It can start with something simple and quickly escalate. Curses, honking horns, rude gestures, following too closely, speeding, changing lines to cut off another driver and physical threats and more all can lead to deadly accidents. Are you doing enough to prevent road rage? Research shows there are some key behaviors that provoke aggressive drivers:
Driving slowly in the left lane. If you are in the left lane and someone wants to pass, consider moving over to the right lane. It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling the speed limit and they are speeding. Move over and let them pass. The left lane is a passing lane. Slow left lane drivers are an annoyance for many people on the road and can be a real trigger to an aggressive driver.
Tailgating. Remember the three-second rule? Maintain a following distance of at least three seconds. No one likes being followed too closely. Allow ample space between your car and the car ahead of you. Even if you think another driver is driving too slowly and you’re unable to pass, slow down and give them space. Remember, if someone is driving slowly, keep in mind they might be new to the area, unsure of where they are going or are lost.
If you feel you’re being tailgated by another driver, stay calm and avoid braking hard to try and encourage more space. If you’re on a multi-lane road and it’s safe to move to another lane, consider doing so. If there isn’t, consider turning off into a side street or parking lot to let them pass. If you have no options for moving out of the way and are driving at a safe speed, don’t increase your speed above posted limits. Breaking the law or driving faster than you are comfortable driving is only a recipe for disaster — or a speeding ticket. When the tailgater does pass your vehicle, don’t glare or engage them.
Using gestures. Avoid making any gestures that might anger other drivers, such as shaking your head or making hand gestures. Many road rage incidents start with a simple gesture. Avoid confronting another driver in any way. If someone is gesturing to you, don’t respond or make eye contact. Things can quickly escalate. And don’t stop your vehicle and get out and confront another driver. If you feel threatened, call 911 or drive to the nearest police station.
Honking your horn. Sure, there’s a horn on your vehicle. But honking out of frustration isn’t going to help any situation on the road. If you’re honked at, think twice before responding in any way.
And don’t forget: If you’re worried that the other driver is following you, keep your doors locked and call 911 or drive to the nearest police station.