In June, a Pennsylvania man was charged with the death of a recent female high school graduate. He shot her in the head as the two tried to merge into a single lane. Her car struck a tree and landed in a ditch. The man fled in his pickup. He was picked up a few days later charged with first- and third-degree murder, possession of an instrument of crime, and reckless endangering in the young woman’s death.
This is obviously road-rage in the extreme; unfortunately, it seems to be increasing both in quantity and violence.
What is road rage?
Road rage, a criminal offense, is an excessive form of aggressive driving. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines it as an “assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of a motor vehicle or an assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway…” on another vehicle.
How to wisely deal with road rage
I don’t think there is anyone among us who hasn’t experienced road rage. Some jerk makes a turn in front of us, or someone suddenly changes lanes without using a blinker. The scenarios are endless.
To wisely deal with road rage, start with yourself and then with others. Here are a few things each one of us can do to limit our reactions to others on the road and how to remain safe.
- Leave for your destination allowing plenty of time to get there without feeling rushed. Not feeling rushed diminishes your reaction to the actions of other drivers and makes you a safer driver.
- Listen to music. It is a nice distraction, as long as you don’t pick aggressive, fast-moving music. Pick calm, beautiful music.
- If you do get incensed, think about what you could lose if you over-reacted. You could end up in jail, lose your job, your family, or your life. Think before you act.
- Pull over and get away from the aggressive driver.
- Never use your car to act out your road rage. Enraged people honk their horns and flash their lights when experiencing road rage. Don’t.
- If someone isn’t in the car with you, pretend there is. You become a different, safer driver when responsible for someone else.
- Understand that people do stupid things and that there is not anything you can do about it. Work to maintain your cool.
- Avoid eye contact.
- Ignore gestures.
- Don’t take the aggression personally.
- Give the aggressor the benefit of the doubt. He or she may be having a terrible day.
- Never get out of your vehicle, as it offers protection.
- Allow enough room around your vehicle so you can pull out or around, if the aggressor approaches your vehicle.
- Call 911, if you feel you may be in danger.
Remember, the driver is part of someone’s family. They expect to see him or her home that night. In this very tense world, patience is an incredible virtue. We all need to practice it.
Please, drive calmly and stay safe out there.
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