Road Rage—Protecting Yourself Against Aggressive Drivers
Sharing the road with an aggressive driver is a terrifying experience. One minute you are minding your own business, maybe listening to music, and the next minute you have an angry driver flipping you off, tailgating, or doing even worse things.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect yourself against an aggressive driver in the grips of road rage. At Naqvi Injury Law, we make it a point to promote driver safety. It’s part of what being committed to the common good is all about. Below, our Las Vegas aggressive driving attorney offers some tips for getting to your destination in one piece.
Don’t Stop & Confront the Driver
Some road ragers want nothing better than to have you stop and get out of your vehicle. This can easily escalate into physical violence. Indeed, news stories report many incidents of angry drivers confronting and beating innocent people with baseball bats or crowbars.
Do not stop your vehicle even if someone is honking and trying to cut you off. Instead, continue driving until you reach a safe place (more below).
Put Some Distance Between You & the Aggressive Driver
Some people are particularly triggered when they think they’ve been cut off. You might not even have realized that you did so. But if someone is riding your tail and honking their horn, they probably want you to know that they are angry
One defensive tip is to let the aggressive driver get away from you. Distance is safety. Although you shouldn’t stop—since that invites the road rager to stop also and confront you—you can try to slow down or otherwise evade the driver:
- If someone is tailgating, pull off the nearest side road or highway exit
- If possible, change into the slow lane and allow the aggressive driver to speed on by
Often, an aggressive driver will race past you and you don’t have to deal with them anymore. Problem solved.
Avoid Causing a Crash
Some people are tempted to pump their brakes so that the road rager slams into them. This is a mistake. Even if the other driver is being aggressive, getting into a wreck could make the driver even angrier.
Some motorists wrongly think they can teach a tailgating driver “a lesson” by causing a rear-end collision. But a driver in the grips of road rage is not thinking rationally. All they will likely do is escalate the situation. Although we recommend trying to get away from the aggressive driver, don’t slam on the brakes and cause a collision.
Don’t Engage in Tit for Tat
Some road rage accidents happen with a simple gesture. Maybe someone flips you off and then you flip them off back. Or they cut you off aggressively, so you try to pass them so that you can cut them off.
This type of “tit for tat” is a huge trigger for road rage. It will only make the other driver angrier and possibly cause them to deliberately strike you. Even worse, you’ll only send yourself spiraling into road rage, which makes driving rationally almost impossible.
At least one driver must remain calm—and it might as well be you. Do the following instead of flipping a driver the bird or taking aggressive action yourself:
- Ignore anyone honking or making obscene gestures. Don’t respond at all.
- If you are stopped at an intersection and someone pulls up beside you, stare straight ahead. Don’t smirk or do anything. Simply ignore the person even if they start gesticulating wildly, honking, or rolling down the window and yelling at you.
- Listen to some soothing music if you need to get your heart rate down.
- Engage in deep breathing from your diaphragm. Three deep breaths can definitely reduce stress. Do this as many times as you like.
Understand Road Rage
Let’s take a timeout to fully understand road rage. Doing so can help lower the temperature when confronted with an aggressive driver.
Road rage is interesting. Some of the most aggressive drivers are actually pretty mild mannered if you were to run into them in a different context. What is it about driving which causes people to become so angry, even violent?
One cause is that people dehumanize the other driver, who they associate with their vehicle and don’t really see as a full person. At the same time, drivers tend to associate themselves with their own vehicle. These two facts reinforce each other and are disastrous.
Drivers also tend to assume the worst of other people. Imagine you are passing through an intersection when another driver cuts you off. You might immediately assume that the other driver is aggressive. In reality, they could have been distracted, or they could have been having a really bad day—a fight with a boss or spouse—and just not have been thinking clearly. In other words, the action they took wasn’t directed at you and it wasn’t an attempt to hurt you or intimidate you. But road rage drivers assume that it is.
This is at the root of the psychology of road rage—assuming the worst of other people. What could have been a mistake turns into an attack.
If you find someone honking their horn at you, tailgating, or flipping you off, remember what you have just read. Odds are you accidentally cut them off or did something that angered them. That doesn’t make you a bad person. And you can kind of understand why they are getting all bent.
Drive to the Police Station if You Feel Unsafe
Some aggressive drivers will start following you, hoping to catch you at home where they can confront you, possibly violently. You can protect yourself by driving calmly to the police station. Many drivers will calm down once they see where you are headed. At a minimum, you will now have police surrounding you so you can be protected if an angry driver tries to confront you.
Sometimes, we confront aggressive drivers on the freeway far from home, so we don’t know where the nearest police station is located. If that happens to you, try to pull into a busy gas station or anywhere where a lot of people are congregating. Stay in your vehicle and keep the doors locked, windows rolled up.
Call 9-1-1 to Report an Aggressive Driver
You should report an aggressive driver to the authorities so they can arrest this person before they cause a tragic accident. Provide as much information as you can, such as the direction the driver was headed, the color and make of their vehicle, and the license plate number (if you caught it).
Share This Article with Others
We all owe each other the duty to make our roads safer. One way you can accomplish that is to share this article with someone in your life who maybe experiences road rage or who is scared of angry and aggressive drivers on the road. By taking the right defensive steps, we can all reduce tension when dealing with aggressive drivers.
Some aggressive drivers will ram a vehicle out of frustration. They might try to force you off the road or cut you off so all you can do is swerve. If an aggressive driver has injured you in a crash, please contact Naqvi today. Our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys can spring into action to seek compensation for your losses by filing a lawsuit or settling a claim. Don’t let aggressive drivers ruin the road for everybody else. Speak up and defend your rights.