from acting out aggressively against another driver.
As a police officer who has investigated hundreds of road rage cases, it seems that most drivers see their car and the roadway surrounding it as their personal space. When that space is invaded, or violated, we become territorial. Mixing one or more aggravating factors, like sleep deprivation, a bad day at the office, a short temper or the consumption of alcohol, with someone cutting you off, not using their turn signal or tailgating and you have a toxic mix.
With the start of summer and July 4th fast approaching, we can expect to see an increase in instances of road rage. Most of us don’t consider ourselves to be the cause of road rage but drivers make mistakes all the time. Carelessness, recklessness, absentmindedness and inconsiderate driving can all provoke an extreme reaction in other drivers.
Take this short quiz to see if you may be the cause of road rage. Answer honestly!
- Do you regularly drive over the speed limit or accelerate when the traffic light turns yellow?
- Do you tailgate or flash your headlights when the driver in front of you is driving too slow?
- Do you honk your horn often?
- Do you use obscene gestures or communicate angrily at other drivers?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be the cause of road rage in other people.
If you answered no to all of them, consider these additional behaviors that can also trigger road rage:
- Not using your turn signal
- Abrupt lane changes
- Failure to dim high beams
- Distracted driving using the phone or putting on makeup
- Driving slowly in the passing lane
Here is a list of some things you can do to reduce your chances of being involved in a road rage incident by more than 50%.
- Be courteous and treat other drivers the way you would like to be treated. Use a hands-free device for your phone. Remember: texting and driving is deadly.
- Plan ahead and leave yourself extra time for traffic. Use Google Maps or Waze to check your route in anticipation of any traffic hazards or congestion. They can also afford you alternative routes if you run into trouble.
- If you happen to make a driving mistake, a great de-escalation technique is to keep your eyes on the roadway, nod your head affirming, yes, it’s my fault and give a friendly wave.
- If your find yourself of the receiving end of road rage, take a deep breath and ask yourself if it’s worth ruining your day, or worse. Don’t let the other driver’s problem become your problem, you will likely regret it!
Steve Kardian has spent more than thirty years as a career law enforcement officer. He is a certified New York State/FBI defensive tactics instructor and an expert on the criminal mind. Kardian is the author of The New Superpower for Women and founder of Defend University, where he trains thousands of people each year on safety and self-defense, as well as strategies and tactics uniquely tailored to women’s safety.
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