How You Can Avoid Aggressive Drivers
Incidents of road rage—those times when drivers act out their anger behind the wheel by trying to hurt another driver or a pedestrian—are becoming more frequent. The following tips can help you avoid incidents with aggressive or violent drivers—and help you avoid such behavior yourself.
Being a courteous driver can help you avoid being a victim of road rage. To be courteous:
Signal every time you merge, change lanes or turn.
Use your horn only when needed to get another driver's attention to prevent an accident.
If another driver wants to get in front of you, let him or her go ahead.
If you and another driver see a parking space at the same time, let the other person have it.
Surveys indicate certain behaviors are most likely to cause an angry response in drivers. To protect yourself:
Avoid cutting someone off. Always make sure you have plenty of room before merging onto a highway. Use your turn signal before moving over.
Avoid driving slowly in the left lane. If someone wants to pass you and you're in the left lane, move over to the right lane when it's safe to do so and let the person pass.
Avoid tailgating. Allow more than enough room between your car and the car ahead of you.
Avoid gesturing in obscene or condescending ways. Never make such a gesture toward another driver.
Use these approaches if someone is acting aggressively toward you:
Give the person lots of room. If another driver is directing aggressive behavior toward you, put as much room as possible between your vehicle and the other car. Never pull off to the side of the road to settle things.
Get help. If another driver is following you or trying to start a fight, use your cellular phone to call the police. If you don't have a cell phone, drive to a place with lots of people—a police station or convenience store. Don't get out of your car when the person is there.
Adjust your attitude
Taking these steps can help you prevent angry responses:
Forget winning. Driving isn't a contest or a race. Slow down and allow more time for routine trips.
Get help if you often feel angry when you drive. Books or courses on anger management and stress reduction can help you make driving a more pleasant experience for yourself and others. Seek help from a mental-health professional if you can't reduce your anger on your own.
- Gomez, Wanda, RN, PhD
- newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician