When an enraged driver approaches you, try to put yourself in their shoes. They may be rushing to the hospital for an emergency or late for their job interview.
Regardless of the reason, responding negatively to their actions only escalates the situation. Instead, take a few deep breaths and follow these tips for dealing with a driver with road rage:
Don’t Get Out of Your Car
While getting out of your car and confronting an aggressive driver is tempting, this is dangerous. A driver with road rage may hit you, their passenger, or someone else. If they are threatening to harm anyone, call the police or drive to a public place with lots of witnesses (such as a police station).
When you are safe from an angry driver, roll your windows up and lock your doors. This will create a buffer between you and the other driver, making it more difficult for them to invade your space or cause a serious incident. Don’t even look at them – eye contact can escalate anger. Avoid gestures that could be misinterpreted as rude or aggressive, such as waving, yelling, or making finger gestures toward the other driver. These actions can fuel their rage and cause them to return the favor. Instead, try giving an apologetic wave when you pass them.
Don’t Give In
Even though you may be in the right, it is incredibly dangerous to engage with an angry driver. They might be armed or have a passenger who could become a victim of their aggressive actions. Ignoring a driver who cuts you off, tailgates, or makes rude hand gestures is best.
It is also important to stay in your vehicle and lock the doors. Turning up your music or using your phone is also a good idea to distract yourself and calm down.
If the driver continues to follow you, it is best to seek out a safe, neutral spot off the road, such as a police station or parking lot, and pull into it. This will prevent the enraged driver from knowing where to find you. This will also keep the situation from escalating.
It’s tempting to take another driver’s actions personally, but it’s unlikely that the person is deliberately trying to upset you. Rather, they may be having a bad day or in a hurry to get home to see their loved ones.
Attempting to respond to their aggression only escalates the situation. Instead, keep driving and distance your vehicle from the other one as much as possible. If the rage driver follows you, drive to a safe public place where you can exit your car and call for help.
Once you’ve pulled over, note their license plate number so the police can identify the dangerous driver and car. You may also want to note the incident in your journal so that you can remember it for future use.
Don’t Make Eye Contact
When dealing with a driver who seems to be going into road rage, it is important to remember that their anger may have nothing to do with you. You never know what personal tragedy is happening in their life that upsets them. In extreme cases, road rage can lead to physical confrontations and even fatalities.
Avoiding eye contact can help you avoid getting sucked into the situation. If you encounter an aggressive driver, don’t make eye contact or respond to their rude gestures or insults. Keeping a safe distance from the other driver’s vehicle is also important.
If you are being followed or tailgated, don’t drive home; instead, drive to a police station, convenience store, hospital, or shopping center that is public and has plenty of witnesses. This can discourage the other driver from following you and could help to de-escalate the situation. If you cannot drive away, honk to get the other driver’s attention and try to stay calm as they pass you.