Everyone has come across road rage at some point in their driving lives. When it happens, it can leave people feeling intimidated and scared. But with a bit of planning, the situation can often be prevented altogether.
Richard Gladman, the Head of Driving & Riding Standards at IAM Roadsmart, provides a few useful tips about how to avoid being a victim, and what to do if it escalates.
· When there’s conflict between two parties, there’s a chance that you’ve both played a part. This doesn’t mean you should react. Try to take yourself away from the problem – let the other driver go on ahead. Even if you feel wronged, letting the other party go will make no difference to the rest of your day.
· Is someone being confrontational or aggressive? If so, don’t make eye contact or react visibly. Try not to think about them so that the incident doesn’t affect you too much afterwards.
· If the other party is still being aggressive and you fear for your safety, call the police.
· If the other party approaches you in your car, consider driving away if you can do so safely. But don’t rush off like the getaway driver in a film, or if you think the other driver will chase you.
· Do you have a passenger who can film any behaviour on a mobile phone? It will help in terms of evidence. Remember to include the registration number of the other vehicle involved.
· Don’t open your door or your windows fully, and don’t start or get provoked into an argument.
· If you were at fault, admit it and apologise. It may be enough to diffuse the situation quickly. And do not do anything that can be interpreted as retaliation. Even if you weren’t at fault, is the argument really worth it?
Hopefully by now the matter is over and you are driving away. Acknowledge that the incident will have affected your behaviour. If you feel upset or emotional, pull over and get some fresh air or walk around if you need to before resuming your journey. Find some distraction like listening to the radio. Move your mind deliberately onto something else – deliberately driving well would be a good example – but don’t dwell on the incident.
“Road rage does not affect everyone every day,” Richard Gladman said. “But if you’re finding it is happening often, you might want to think about how you engage with other road users. No-one need experience road rage, but it us up to each of us to ensure it stays that way. So it is important not to be antagonistic or obstructive, perhaps making a person already having a bad day boil over.”