While we may be shy to admit it, but almost all drivers have slowed traffic, cut someone else off, or angered other drivers at one point or another. In fact, in a lot of tense situations on the road, a relatively simple miscalculation can trigger unduly angry or even dangerous reactions from the other drivers around you. While anger or fear may seem like the only ways to respond to drivers full of road rage, drivers can easily navigate these situations and protect themselves against the perils of road rage, which too often turns to violence.
Avoid Direct Conflict
If drivers find themselves in a conflict with another driver, they should back off and provide the other driver with some space. If the other driver starts driving recklessly, calmly drop your speed and change routes. Better yet, you should let angry drivers pass, putting distance between you and the likelihood that your own road rage will accelerate. You can even allow other cars in your lane, thereby forming a buffer in between your vehicle and the livid driver.
To avoid further conflict, drivers can also lock their doors and roll their windows up, which does not necessarily ensure safety, but it could slow or deter another driver. If a driver starts to pursue you, try to find a safe place out of the traffic, such as the fire department or police station or a busy parking lot.
Call for Help
If another driver’s road rage has accelerated to posing a danger to others, call 911. Since it may take a few minutes for any responders to get there, it is essential to call in once the danger is clear. If the road raged driver is only making angry gestures, you likely don’t need the police. If he or she is following you or threatening you directly, it’s more appropriate to disclose it to police. You’re the top authority in this instance on whether anyone poses danger the police must know about.
Once you’ve connected with a dispatcher, provide your cell number and location in case the call disconnects and try to get the car’s license plate number. Most importantly, don’t embellish the situation by exaggerating the supposed danger or downplaying any wrongdoing on your part. The consequences can range from simply making the police’s job harder to being arrested for a false police report.
Deescalate the Situation
In an effort to avoid raising adrenaline levels and elevating a stressful situation, drivers would do best to respond to road raged drivers not with more anger but with remorse. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, just mouthing “I’m sorry” or acknowledging the driver with a wave can go far in bringing the driver back down to Earth. Also, should you not even get that far, it may be best to just let the other driver “win” because ultimately the goal is to stay safe and not win the argument. If you’re just as mad as the other driver, remember to breathe deeply to calm your nerves and think of things beyond that frustrating moment, such as family and friends or something you’re looking forward to.
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