Road rage is a major problem in traffic; always was and always will be.
In today’s world where everything is done in a hurry, with crammed roads and millions of cars on them, millions of drivers with different personalities, it’s only a matter of time till it happens.
In this article you can read how to control your own road rage (if you have this problem) or deal with someone else’s.
As a driver in a third world country, with bad roads, intersections that baffle logic and tons of drivers that are more fit for horse and carriage than a steering wheel, I’ve seen and still see my fair share of road rage.
I’ll talk from my own experience and what worked for me, hoping that at least some of these tips will help you.
WHAT IS ROAD RAGE?
If you want the proper definition of a road rage, click here for a great definition on Wikipedia.
In my own words, road rage is nothing more than lack of respect for other participants in traffic as well as a huge display of very bad manners.
An uncontrolled spill-out of aggressive behavior, either from yourself or from other drivers on the road.
Like with every aggressive behavior, it can get you in to serious trouble with serious consequences. This fact alone means that this should be addressed seriously and should be taken care of on time.
Here are some of the main reasons that cause road rage. This goes both for you causing it or someone else:
Bad temper in traffic has caused, in my opinion, as much trouble as drunk driving has. It’s a monster that sits in most of us and given the right conditions, the monster will be unleashed.
Traffic is the last place to have a bad temper. It’s a place where good judgment and good reaction is key for getting yourself and your passengers safely from point A to point B. These are also is necessary in order to avoid endangering other participants in traffic.
Letting a bad temper get the best of you clouds the judgment and blunts the reaction.
This can lead to saying or doing something that you might dearly regret or even worse, to a car accident.
Always think about that when you want to go on a road rage. Consequences can be dyer because of a bad temper.
Total neglect of other participants in traffic
You’re not alone on the road; you’ll hear many drivers say.
Once you engage traffic, you become a part of a larger community. As with every community, if you’re civilized, you have to think about other people.
Not being aware of consequences once you get behind the steering wheel is sheer recklessness.
Having a road rage or becoming part of one can cause problems and consequences in traffic which will affect other people. This is a fact.
The sad truth is that road rages often escalate on the road. It may be a quarrel in traffic or a full-blown brawl. Whatever the case may be always have in mind that your stopping a complete community of drivers because of your own or someone else’s road rage.
In that traffic jam might be an ambulance, people with small children, people in emergencies that you or someone else is preventing from getting to safety.
Always think about that, regardless of what side of the road rage you are on.
I’ve always seen traffic as a proof ground for manners. A good driver is one with good manners.
These involve things like politeness, care, awareness and other things that make traffic a better place.
Road rage, especially when you see it as a bystander, is the epitome of bad manners. Yelling, shouting, cursing or even physical attack is something that should be left in the Stone Age.
If you get caught by one, do what you have to do. But always have in mind that ,in most cases, there is a civilized way to get out of it.
If you started it, then that tells more about you and what kind of person you are.
Traffic always reminded me of a big dining table that we all use for having a meal. People can sit or have a meal in peace and quiet, use the cutlery properly and leave the table like a civilized person or they can eat with their mouth open, with elbows on the table and burp while they eat.
HOW TO HANDLE YOUR OWN ROAD RAGE?
In this part, we’ll be talking about if you have the road rage problem.
As mentioned, a road rage is, in fact, a behavioral disorder. As such, it should be treated or completely eliminated.
Driving should be a calm, smooth and focused process. Not one full of cursing, yelling, stomping or else.
These are some tips that should help:
Think of the consequences
Some consequences of a road rage will be:
Distraction while driving
Lack of proper judgment while in traffic
Endangering your life and the life of others (passengers, other participants in traffic)
Getting yourself in a dangerous situation (physical or verbal attacks)
Making your passengers watch you getting a tantrum
Damaging your health (anger and nervousness certainly isn’t good for you).
When you see these reasons and what kind of impact they may have, controlling your road rage or eliminating it totally seems pretty necessary doesn’t it?
Especially when you realize the fact that nothing good comes from it.
The truth is that you’re the commander of the situation once you’re behind the steering wheel and no commander should give in under pressure. You should always act in that manner.
If you can’t do that, at least think about the safety of others. You’re obligated to do so.
Keep a calm temper
Calm temper is key to solving the road rage problem. As mentioned, bad temper is one of the main causes of problems in traffic.
Always try to keep calm, whatever the situation may be. Even if you’re a victim of an attack, always try to resolve the situation as calmly and reasonably as possible.
Always be aware that a bad temper gets out of hand in a matter of minutes and a few wrong spoken words. It easily escalates in to a physical attack. I’ve seen this dozens of times. It happens at a moment’s notice. After that, it’s too late.
The fact is that once the situation has calmed down, you’ll probably be thanking yourself for reacting like a grown up and wise person instead of getting yourself in to a world of trouble.
Make a good time-table
Most of us are always in a hurry. Being in a hurry is stressful by its nature.
Combine this with things like traffic jams, bad driving behavior and you could have a full-blown road rage on your hands.
