Road Rage

Los Angeles is the Number 1 City in America for Vehicle Violence and Angelenos are at Their Angriest on Fridays

It’s Friday evening, early summer.  You are sitting in your car on the 405, traffic is at a near standstill.  It’s been an hour and you have only traveled six miles.  You are listening to KUSC which is, ironically enough, playing Rich Capparela’s wonderful “anti-road rage” playlist.  As Chopin’s Waltz Op. 64 No. 2 gracefully lulls you into a somnolent repose, the space between you and the car in front of you gradually widens.  Then suddenly, out of nowhere a bright yellow Hummer cuts in front of you, nearly clipping the front of your car.

Later that same night, you are driving your family to your favorite restaurant.  You are cruising at 40 MPH down La Cienega, when, in your rearview mirror you see a BMW speeding towards the back of your car.  It comes dangerously close to you and hovers there, inches off your bumper, swerving back and forth as if water skiing off your trunk.  This goes on for several minutes.  As Swedish House Mafia blares from the BMW, the driver starts flashing its lights and honking, getting ever closer and closer to you.  How do you feel?  For many Angelenos, the answer would be “rage.”  In fact, according to this Channel 11 news segment, Los Angeles ranks No. 1 in the country in Road Rage incidents.

Two-thirds of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving, and Fridays are when hothead drivers are at their aggressive, impatient worst.  This dramatic ABC news video on the growing epidemic shows a couple in Oklahoma forced off the highway by an aggressive river – shedding more light on America’s road rage epidemic.  It also shows a literal street fight broken up only when one driver’s wife flashes a gun:

Extreme Road Rage

ABC WORLD NEWS TONIGHT: CAUGHT IN THE ACT.  Dramatic new video shows a couple in Oklahoma forced off the highway by an aggressive river – shedding more light on America’s road rage epidemic

“This beatdown of a driver near Tampa only ended when the driver’s wife pulled out a pistol.  Authorities tonight are urging angry drivers to take a deep breath because more than two-thirds of all traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving.”

Road Rage Statistics – Staggering

Britney Spears road rage

Ponder for a moment these road rage statistics, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving.
  • 37% of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm.
  • Males under the age of 19 are the most likely to exhibit road rage.
  • Half of drivers who are on the receiving end of an aggressive behavior, such as horn honking, a rude gesture, or tailgating admit to responding with aggressive behavior themselves.
  • Over a seven year period, 218 murders and 12,610 injuries were attributed to road rage

How to Prevent Road Rage

First and foremost, be a courteous driver.  Try not to be the cause of someone else’s road rage.  That means:

  1. Do not talk or text on your phone. I admit it – I get angry when someone in front of me is driving at 10 MPH and weaving in and out of their lane, just to find out as I pass them that that are looking down at their smartphone as they drive.
  2. Don’t cut into line when you see cars backed up in a slower merge lane. Don’t be that guy who tries to bypass all the waiting cars and cut into that lane at the last possible moment to avoid the long wait.
  3. Don’t cut people off when switching lanes, and make sure to use your blinkers.
  4. Don’t tailgate! It’s a rear-end car accident waiting to happen, and trust me, there are people out there who will slam on their brakes and force you into rear-ending them.  Then you will end up with a car accident injury claim against you.  It’s simply never worth it to tailgate.
  5. Also, it’s good policy to let faster-moving cars to pass you – even if they are speeding and you’re going the speed limit – it’s courteous as well as safer for you and everyone else to simply yield, move right, and let faster-moving cars pass.
  6. Finally, understand that no matter how late you are, the consequences of being late are very likely less dire than the consequences of being involved in an accident or becoming the victim of someone else’s road rage.

How to Handle Road Rage

Jennifer Aniston road rage
Jennifer Aniston photographed driving her Bentley and getting angry in traffic in Beverly Hills, California.

Remember, while you can’t control someone else’s actions, you are in full control of yours.  If you find that you have drawn the ire of another driver, whether the fault is truly yours or not, do not react or retaliate to the other driver on the road. There is no way to meaningfully convince this other driver that they are in the wrong.  Any attempts by you to justify your actions will only cause the situation to escalate. Remind yourself that the other driver is just bad at handling stress, avoid eye contact and continue to practice safe driving habits.

When another driver cuts you off, gives you the finger or tailgates you, how you react will determine what happens next. Of course you are not happy about what’s going on, but follow this one rule:  save it for later.  Figure out who you can call or talk to later on to vent your frustration about the situation.  In the meantime, fight the urge to shoot a dirty look, roll down your window, flip the bird, or get out of your car to “discuss” matters.  Just drive on, or even better, drive away.

Happy Friday everyone and remember, don’t worry, be happy!

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