Aside from an accident or a really close call, there’s nothing scarier than a bad case of road rage, notes ShopSmart, the shopping magazine from the publisher of Consumer Reports.
Honking at you and swerving, tailgating your car, shouting, intentionally and repeatedly stopping short in front of you, and making angry gestures are all clear signs of road rage. And they can lead to deadly situations.
ShopSmart suggests these ways of preventing road rage and protecting yourself if it strikes:
• Don’t be the problem. Law enforcement officials ShopSmart spoke with said the best way to avoid road rage is to make sure your own driving is not the cause. That means avoiding behavior that might provoke other drivers.
“We have said time and time again that courtesy on the road could weed out and breed out road rage,” says Lt. Paul Vance, commanding officer of public information for the Connecticut State Police. “Following too close, cutting off, cutting in – those are the things that aggravate motorists.”
Driving slowly in the left lane is another “trigger” that can incite other drivers, says Lt. Gary Megge of the Michigan State Police Traffic Crash Reconstruction Unit.
“These situations can easily be avoided by paying attention to your surroundings and applying common courtesy when you are behind the wheel,” he says. In addition, try to avoid using your horn unless you or someone else is in danger.
• Give plenty of room. Don’t escalate things or challenge an angry driver by speeding up or fighting for lane position on the road. Instead, try to get out of his way. Confrontation with someone who is already aggravated is only going to make things worse, according to Vance.
• Call for help. If you have a passenger, ask her to dial 911, or depending on the circumstances, you might want to try to pull over to a safe location and make the call yourself. “If you’re fearful or confronted with danger, you should notify police immediately,” Vance says.
• Avoid a fight. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advises motorists not to make eye contact and to ignore angry gestures without returning them. NHTSA says doing those things will only further enrage an angry driver. “It’s never prudent to stop and have a personal confrontation,” Vance advises.
• Go public. ShopSmart notes that the worst thing you can do is lead an angry driver to your home. You don’t want the bad guy to know where you live.
“If you feel threatened, drive to a local or state police location,” Vance says. “Or drive to a place where there are a lot of people, such as a mall, where there are people, security and there is safety in numbers.”