7 Tips to Help You Avoid Becoming the Victim of Road Rage

by Cynthia G.

Chances are that if you drive anywhere, you have experienced some sort of road rage whether it was someone who flipped you the finger or a driver who intentionally attempted to run you off the road because of some real or imagined offense you committed. Even people who are normally polite and conscientious can give in to frustrations over traffic and become offensive, aggressive drivers when they enjoy the anonymity of becoming just another highway driver behind the wheel of a vehicle with tinted windows.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when faced with a situation involving a driver who has crossed the line between frustration and rage, and has become a menace to others around him.

-Steer clear of these drivers. Slow down to let them get away from you, turn onto another road, or even pull off the road in a safe place if necessary. Try to do so in a place where there are other people around. Potential witnesses may make an aggressor think twice before doing something stupid.

-Do not engage with the offensive driver. Just like any other bullying situation, these people just want the confrontation and may just give up leave if you do not give them one. Simply protect yourself and others in your vehicle by refusing to become angry.

-Try to keep the encounter as impersonal as possible. You do not have to act like a submissive dog, but just show nothing more than apathy. Do not make eye contact, and even turn your head away so long as you can do so safely. Act like you did not even notice the other driver's terrible behavior.

-Try to get help by using a cell phone. Call 911. Do not wait until you are absolutely sure of danger, because then it is usually too late; call when you suspect it. Make it clear that you are on your cell phone. Sure, it is illegal to be on a cell phone when driving in many jurisdictions, but in order to get a ticket for it, you need to have gotten the attention of a police officer, which is really the point, isn't it?

-Make it clear that you are not alone in your car. Bullies like an easy target and multiple people are not that. If you are alone, act like you are not. Talk over your shoulder to that invisible person in the back seat. With tinted windows and large vehicles, it is very easy to fake having a passenger these days. Just ask some of those HOV lane users.

-Pull out a camera - obviously only if you can safely do so, like if you get stuck at a red light or on the shoulder of the road with an aggressor. The idea that there may be photographic evidence of their rage may be enough to calm the other driver down, or make them flee you. (A cell phone does not carry the same implication.) If you do get a picture, it is worth its weight in gold as evidence. (We spend a lot of effort on this website to show our readers just how important it is to always carry a camera with them while driving.)

-Most importantly, never get out of your car. Even if the other person is beating or kicking your vehicle, you are safer inside than out. This can also a great opportunity to just drive away. Certainly never pull a weapon out; things can only get worse.

It is normal to feel self-righteous when another driver acts like a childish bully on the playground and act defensively towards that aggression, but really: just let it go. Would you rather be right, or would you rather be alive?

This article is approved for informational purposes and is not intended to take the place of competent local legal counsel. It does not encourage anyone to become a vigilante.

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