Road violence….a phenomenon which is sadly present in everyday driving and traffic.
Rude behavior, reckless driving, neglect, lack of attention, and focus are just some reasons that cause this problem.
Once faced with it, solving a situation involving road violence can be tricky, complicated, or downright dangerous.
But as you’ll see in this article, there are some methods and practices that can be used to get out of this situation successfully.
I must say (and please take this seriously) that I am, by no means certified to give a definition and final solution to this problem.
I will rather talk from my own experience as a driver who’s made hundreds of thousands of kilometers in a country which perhaps has some of the worse roads, traffic solutions, and driving behavior in the world.
Thinks of this as some experienced advice rather than an ultimate solution.
HOW TO DEAL WITH ROAD VIOLENCE?
KEEP A SAFE DISTANCE
You wouldn’t believe the power of distance. Especially in traffic and dealing with road violence.
It’s so powerful that if properly used it will not only get you out of trouble but also prevent you from getting into a tight spot in the first place.
For instance: if you encounter a reckless driver in traffic (risky overtaking, sudden frequent brakings, someone suddenly frequently cutting you off from another lane or else) keeping a proper distance will keep you safe.
The power of distance can even be used if you get in a really violent situation beyond traffic, like a parking lot quarrel for instance. Keeping distance will save you from perhaps getting injured or injuring someone in an affect.
Always remember that distance is your guardian angel on the road and even off of it. All you have to do is summon it on time.
ALWAYS MAINTAIN A COLD TEMPER
Easier said than done, in most cases.
Flashing middle fingers, stealing a parking place right in front of you, risky overtaking are just some situations where a cold temper is put to the trial.
Even worse, there might be a situation where another driver has endangered the well-being of both you as a driver and perhaps your passengers. In this case, a cold temper, with most drivers, is a thing of the past.
When this happens a sudden flood of anger and rage usually appears which inevitably leads to big problems. Problems for which you may be sorry later and this leads to the main point.
Keeping a cold temper, just like, distance is a powerful tool that will save from you a lot of trouble and future regret. Besides this, a bad temper causes stress and this is bad for your health.
A cold temper is a key to proper reasoning which leads us to the next crucial factor of how to avoid road violence.
Reasoning, combined with a cold temper will make you a probable winner of a violent situation.
No more is this important than in traffic.
Most violent traffic situations start and finish in a matter of minutes. They rarely last long. Having this in mind, weighing out the pros and cons of a violent situation in a matter of seconds is priceless.
The situation you found yourself opposed to everybody’s safety (regardless of who started it), possible material damage, legal consequences, or else should be just some of the factors you should reason with.
Good reasoning then leads to quality decision making.
MAKE GOOD AND QUALITY DECISIONS
Once you’ve reasoned out the pros and cons it’s up to you to make a decision.
This may sometimes be hard as a good and wise decision involving road violence has to be made in a matter of minutes even seconds for a good outcome.
When confronted with this, the main rule is to have safety and the well being of everybody in mind.
For instance, even if your endangered and you have the possibility to get away, staying there and deepening the conflict may cause even more harm.
Another good example of poor decision-making is not letting a reckless driver get back into the his-her lane when a risky overtaking goes sour. The reckless driver is of course in a very dangerous situation but so are all the other participants, including the decision-making driver.
Your decisions, in my opinion, and if humanly possible, should be always and I mean always focused on safety and the well being.
KEEP A LOW EGO
A big ego is very dangerous anywhere, especially in traffic.
Big ego’s cloud good reasoning and decision making.
Every driver has the urge to somehow balance the situation, especially the damaged side.
If the other driver showed the finger stole a parking place or perhaps damaged the car some kind of retaliation and settling the score would be in order.
It simply seems the right thing to do and the natural way justice is done.
But it simply doesn’t work that way. In real life, it usually leads to a further escalation of violence and trouble unless you become the dominant power in the conflict and finish it off.
If you prefer this kind of solution, be prepared for the consequences which are in a lot of cases unpredictable. You never know who is capable of what under certain circumstances.
Reason over ego; and you will successfully prevail in almost any situation. Better a sore ego than a sore body.
TRY TO DEFUSE THE SITUATION
Sometimes you simply won’t be able to avoid road violence for one reason or another.
The other driver will simply lead you to a situation where avoiding conflict is impossible.
However, there is one more last line of defense, the last resort of peacefully solving the problem.
That is to give one more try and defuse the situation.
You wouldn’t believe the number of people, especially ones with a bad temper who regret they started it all once they see you getting out of the car with a defensive stance.
They then get scared and frightened and fear, as already mentioned leads to a very unpredictable outcome.
By defusing I mean mainly talking, preferably with a sharp and precise tone. Take your time if you see that the conversation will lead to a peaceful outcome.
The next step is a higher voice tone or even a bit of good old yelling. An imposing stance will also help in leading the other side to think twice about the next step.
May sound a bit silly but all of this is way better than resorting to the brute force which only leads to further escalation of violence and who knows what more.
You never know why someone did a certain thing in a certain way.
This goes for road violence also. I do not mean to justify road violence by any means, but I’ve seen situations where a certain level of understanding was in order.
Maybe I’m a bit boring but let’s take the situation of a risky overtaking. You never know what’s happening in that car. Is someone driving a person in need of immediate help, is someone trying to get away from something, is everything Ok with the car (maybe the brakes don’t work for instance).
Then there’s the situation of violent behavior. Maybe the violent person has domestic problems, problems at work, maybe they just got fired, maybe they’re ill, etc.
Again this is not justifying. A level of civilized behavior must always be maintained and no one should pay the price for someone else’s problems.
What I’m saying is that in some distant way you may get a certain advantage in solving the violent situation successfully.
Although this demands some serious skills, reasoning, and a sharp eye, it can pay off well.
If you conclude that it’s worth it, some understanding and conversation of the other participant just may save the day.
It may even lead to future acquaintances or even friendships.
Road violence is a matter of fact in everyday traffic. Be aware of this when you come across it and you surely will.
Once you do, never let your temper and ego get the best of you. As mentioned this clouds good reasoning and decision making.
Never resort to force unless it’s the very last option and you’re safety or the safety of your passengers is in question.
Using force is a one-way lane, with unpredictable consequences and may cause regrets that last for a lifetime.
If it comes to that, lock yourself inside the car and call law enforcement. They are both qualified and paid to solve these kinds of problems. Don’t in any case, let movie scenes get the best of you and try to seek revenge or justice on your own.
In real life, it simply doesn’t go that way (at least from what I’ve seen).
Your pride may be hurt, this is a fact. But at the end of the day safety, health and the least possible level of damage is the winning option, trust me.
Otherwise, a conflict that could’ve been ended in minutes and forgotten in a matter of months may end up in a lifetime of regret.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com