Road Rage is becoming a serious problem on the highways and byways of America. Hundreds of people are injured or killed unnecessarily, due to someone’s lack of anger management while driving. Road rage incidents have increased from 70 recorded altercations in 2006 to over 400 as of 2016, according to the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration.

More and more of these terrifying incidents include the use of firearms. In fact, within the past 3 years, the use of guns in road rage incidents has more than doubled. Needless to say, people on both sides of the issue need to take a step back and find ways to eliminate the problem.

The Terminology

Aggressive driving can lead to road rage. Aggressive driving includes things like speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating, illegal driving on sidewalks, medians or road shoulders, passing in no-passing zones, failure to yield right of way, ignoring traffic signs, etc. These practices alone can lead to injuries and death.

Road rage is when a person assaults you or your vehicle. The assault can include shouts and gestures but also includes physical contact with you or your vehicle. When you see a person displaying aggressive driving, it’s best to stay out of the way if possible, because the next level of aggression is road rage.

Avoiding Road Rage

When you see a person displaying aggressive driving, it is best to move out of the way and not to engage them in any fashion. Yes, it’s tempting to shout back at another driver who did wrong to you and is shouting at you. You may think you will get some satisfaction in returning an erratic driver’s rude gesture with one of your own, but, in fact, on today’s roads, that act could get you and your passengers seriously injured or killed. No act of aggression is worth putting your life on the line.

You can help de-escalate the situation by moving over if you are being tailgated. You can use an “I’m sorry” gesture to abate the situation or avoid eye contact altogether. Only use your horn in a true emergency. Honking at someone who is driving erratically is taking a chance on escalating a possible road rage situation.

Keep Calm When You Drive

According to a report published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), about one-third of the population admit they have been perpetrators of road rage. When you consider shouting or gesturing is a display of this problem, you realize more citizens are guilty of it than one would suspect.

There are many factors that can lead to road rage. Being hot, tired, cranky and in a rush to get to your destination are only a few of the common causes. Alcohol and substance abuse adds to the problem.

With practice, you can help keep your anger from reaching the point where it affects your driving and causes you to cause harm to others. If possible, avoid driving when you are upset. People make mistakes on the road, and you may view another person’s unintentional mistake as a provocation.

When you feel anger rising, take slow deep breaths. Open your window and let fresh air in. You can also put on calming music to help you relax while you are driving. Instead of rushing to get to your destination, leave in plenty of time to get there or, if you are going to be late, call ahead and let the people on the other end know you are going to be late, and let it go. Putting yourself and others in harm’s way is not a wise decision.

Road rage is very common during this time of year. Even though there should be a pervasive feeling of goodwill and peace, life is moving at such a hectic pace, and there is so much anxiety in the air, many people have a difficult time slowing down. Do your part to take care of yourself and be part of the solution to ending the road rage problem.

At Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A. we specialize in personal injury cases. If you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident involving aggressive driving or road rage, give us a call. Your initial consultation is complimentary. We serve residents in the North Port, Port Charlotte, and Englewood areas as well as the southwest region of Florida.