A good time-table combined with a calm temper is surely a winning solution.
Good time planning means eliminating hurrying. No hurry, no stress. No stress, probably no road rage.
Always try to plan ahead. Traffic and drivers are unpredictable and the least you can do is give yourself some extra time.
Indulge yourself with some favorite habits
Most of us drivers have small rituals that we like to do in the car.
This might be eating favorite food, drinking a favorite beverage, listening to favorite music or other things.
Whatever the case may be, if you have a road rage problem, try bringing some favorite snacks, soft-drinks, chewing gum or else. When someone starts to get on your nerves, try eating, drinking or perhaps pop in your favorite music compilation.
For somebody, a call to a spouse or friend will help. If you tell someone else what happened, it gets easier.
As long as it doesn’t interfere with your own or traffic safety, find what works best for you and apply it the moment you get an urge for a road rage.
Keep your road rage to yourself
If any of these tips fail, well then just try to confine the road rage problem to yourself.
Namely, do it when your alone in the car and not endangering others in traffic.
Road rages sometimes can’t be controlled. If this is the case, pull over and do what suits you. Stomp, yell kick, swear whatever does the trick. Just get it out of your system as soon as possible and in a safe manner.
I don’t recommend doing this if you have passengers as it will look like you’ve lost your mind. People will probably feel uncomfortable and be afraid of you.
Pull to the side of the road
Road rage can get the best of you. When this happens you become a dangerous participant in traffic.
If you notice that it’s getting the best of you, best pull over or search for the nearest rest area.
Some fresh air, leg stretching and walking will do miracles for stopping a road rage.
Keep your ego under control
Ego is good for some things, but for road rage it isn’t for sure.
There will always be somebody acting like a jerk in traffic and imposing themselves on you.
The natural reaction is self-defense and trying to make things right, namely from your point of view.
This is OK in other situations, but in traffic it can be trouble in the making.
If someone acts like a jerk on the road, let them be. It’s their problem and possible loss.
Be a grown up and act that way. Traffic is the last place to be a macho-man and a show off.
Here the name of the game is reason, thinking in advance and good assessment of the situation.
Otherwise, you’re ego can get you in to a heap of trouble.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU’RE A VICTIM OF ROAD RAGE?
But what should you do if you’re on the other side of a road rage?
These situations are tricky and, in most cases, very dangerous. Here also a calm temper and reasonable thinking are the main tools for getting yourself out of trouble. Besides that try these tips:
Keep your distance from the road rage
Rule number one of engaging a road rage: get away from it as far as possible.
Road rages are situations with unpredictable outcomes. As such, the best way to save yourself and others is to get away from it.
Much like a street fight. If you don’t have to do it and unless your back is up the wall, don’t.
This goes both for people causing problems while driving (cutting you off, intentionally sudden braking or else) and in standstill (people getting out of the car and physically or verbally attacking you).
If you see someone on a rage while driving, try to gain some distance. Change lanes, slow down even make an unwanted turn on an intersection, whatever will help you get away from that driver. A few minutes of lost time is well worth the effort.
Defensive driving comes in handy here. If you want to learn something about defensive driving, click here for a separate article on that topic
If the other driver sees fit to do his/her own justice by attacking you, find a way to get out of there unless an accident has happened and the law abides you to stay there. As mentioned, these situations can escalate in a matter of minutes in the wrong direction and after that it’s too late.
Have a dash cam or other kind of camera at hand
Thank God for technology. Nowhere is this seen best then with road rages.
Pictures are better than a thousand words and if push comes to shove, you have the whole unfortunate event on camera.
Dash cams are best for road rages that happen while driving. If the situation appears in standstill, use you’re Smartphone camera and record the event as much as possible.
These recorded videos have helped solve a lot of traffic and road rage problems. If in no other way, then it will perhaps make the problematic driver think twice about his/her future actions on you point the camera at them.
Just make sure that you always have an operational camera before starting driving and that the battery on the Smartphone is fully charged.
Try to calm down the situation
Making a proper assessment of the situation at hand is of the essence.
If you fall victim to a road rage and you can’t get out of it (if it comes to verbal or physical contact) try to “read” the other person.
Maybe they’ve had a bad day, may be a life shattering event or maybe they’re just plain afraid. Maybe they want to get out of the mess they made just as bad as you do.
Some tell-tale signs that you can try this tip will be: the man/woman becomes pale, they will be trembling, they will avoid any kind of physical contact and keep a safe distance from you.
In that case, a civilized talk, a calm tone of voice and lack of fear from your side will do wonders.
Put your ego aside and try this, if the situation allows it. If everything goes OK, you’ll witness the power of being able to calm down a risky situation.
I’ve had this kind of encounter and instead of fists flying and insulting each other; we ended up getting to know each other and having some coffee.
Have an emergency number at hand
It’s common for drivers to have emergency numbers at hand (police, fire department, hospital etc).
Very good and useful habit that goes double for road rage.
