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Dealing with road rage

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Road rage is a serious problem that unfortunately continues to grow on the nation's highways. According to a 2016 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, as many as 80 percent of U.S. drivers engaged in aggressive driving because they were angry or upset. Letting emotions take over is a recipe for disaster when you are traveling on roads that already contain hazards such as big rigs, heavy traffic, bad weather and more.

How road rage endangers other drivers

Road rage happens when a motorist gets so caught up in anger that he or she forgets all the rules and common sense that make driving safe. One common behavior is tailgating a vehicle that the tailgater thinks cut in front of him or her. Other forms of aggressive driving include weaving in and out of traffic to pass other cars, crowding another vehicle from the side and purposely cutting off vehicles.

How to stay calm on the road

Few drivers deliberately set out to engage in unsafe driving and threaten other motorists. If you think you may be prone to losing control of your emotions, strategizing in advance can help you keep your cool. If you see another driver behaving in a way you do not like, stay away from that driver, whether your annoyance is fully justified or not. Tailgating or cutting off that car will not fix the driver's wrong behavior. Avoid driving if you are already upset about something else. If you are speaking to another person as you drive, steer clear of controversial topics.

What to do if you are the target of road rage

Some incidents of road rage can escalate terribly if the driver who is initially the target decides to retaliate aggressively. The best thing you can do if you notice that another motorist is targeting you is to continue driving safely and distance yourself from that car. Retaliating in kind is more than likely going to lead to an escalation of the conflict.

Avoid gesturing at the driver or calling out remarks. A driver who is already in the grip of road rage is likely going to have an irrational response; if he or she has a gun, the consequences may be tragic. If you notice that a driver is following you persistently, take precautions to stay safe. Get off at the nearest exit and head to a police station or a busy public lot. Do not lead this driver to your home, school or workplace.

Road rage leads to a variety of unsafe driving practices that are likely going to cause accidents. If you were in a car crash caused by an aggressive driver, speak with an attorney regarding your legal options, including the possibility of obtaining compensation.

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