Road Rage

Over the past few years, stories in the press seem to indicate that as a nation, we are becoming less and less patient with other drivers. The term 'road rage' is used to describe the actions of those people who cannot control their temper and become aggressive to other road users, usually in response to another person's driving (for example, someone may have cut in front of them), or simply as a result of the general traffic conditions (such as road works or traffic jams). Symptoms of road rage and aggressive driving include:

  • speeding and aggressive acceleration
  • cutting others off
  • tailgating
  • weaving in and out of traffic
  • sounding the vehicle's horn or flashing lights excessively
  • rude gestures
  • shouting verbal abuse and threats
  • pursuing for retaliation or revenge of a perceived slight
  • deliberately hitting another person, car or object with their own vehicle
  • hitting a person or vehicle with a weapon such as a golf club, tyre iron or baseball bat
  • threatening to use or using a firearm or other deadly weapon

Dealing with Road Rage

Although violent motoring-related incidents are relatively rare, it is important that you know how to avoid confrontation, and what to do if you feel threatened by another driver:

  • Remember that politeness goes a long way. Say thank you to the driver that lets you in; common courtesy encourages cooperative, safe use of the road.
  • If you do make a mistake when driving, always try to apologise to any driver that you may have affected. Most road rage incidents are triggered by a driver thinking that someone has treated them discourteously, and a simple apology often goes a long way to reduce confrontation and will help to defuse anger.
  • If this does not work and the other driver is becoming threatening towards you, avoid making eye contact with them (this may be seen as confrontational), and try not to react.
  • Continue to drive calmly and safely, and do not respond by braking, accelerating or swerving suddenly. The other driver may see this as a provocation. What's more, you could lose control of your car.
  • If the other driver continues to use threatening behaviour, drive calmly to a police station or other busy place (such as a petrol station) and stop. However, if you're on the motorway, do not exit onto an unfamiliar road; try to merge in with other vehicles.
  • Keep your doors locked, your windows closed, and do not get out of your car. If you have a mobile phone, telephone the police. You may also use your lights and car horn to attract attention.
  • Never carry a defensive weapon for protection; this may simply provoke a potential attacker.

Avoiding Road Rage

As a driver, you will come to realise that any car trip can potentially cause conflict or frustration. However, by following just a few tips, you can ensure that each journey you take is a calm and stress-free one.

  • It is important to get into the right frame of mind before you get into the car; tell yourself that you will not let any other drivers irritate or frustrate you, and that you will drive coolly and calmly.
  • Be patient whilst you drive - don't force your way aggressively into queues. Whilst many drivers are quite happy to let someone in who is signally clearly and waiting calmly, few people like being forced to do so.
  • Be a courteous driver; if you are waiting in a traffic queue, let drivers in who are waiting at a junction to your road, and if you are in a lane of traffic that is merging with another, use the rule 'Let one in and go'.
  • If another driver does something aggravating, do bear in mind that it may have been completely unintentional. Give them the benefit of the doubt - after all, we all make mistakes.
  • Remember - it is not your place to 'educate' any driver who you think is driving badly or dangerously; leave the wrong doers to the police. Do not compete or retaliate to let them know how you feel.