If the situation escalates to a physical attack from the other driver, best keep a distance and call the law enforcement as soon as possible.
Self defense is OK, but the fact is, if you don’t have proper evidence, you’ll be as guilty as the one who started it. It’s his/her word against yours.
You pay tax for people to do their jobs and it’s not yours or anyone else’s to deliver justice.
Also, you’ll avoid getting hurt or hurting someone else which can have far-reaching consequences.
Lock yourself in the car
All of today’s cars have central locking buttons. Once you press it, the car is locked down and stops anybody from getting inside.
Also a very good and effective helper to solve the problem of other people’s road rage.
I know this may seem cowardly, especially to male drivers, but again the matter of fact is that avoiding getting in to trouble is the best solution.
If you see the other driver coming towards you with a serious attacking stance, feel free to get in the car and lock it down. Do this especially if you have passengers in the car (spouse, children or else).
All of you will be out of harm’s way and the angry driver will probably cool down or go away.
If he/she persists, next in line is the camera and calling the law enforcement.
This way, you’ll solve the road rage problem undamaged and be able to file a law suit and punish the other driver the proper, legal way.
Here is most important not to let your ego get in the way.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING SITUATIONS THAT CAUSE A ROAD RAGE
For the end, I’ve listed some common traffic and driving situations that cause road rage:
Cutting in to a cue
There will always be wise guys that think that waiting is for suckers.
Be it on a gas station, traffic light, intersection or whatever, some drivers simply have the urge to show everybody else that they are the champions of driving.
More polite drivers ask you to let them pass which is perhaps OK. You never know why he/she is in a hurry.
The other ones just outright cut you off.
In these situations, if you’re not in a hurry and they politely ask, I would recommend to let them go.
If they cut you off and endanger you, best right down the license plate and notify the local law enforcement.
Not giving a turning signal
Always asked myself why some drivers are so reluctant to give a turning signal. I would understand this if instead of just pushing the steering stock switch, they had to light a fire on the side of the car.
Nevertheless, some drivers see a turning light as a nuisance. This is both irresponsible and dangerous.
In my country, I see this all the time. I just keep my guard up and try to foresee the traffic situation. If someone in front of me starts to slow down for no reason, I assume that they are going to take a turn.
In order to avoid a road rage on this part, I would best recommend keeping your distance and a keen eye. Best protection against reckless people on the road.
If there is one reason that can cause a serious road rage, then it’s improper overtaking.
Overtaking, by its nature is dangerous, especially on two lane roads.
It’s nothing short of a skill and demands very good judgment and decision calling.
Bad and risky overtaking can cause serious accidents with serious consequences.
If you get in a situation like this one, best try to keep your distance and avoid trouble. If you can, even make some lane space for the reckless driver.
Road rage will only cause additional distraction and problems.
Thoughtless use of car brakes
Some drivers perhaps still don’t get the fact that when they press the brakes, the brake lights light up.
They also don’t realize that frequent lighting up of the brake lights is a huge distraction for the driver behind them. Especially if the traffic situation doesn’t demand it.
If I may say, a part of driving culture is respecting the driver behind you. Playing around with the brake pedal and constantly flashing the driver behind you is both rude and dangerous.
Having this in mind, a road rage is very possible because of this.
Left over high beam lights
As with the turning signal, it stays an unexplained phenomenon why people can’t turn of the high beam lights.
This doesn’t only go for inexperienced drivers but also for drivers with decades of experience.
I can understand if you forget sometimes (who of us hasn’t at least once), but if it becomes a regular part of driving, that driver is in for a road rage for sure.
This goes double if the high beams come from the vehicle behind you causing distraction and flashing.
Parking is technically not a road rage since the car is not on the road.
Nevertheless, one of the most common causes of fights and rages is improper parking.
Let’s face it, parking can be hell, especially in crammed cities, shopping malls or else.
Drivers try to solve these problems by parking in other, more distant spots and then walking or, if they have to leave the car in a bad spot, leave a phone number so the other driver can contact him/her.
Other drivers that don’t care that much, simply leave the car often blocking other people.
Never understood how drivers can do that and not have in mind that they can block someone who can be in an emergency or have kids with them.
Bad manners and total disregard is the main reason for this kind of behavior in my opinion.
Talking on the phone while driving
From the dawn of cell phones people liked to talk on the phone while driving. So much so that eventually a law had to me made to forbid it.
Amongst one of the plagues of talking on the phone and driving is slow and reckless driving. Not once have I seen drivers driving slowly for no apparent reason, missing lanes or taking dangerous turns. Once you pass them , you see the phone stuck to their ear.
This reason alone (a person not giving a damn about others in traffic) is good enough to start a road rage.
Throwing trash out of the car
This is one more major reason for a road rage.
Luckily, in most civilized countries this is highly punishable. Some people seem like they don’t have the time to stop at a rest area and use the garbage can.
One more situation where a dash cam, writing down the license plate and contacting the law is a very good option.