Threats of Road Rage and What You Can Do About It

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In Seattle on February 9, road rage managed to push more drivers off the deep end. This time, it was between a 23-year-old female motorcyclist and a 60-year-old male in a car. No one is sure what got them both so riled up, but at one point they were stopped in the left lane and physically fighting each other on the ground. The fight ended when the female motorcyclist shot the man after he punched her. He is now dead, and her charges are still being determined.

In Minnesota, a few days after the previous incident, a man with a knife was shot by a man with a gun because he was trying to assault another driver after a car crash.

Another incident occurred in Washington state after a minor rear-end car crash.  When one driver was taking photos of the damage, the other driver in the car with a license plate that touted the message “DIRTBAG” yelled racist threats at them and pulled out a gun. When officers arrived, he punched a police officer in the face and threatened to kill them.  

Sadly, there are more stories of irrational road rage, and we all live with the possibility of encountering it every time we get on the public roads. It’s important to take a moment and realize just how serious the problem of road rage is, and consider what we can do if we encounter someone with this problem.

About Road Rage

  • 80% of drivers have some kind of road rage, and an estimate of 8 million of them engage other drivers with some kind of scary tactics such as face-to-face confrontation on up to ramming other cars. The most common tactics are blocking drivers from changing lanes, purposefully running drivers off the road, and using weapons to harm someone or their vehicle.
  • Road rage is NOT the same as aggressive driving.  According to the law, aggressive driving is a traffic violate, but road rage is a criminal offense. It becomes road rage when someone does more than speeding, gesturing, and just expressing himself or herself. When they purposely try to cause someone or the other person’s vehicle harm, this is when things get more serious.
  • Aggressive driving causes 66% of all traffic deaths and 33% of these deaths is due to speeding.
  • More than 1,300 gun-related road rage incidents happened between January 2014 and December 2014. For comparison, Japan had a sum total of 6 reported gun deaths in 2014 on and off the road.

How to Protect Yourself from Unhinged Drivers

The 2009 US Census Report tells us that there are around 18,783,073 drivers on the road at any given time. With this many people out and about it is inevitable that every driver will encounter aggressive driving and/or road rage at some point. Here are some suggestions for dealing with someone that gets set off into a psychotic rage:

Remain friendly and wave to show you acknowledge them.  

It helps to sooth the angry driver with a little pacification.  So, sometimes it is just  best to apologize even if it isn’t really your fault, and then let them go wherever they are going with their bad attitude. It really makes no difference if you just let them think they are right. If you challenge them, things could get very dangerous very quickly.  Instead, don’t take their hatefulness personally. Who knows why they are overreacting? Everyone’s had a bad day here and there, and it is best not to see how far this angry driver can go off the deep end over who had the right-of-way.

Do not get out of your car.  

Numerous times when people do this, a fight ensues and sometimes it has goes to the death.

Call police.

When the driver starts to threaten you, that is already enough reason to call 911, and be sure to tell them you are calling the police, too. A lot of times this causes them to stop. Take note of the color, make, and model of their car, and also their license plate just in case they run off before the cops show up.  Of course, take at least a mental note of what the person looks like as well.

Disengage.

Don’t give into the urge to argue back with them, no matter how they might choose to verbally attack you. Sometimes it help to try to look at their behavior with a sense of humor. If all else fails, the best thing to do is just simply stop looking at them, roll up your window, and drive to a nearby police or fire station. If they choose to follow you, then you most certainly should not drive home. It is probably not a good idea for them to know where you live.

In addition to this, it is also a good idea to avoid broadcasting any information about yourself with bumper stickers, logos, license plate frames, etc.  This is because even if you manage to lose the driver, there is no guarantee that they are going to move on with their life and forget about you. Some people are very mentally disturbed, and unfortunately, they might have quite an agenda against you simply because you drove in some way that they didn’t approve of. It is in your best interest that they not get any clues about where else they might find you or your family just in case they have grown determined.  

Many people joke about road rage, but when someone is victimized by it, it is definitely no laughing matter. There are many theories about why people get so worked up while driving, but one thing is for certain. These drivers can be very dangerous. Take care of yourself out there on the road. Finally, if you or someone you care about  has a tendency to drive aggressively, consider finding a way to handle difficult emotions such as  anger management classes or therapy before losing control.

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