Everyone is familiar with road rage. A car cuts in front of you and brakes. The driver beside you won’t budge even when all traffic comes to a halt.
Drivers cut quickly across lanes without signaling. They run red lights, tailgate, and flip the finger at other drivers who honk or drive up to them. Sometimes drivers will flash their headlights to warn that they are going to pass on your left side.
The bad news is these brewing feelings of anger can get the best of any driver. According to AAA, over 75 percent of drivers reported committing at least one example of aggressive driving behavior within the past year. Road rage was also responsible for at least 30 deaths and nearly 2,000 injuries annually.
If you ever find yourself in a road-rage situation, you need to contact a criminal defense lawyer ASAP. Sometimes your behavior may be a reaction to another’s aggressive action toward you. Moreover, depending on the outcome of the road rage, the penalties include some jail time, a huge fine, or worse, even a trial.
However, it can also help understand why aggressive driving, which can result from road rage, happens.
Causes of Road Rage
There are several major causes of road rage. These include:
- An increase in traffic volume and congestion, which makes road users more frustrated about their commute
- A feeling of anonymity that leads to a lack of empathy for other drivers
- High speed limits contribute to higher speeds on the roads
- Learned behavior (you may acquire the same behavior from a friend or a family member like a parent)
- Developed habit
Another growing factor is the increasing level of violence in society as a whole. Many drivers have learned to be aggressive at home and now bring this ‘experience’ onto the road, where they can’t talk back or fight physically.
Road design may also be very poor. Many drivers may not practice lane discipline. Intersections are often badly designed and confusing, and one-way streets abound in some places. In one-way streets, confusing intersections could slow down traffic. All these can lead to feelings of frustration, and you may be tempted to let them out on something or someone.
Several drivers today tend not to follow road rules. In many countries, they ignore red lights regularly, as are pedestrian crossings and double-white lines. They open car doors near moving vehicles without looking at all for cars coming up behind. Pedestrians crossing streets often walk in front of traffic instead of at crosswalks or pedestrian crossings.
What Can You Do About It?
Road rage is a strong negative emotion, but you can also learn to manage or control it like any other emotion. Everyone should follow these suggestions:
- When driving, keep your emotions under control. If you feel angry or frustrated behind the wheel, pull over to a safe place and relax. Don’t let yourself get so worked up that you can’t drive safely.
- Raise your awareness of road conditions and how other drivers are reacting to those conditions. For instance, it is important to be conscious of when traffic begins to slow down, especially in heavy-volume areas like construction zones or busy freeways. This can help you avoid being the cause of road rage because you didn’t notice what was going on around you.
- You will need to give other drivers plenty of room when passing them at intersections or side roads. This may not always be easy while cars are coming from all sides, but it can be done. It’s also important to remember that when you go out into the road to pass another driver and then turn back in front of them, they may become angry because you didn’t let them know your intentions.
- By making sure you are driving safely, you can avoid getting upset with other drivers causing traffic problems or cutting in front of you at intersections.
- When waiting for a light, don’t stare angrily at the person who is blocking your path. Instead, smile and look away. This simple action will help take your mind off the situation.
- If someone tries to get by you on either side, make sure that they notice how close they are coming to your car. If not, honk your horn to try to get their attention and let them know that they are getting too close for your comfort level.
- When you see someone being aggressive behind the wheel, be a good citizen and call the police. It can’t hurt, and it could save someone’s safety in a critical situation.
- If you see a driver who needs help with an elderly family member or kids in the backseat, pull over to offer assistance if you have time. Be a good neighbor!
Road rage is a behavior that can lead to consequences you will regret later. Keep your emotions in check, and when you find yourself in a tight spot, get legal help so you will know what to do.