Monday, 20 May 2013

Car Safety-Avoiding Road Rage

road rage

Considering the high volume of drivers on our roadways, each day, there are thousands of drivers running late, stressed out, and often times inpatient, leading them to drive aggressively.  Aggressive drivers fail to adhere to road safety by speeding, failing to yield, passing when it’s unsafe, and causing many innocent drivers to fall victim to their “bullying”.  Additionally, many aggressive drivers cause car accidents that leave other motorists injured and needing an accident lawyer.  An aggressive driver, who continues to drive with such carelessness, putting everyone’s lives at risk (including their own), could end up being a prime suspect or a victim of road rage.  Road rage does not just describe an angry driver, but a driver who drives aggressively with the intention to cause physical harm to other motorists.

Road Rage is Real

We’ve seen road rage portrayed in film.  An innocent driver is driving at night on a deserted highway and suddenly, out of nowhere, a car follows closely and aggressively, shining its brights and the tension increases as the two cars are bumper to bumper.  The driver tries to flee from danger, but is ultimately pushed off the road at such a speed that the car flips and blows up instantly.  Yes, that’s a Hollywood version of road rage, but the real thing is not too far off.  Almost daily, in the news, another senseless act of road rage makes headlines: Man armed with hammer dies after road rage chase or Man points gun at woman in apparent road rage incident.  Such incidents leave people questioning, “Why?” but there rarely seems to be any clear answers other than the fact that one driver was annoyed with how the other driver was driving.  Because vehicles are the main transportation for many people, fear should not be instilled in drivers, but educating them on how to avoid road rage could save their lives.

Avoiding Road Rage

Sure, other drivers can be annoying.  Ever been in rush hour on a hot day in July and felt enraged that the person in front of you seems to have forgotten how to use his turn signal while he merges, suddenly, in front of you?  In response, do you lay on the horn, flip him the middle finger and follow him so closely that your bumpers almost touch?  The traffic is stop and go and you’re not going anywhere anytime soon, so why so angry?  If you are so enraged by one driver failing to use a turn signal, you should calm down.  Take a deep breath, focus on your own driving, and try to forget that he failed to use the signal.  Who knows, maybe his signal is burned out and he doesn’t know it?  Try to be a bit forgiving.

Then there’s the other side.  You are driving on the freeway, trying to keep a safe distance from the car in front of you.  You notice the driver behind you, gesturing wildly and honking repeatedly.  You see a lane closure coming up and you slow down to let other motorist merge.  Before you know it, the angry driver is on your tail and has bumped your bumper with a light, but forceful intent.  You pick up speed, hoping to please him, but he follows closely.  The closer he gets, you can see he is screaming.  Seeing a visible shoulder up ahead, you pull over, hoping he’ll pass.  Instead, he follows you, gets out of the car and proceeds to approach you while you sit (trying to stay calm) in your car.  After screaming obscenities at you and trying to open your car door, a highway patrol shows up (as she got a tip from a fellow motorist) and sends you on your way, holding back the angry motorist.

Before you find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation on the road, there are ways to avoid road rage:

-          Don’t tailgate or flash your lights at another driver.  Not only is tailgating viewed as “bullying”, but it is also dangerous, as you should try to stay within a car length of the vehicle in front of you.

-          Don’t hog the left lane.  Left lanes are for passing.  Once you have passed, move over to the right, especially if you have someone behind you, who clearly wants to pass.

-          Go easy on the horn.  For many drivers, it’s an instinctual and seemingly safe way to tell other drivers that you’re annoyed or that they are doing something wrong.  Using your horn too much could aggravate an already angry driver.

-          Avoid eye contact.  Angry drivers want you to look at them.  They want to see physical fear or want to see if you are up for a “challenge”.  Even if you are scared or want to show them how you really feel, ignore them by keeping your eyes on the road.

-          Don’t make inappropriate gestures.  Did a driver just show you his middle finger?  While it’s tempting to flip them the bird back, don’t do it.

-          If you feel as if you are in danger or if you feel like the driver is really trying to hurt you, call 911.

Our roads are packed with drivers and even if it’s hot and traffic is slow or you’ve had the worst day ever, keep your driving and your attitude in check.  Don’t allow yourself to be an aggressive driver and steer clear of others who drive aggressively.  Avoid road rage can save your life.

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Andrew Miller is an Avid Legal Blogger, environmental law student, and author. Find him on Twitter @amillerblog