While driving, you may become frustrated or upset on the road for a number of reasons. For instance, being cut off by another driver, seeing a nearby motorist disobey road signage or getting stuck in a traffic jam may prompt these feelings. In any case, such feelings could lead to aggressive driving behaviors or—in severe cases—road rage.
Road rage refers to a driver being in a state of extreme anger or hostility in response to inconveniences or incidents that occur behind the wheel. While experiencing road rage, a driver is more likely to engage in retaliatory behaviors against motorists who have “wronged” them, potentially resulting in dangerous or violent interactions.
Drivers with road rage can pose major safety concerns for themselves and their fellow motorists. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that since 2008, nearly 1,500 people have been killed in vehicle crashes stemming from aggressive driving or road rage. Considering these findings, it’s clear that drivers like you need to prioritize road rage prevention. Keep reading for more information on road rage and ways to avoid it while driving company vehicles, thus keeping yourself and others safe behind the wheel.
What Is Road Rage?
Any dangerous behavior performed intentionally and with minimal regard for safety on the road is considered aggressive driving. Extreme cases of aggressive driving, in which a motorist becomes increasingly erratic or hostile toward other drivers (particularly in attempts to “punish” them), can constitute road rage. Common behaviors associated with road rage include the following:
- Yelling, honking, using obscene language or making crude gestures at other drivers
- Driving at excessive speeds, failing to use turn signals or disregarding traffic lights and road signage
- Tailgating, flashing headlights at or braking suddenly in front of other drivers
- Weaving in and out of traffic, cutting off other drivers or blocking their paths (e.g., preventing them from changing lanes)
- Throwing objects at other drivers
- Chasing other drivers, intentionally hitting their vehicles or running them off the road
- Getting out of a vehicle to verbally or physically assault other drivers, sometimes with deadly weapons
Road rage can result from a wide range of factors. Here’s a breakdown:
- Being late—Drivers who are running behind schedule or encounter various delays on the road (e.g., construction, detours, traffic jams or slower drivers) are more likely to become impatient and experience road rage.
- Witnessing poor behaviors—If drivers repeatedly witness other motorists engaging in aggressive behaviors behind the wheel, they may also adopt such behaviors, potentially leading to road rage.
- Disregarding safety—Drivers who hold little regard for traffic laws or the safety of others are more likely to experience road rage.
- Leveraging anonymity—Similar to the nature of the internet and social media platforms, drivers may justify aggressive behaviors on the road under the premise that they probably won’t encounter their fellow motorists again. Yet, these unsafe attitudes can lead to road rage.
Road rage doesn’t always stem from situations that happened behind the wheel, but rather from feelings that existed before a motorist even got in the driver’s seat. In particular, road rage can occur more frequently among drivers who are already overwhelmed or upset due to personal reasons (e.g., financial hardship or family struggles) or mental health problems.
Regardless of the cause, road rage can have serious consequences. Research shows that road rage limits a driver’s decision-making capabilities, greatly increasing their likelihood of being involved in an accident and subsequently causing injuries or fatalities. As such, it’s critical for motorists like you to keep road rage under control and uphold safe driving habits.
Road Rage Prevention Measures
Consider these best practices to mitigate road rage while driving company vehicles:
- Plan accordingly. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination to prevent feeling rushed. If possible, plan your route in advance and look for ways to avoid areas with heavy traffic. If you are running late, contact the appropriate parties before you leave and take your time while driving.
- Be kind. Remain courteous and respectful toward other drivers, regardless of their behaviors on the road. Remember that such behavior likely isn’t personal, and focus on what you can control. If you make a mistake while driving, be sure to apologize to those involved by offering a smile and a wave.
- Refrain from copying others. Even if other drivers act aggressively, don’t follow suit. Always obey the rules of the road. This includes complying with all traffic lights and road signage, maintaining an appropriate following distance, keeping a safe speed, operating your lights and horn responsibly, braking gradually and using proper signals.
- Stay relaxed. Try to remain as calm as possible while driving. You can do so by drinking enough water, eating a healthy snack and adjusting your seat to ensure maximum comfort before getting behind the wheel. In addition, consider listening to relaxing music while you drive to help ease your mind. Avoid driving altogether if you feel overly stressed, angry, sad or fatigued.
- Don’t respond. If another motorist acts hostile toward you while driving, don’t give them a reaction. Instead, stay focused on the road ahead. If you feel threatened at any point behind the wheel, contact 911.
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