Road safety is one of the major concerns and responsibilities of every person who drives a vehicle. People go to driving schools to learn how to operate vehicles safely. They check their cars to ensure that they are functioning properly. But still, as the number of vehicle miles traveled is increasing, so is the number of people who die in traffic accidents. In 2016, the number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in the United States was 1.18, 2.6% more than in 2015.
Some things people do make roads less safe than they could be. Getting distracted while driving and drunk driving are some of them. And people get road rage, which often leads to disastrous consequences.
What Is Road Rage?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, road rage is the type of behavior that is found on the extreme end of the aggressive driving spectrum. Aggressive driving is described as driving that endangers or is likely to endanger people or property, and it is a traffic violation. Road rage is often a criminal offense.
The behaviors that constitute road rage start with violent verbalizations and hand gestures. They also include purposefully read-ending other drivers, trying to push them off the road, or getting out of the car to engage in a physical confrontation. Most worryingly, we are seeing an increase of road rage incidents that involve guns. In 2014, there were 247 of road rage incidents that involved brandishing or using a firearm. In 2016, there were 620.
What Causes Road Rage?
It is hard to say what causes road rage. Most people know that some things they can experience on the road can serve as a trigger. It is usually the driver that is doing something they should not be doing while driving that triggers the road rage. There is evidence that people usually react to drivers who are texting. They are followed by tailgaters, drivers who multitask, change lanes often, drive too slowly, and change lanes suddenly and without proper signaling.
Does this mean that you are a conscientious driver if you experience road rage? It's not likely. People who experience road rage are also more likely to engage in the types of behavior that can cause road rage. So while they might be mindful of other people's behavior, they do not pay as much attention to their own driving and the threat they pose.
How to Avoid Road Rage
You should know how to avoid being a target of someone else road rage. Driving in a responsible manner will help make you less of a target. If you make a mistake while driving, mouth that you are sorry and wave to the other driver. If there is someone tailgating you, change the lane. Allow people to overtake you. Avoid eye contact. Try to stay behind the person you believe is exhibiting signs of road rage because that way they can do less damage to you.
If you are a person who is prone to road rage, you can take a number of steps that will make you calmer during driving. You can listen to relaxing music, and place pictures of your loved ones inside your car so that they are visible to you. Resting well before driving can make you calmer. Avoiding alcohol also helps.
It is even more important that you recognize that you are a driver prone to road rage. You should monitor yourself for the types of behaviors that lead to road rage and reduce them. Stay under the speed limit and don't race to beat the traffic lights, for starters. Don't make obscene hand gestures at people. Don't tailgate, and don't behave like you are the sovereign of your lane. Remember that you have a responsibility towards everyone who is part of traffic to do your part in keeping the roads safe.