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Stay Safe on the Road: Avoiding Personal Injury Caused by Road Rage

In the past fews months, far fewer cars have traveled Alabama roads and highways—thanks to the coronavirus, many people being temporarily sheltered at home, and everyone trying to follow Governor Kay Ivey’s Safer at Home order. Less traffic on the roads means less driver frustration and anger on the highways. Yet, we still face road rage incidents, some of which are deadly. As people return back to work, these events are likely to increase. 

So, why do some people get angry and act on their emotions while behind the wheel? And how can you avoid road rage incidents?

What Causes Road Rage?

Most of us have busy lives. Life is hectic and unpredictable! Maybe you’re running late. Maybe you’re lost. Maybe personal matters in your own life have you frustrated. Too often, people allow their emotions to affect their driving––and how they respond to incidents on the road. 

When driving, it’s best to give other drivers the benefit of the doubt. Most people don’t intentionally drive down the road planning to hurt someone in a road incident. Instead, these drivers may just be stressed, upset, or frustrated. 

Certain simple acts by others can cause road rage in an already stressed or upset driver. These include: 

  • Loud music
  • Distracted driving
  • Construction delays or re-routes
  • Slow drivers
  • Erratic/aggressive driving
  • Wreck delays
  • Horns and lights from other drivers
  • Rude gestures from other drivers

This list isn’t exhaustive. You can probably think of more examples. We’re all human, and we all lose our cool every now and then. However, this should not translate to how we drive. We should never let our emotions take over when we’re behind the wheel of a vehicle that is capable of injuring, or even killing, another human being.

The Many Faces of Road Rage

It’s pretty easy to spot an aggressive driver, but road rage comes in many forms. It isn’t just a driver who flips other people off on the highway. Other types of road rage are entirely situational, and are based on certain incidents that cause a calm driver to lose their temper. Look out for these many faces of road rage.

Passive-Aggressive Drivers

To these drivers, it’s all about control. They’re the ones who you accidentally cut off, and so they immediately get in front of you and purposely drive slow to try to irritate you. Or they tailgate you in the slow lane.

Entitled Drivers

Many people in our world live off of entitlement. They want everyone to know the world revolves around them––or at least they think it does. Entitled drivers do not have remorse for their rude actions. They believe their trip takes precedence over other drivers’, and they’ll even go as far as to cut off emergency vehicles on the highway.

Competitive Drivers

To these drivers, every highway, roadway, or interstate is the Talladega Superspeedway. These drivers will routinely drive over the speed limit, and will stop at nothing to be first, even if it’s to a red light.

Fighting Drivers

We often think that violence on the interstate will never happen to us, but many of today’s headlines about road rage will make us think twice about our safety on the road. Drivers who fight other drivers because of road rage should be taken seriously. Many headlines show drivers who have gotten into physical altercations during traffic stops, or even those who pulled weapons on other drivers.

When in doubt, always seek to be a quiet, peaceful driver. You never know what another driver’s motives are. 

How to Avoid a Road Rage Incident

Before we address how to avoid road rage, we think it’s wise to stress how important it is that you as a driver keep a level head. Your road rage can spur on road rage in others, and vice versa. Let’s look at some ways to avoid road rage.

  1. Plan Ahead — Always plan ahead. If you leave with little to no time for traffic interruptions, your failure to plan could cause frustration or anger. 
  2. Be Polite — Was it necessary to honk your horn? Oftentimes, drivers honk at other drivers without any real reason. When in doubt, don’t honk unless you’re actively preventing a collision. 
  3. Stay Calm — When you are calm, little things are less likely to get under your skin. This can help you stay level headed when someone irritates you on the road.
  4. Let It Go — This one’s important. Instead of thinking of other drivers as just cars, think of them as people, just like you, who are only trying to get somewhere. Everyone’s destination is important, and keeping this in mind can help you to stave off a sense of entitlement. 
  5. Don’t Connect / Engage — When experiencing an angry or aggressive driver, allow them space. Don’t make eye contact if possible. De-escalate the situation as best you can.
  6. Don’t Take It Personally — Other drivers aren’t usually out to ruin your day. Don’t take driver errors so personally.
  7. Don’t Return Home — This applies in those situations where an angry or aggressive driver follows you. If a driver happens to follow you, do not drive home. Instead, drive to your local police station.

In a frantic predicament, it’s easy to become frustrated. When you plan your drive in advance, and leave with plenty of time, you’re less likely to get frustrated and take it out on others. Though we can’t speak for other drivers, you have the ability to control your actions on the road. Be kind, and always give other drives the benefit of the doubt.

Injured in a car accident due to no fault of your own? Contact Wettermark Keith for more information.

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