We, along with the soldiers serving our country in Iraq and Afghanistan, became acutely aware of the life threatening danger of roadside IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). Coincidently, psychiatrists have also named the cause of road rage incidents here at home an “I.E.D.” (Intermittent Explosive Disorder). This type of I.E.D. can be just as deadly, so here are some practical tips to recognize, avoid and safely respond to such incidents:
We’ve all seen the familiar signs of road rage including dangerous tailgating, flashing or bright beam headlights, repeated honking, obscene gesturing, shouting, and/or cutting back dangerously in front of another car.
THE GOLDEN RULE # 1- Never react in kind to this type of behavior. Simply put, you have no idea who this person is nor what’s going on in their lives at that moment. Completely unknown to you are their possible psychiatric problems, physical size, state of intoxication, criminal history, or if they are armed with a weapon of some type. This is a potentially deadly situation that must be de-escalated as quickly as possible.
PRIMARILY, your goal needs to be AVOIDANCE. Here’s how:
-Always be as good a driver as you can be. You need to follow all the rules of the road - don’t tailgate, obey speed limits, always use your turn signals, pay attention to stop light changes, yield the right of way if there is any confusion, only use your horn when absolutely necessary, etc., etc. Basic stuff right? Then do it! However, realize that bad things can still happen so…………….
COMMIT YOURSELF TO A SAFE RESPONSE:
-Stay calm and alert while completely focusing on your immediate situation. Don’t taketheir bad behavior personally. Don’t engage in any way and, if present, instruct your passengers to behave in the same manner.
-Place both hands on the steering wheel and leave them there. Don’t be tempted to give a one fingered wave or signal that they are #1 in your opinion.
-Allow the other vehicle to pass and avoid eye contact. Slow down a bit but not enough to cause them to think you are attempting to confront or agitate them. If possible, pull over to the farthest right travel lane and proceed at the posted speed.
-Take note of the car’s description, plate number, driver’s appearance and your location. When you or preferably a passenger can safely do it, use your cell phone (which should be pre-programmed to dial 911) and contact the police. Request that they send help and have the dispatcher stay on the line until you are out of danger.
- If you continue to be followed, consider driving to the nearest police station, fire station, or at least a very crowded, well lighted public location. Your GPS will give you directions to such locations at the touch of a button or by your voice commands. Once there, if you are still being followed, sound your horn repeatedly. Do not exit your vehicle until you are absolutely safe.
Some Important DON’T’S:
- DON’T STOP AND DON’T GET OUT OF YOUR CAR.
- DON’T roll down any window or unlock your doors.
-DON’T make eye contact or respond in any manner. Play dumb - it’s easy!
-DON’T go home immediately since he would now know where you live. It enables him to confront you when exiting your car or at a later time of his choosing.
-DON’T tap on or apply your brakes to “scare them off”. It could easily be seen as a challenge and cause an increased response or, worse yet, result in a rear-end collision.
-DON’T text nor drive one handed while yakking on your phone. Obviously, it’s very dangerous and has become a known “trigger” for some fellow drivers who observe this behavior.
-DON’T attempt to get away by wildly speeding through traffic. This reaction will maximize the potentially dangerous consequences for everyone.
A FREE GIFT FOR YOU!
Most road rage incidents will begin as a complete surprise. There is an action by someone, a potential reaction from the other person, and the incident unfolds or doesn’t. My message to you is don’t be the cause of the initial action. Drive safely, politely, and simply follow the rules of the road. Secondly, don’t get involved in someone else’s maniacal behavior. It’s not always easy, but just let it go. Your life or well-being is not worth risking because of this idiot’s behavior. Finally, as a reminder of the real possibility of a road rage incident, I’d like to send you a “Stay Calm-Be Smart” sticker for placement inside your vehicle. It’s intended to remind you to avoid and safely respond to a road rage incident when you get behind the wheel. Simply click here or on the sticker’s image, provide the necessary information, and I will be happy to mail it to you for free.
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