Driving naturally comes with many risks of harm, but one that is increasing is road rage. Road rage refers to when a driver shows aggressive, intimidating or threatening behaviors in response to another person's driving or reaction. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that almost 80 percent of drivers expressed road rage at least one time in the last year, with about eight million resorting to extreme behaviors. If you find yourself the recipient of someone else's anger on the road, here is what to do and not do.
Don't drive recklessly
The first thing you should do is avoid driving recklessly in response to an angry driver. Examples of reckless driving include the following:
- Braking suddenly when someone is following you too closely
- Swerving to block the driver from passing you or changing lanes
- Speeding to tailgate or pass someone who cut you off
- Ramming into the other vehicle
Reacting in an aggressive way only increases the chances of you getting into an accident. Even something seemingly harmless such as slowing down considerably also affects the other cars behind you and holds up traffic. If it's possible and safe to do so, let the angry driver pass you so you both can get on your way.
Don't respond with angry behavior
It's easy to want to return someone else's road rage with your own. Take the higher road and skip giving the driver an obscene gesture, yelling and cursing back or confronting the person. These behaviors may escalate the situation and put you and any other passengers in danger.
Do pull into a safe place
If a raging driver continues to follow you, and you fear your safety, pull into a public place. The ideal location is a police station, where you would have immediate help if the driver tries to start a fight, threatens you or causes physical harm. If there are no police stations around, other options are a fire station or busy commercial parking lot. The idea is to be in a place where you aren't alone and there are plenty of witnesses in case something happens. You can also call 911.
Do hire an attorney in the event of an accident
If you end up getting into an accident due to someone's road rage, it's wise to contact an attorney. Getting legal representation can ease the burden of responsibility of taking the next steps after an accident, especially if you are injured. An experienced attorney will have the knowledge and resources needed to handle your insurance claim properly.