There’s no denying that driving can be stressful. Even the best of us have found ourselves yelling at another driver or cursing under our breath when we are stuck in particularly bad traffic, running late to work, or just having a bad day.
Feeling stressed or irritated during undesirable driving situations is normal, but a problem arises when these feelings escalate into road rage or aggressive driving.
Most drivers know how to control feelings of frustration and anger on the road before they escalate into violent or aggressive behaviors, whether by taking deep breaths, putting on soothing music, or simply letting the feeling go. But how do you deal with road rage or aggressive driving from the driver in the car behind you?
When you are sharing the road with an aggressive driver, it can be a frightening and perilous situation. Here are some tips on handling aggressive drivers, and protecting you and your family from acts of road rage:
Keep calm. Even if another driver is acting angrily or aggressively, it’s important to keep your own behavior calm and courteous. If another driver acts aggressively by cutting you off or tailgating, your reaction to his or her behavior will determine what happens next in the situation. Whenever possible, try to avoid conflict. If he or she attempts to engage you in an argument, ignore them and drive away.
Avoid eye contact. Even if it is not your intention, eye contact can be perceived as a challenge. Since many aggressive drivers are driven by personal insecurities and frustrations, they can be set off by something as simple as a raised eyebrow or smirk.
Refrain from using inflammatory gestures. It can be tempting to honk, swear, or make inflammatory hand gestures if someone is driving poorly or aggressively, but doing so can inflame a driver’s temper. Instead of releasing frustration or anger in this way, wait until you’re off the road to vent by sharing the story with a friend.
Leave some room. It can be tempting to scoot your car up into open space when there’s a lot of traffic around you, but this can cause some drivers to feel anxious and irritated. Try to leave a few feet behind the car in front of you to avoid agitating a fellow driver and to allow yourself space to make a speedy exit if the situation calls for it.
Stay out of the left lane. If a driver is trying to bully you into speeding up, move out of the right lane to let him or her pass. Put on your blinker to let the driver know you are planning to let them pass, and switch lanes when it’s safe to do so.
Follow traffic laws. A somewhat obvious but no less important way of preventing road rage is to follow local traffic laws as closely as you can. Always use directional lights to indicate a lane change and follow cars at a safe distance. Remain in one lane whenever possible and drive within the speed limits. Avoid texting or using your phone while driving. Use your horn only when absolutely necessary.
Find another parking space. It can be frustrating when another driver swipes the parking space you’ve been waiting for, but it’s not the end of the world. Instead of getting angry and trying to start an argument, assume that the driver may not have seen you and seek another space.
Stay safe. If a driver is acting aggressively, lock your doors and leave enough space in front of you to pull out. Call 911 if an angry driver approaches your car.
When driving, it’s a good idea to be tolerant of non-conforming traffic behaviors to a reasonable degree. But if another driver’s road rage or aggressive driving behavior causes you to get in a car accident, that’s when tolerance should end.
If you have been involved in an accident due to another’s angry or aggressive behaviors despite your own efforts to practice safe driving, contact a knowledgeable accident attorney as soon as possible. A skilled lawyer can help you hold dangerous drivers accountable for their actions and prevent them from causing similar accidents in the future. Not only will you be able to help keep aggressive driving off the road, you may be able to recover compensation for repairs, medical bills, and overall pain and suffering.
About the Author:
Steven Slootsky is a 1985 graduate of Nova Law School, which means he’s been a practicing Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer for more than 2 decades. He founded the Law Offices of The Injury Law Firm of South Florida in 1991. The Fort Lauderdale-based accident attorney is a member of the Florida Bar, as well as the Federal Bar for the Southern District for the U.S. District Court. During his career as a personal injury lawyer/auto accident compensation attorney, Steven has served as the co-chair of the Workers’ Compensation section for Broward County, Florida. He is also a Bronze member of the Florida Workers Advocates, a former member of the board, and serves as an “Eagle” member of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers.
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