- Fact. 9% of serious or fatal crashes result from distracted driving.
- Fact. Speeding causes 18% of deaths of road fatalities.
- Fact. Failing to obey signs and traffic lights leads to 9% of traffic fatalities.
- Fact. 8% of road fatalities are the result of failing to yield right-of-way.
Road fatality statistics like these remind us that vehicles – from standard four passenger cars to 40 ton 18 wheelers – can be lethal weapons. This is especially true when there aren’t level-headed, responsible drivers behind the wheel.
Every driver has their own personality. Some drivers are cautious while others are aggressive. Our personalities mixed with different conditions and circumstances lead to a rainbow of emotional reactions behind the wheel. Each of those reactions influence the actions we take. A person with pent up frustration or difficulty dealing with anger who is typically a sensible driver can have a bad day and transform into a menace on the road.
When drivers are angry or in an agitated emotional state, reason can fly out the window. Enraged and aggressive drivers make vulgar gestures, race past vehicles on the shoulder of the road, tailgate or flash their high-beams at other cars, speed tens of kilometers over the speed limit — the list goes on.
Unfortunately, almost everyone with a license has personally witnessed or experienced aggressive driving and road rage. Have you been aggressively cut off, honked or yelled at, tailgated or worse? If your answer is yes, then you know that sharing the road with an enraged driver can be more than agitating and offensive; it can be downright frightening, and rightfully so.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when sharing the road with an aggressive driver:
Don’t Take It Personally. When a driver cuts you off or makes an ignorant hand gesture, do your best not to take it personally. While this may be easier said than done, remind yourself that by losing self control and reacting aggressively, you effectively let the ignorant driver win. By keeping your cool rather than letting your emotions flare up, you’re able to make safe, sensible choices that protect yourself and others on the road.
Don’t Play Cop. When an enraged or aggressive driver is making reckless decisions that endanger the lives of others on the road, call the police. You are not a traffic enforcer. It’s not your job to teach the driver a lesson (and it certainly isn’t wise or safe to compete or retaliate).
Be Courteous. One of the ways to avoid being involved with an altercation with an aggressive motorist is to be a courteous driver. Allow others to merge into your lane, use your signals, check your blind spots, yield the right of way, and pay attention to your surroundings. Don’t tailgate or block the passing lane. If you have to use your horn to get someone’s attention, use it lightly. If you do make an error on the road, raise your hand to gesture an apology.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled. You can’t control the reckless driving behaviours of others, but you can drive defensively. A major component of defensive driving is maintaining an awareness of your surroundings at all times. Check your mirrors and scan the road for erratic or aggressive drivers. Keep your hands firmly planted on your wheel and give yourself plenty of space so that you can slow down or speed up to get away from a dangerous vehicle if necessary.
To turn the tables, if you personally identify as a driver who experiences road rage, you aren’t alone. Here are some action steps you can take to curb your frustration on the road:
Minimize Distractions. We tend to drive most erratically and without consideration for others when we’re distracted. Put down your cell phone, minimize eating while driving, and plan your route in advance. If you do need to use a cell phone, use a hands-free device. If you have to have a conversation that requires serious conversation or may agitate you, pull over or find a rest stop.
Gain Some Perspective. Too many motorists find themselves agitated by traffic slights and use their vehicles to threaten, intimidate or even injure other motorists. If you find yourself in this category, speak to a counsellor about your road rage. By learning the roots of your rage and developing strategies to cope when you become aggravated on the road, you’ll save yourself from serious traffic violations, personal injury and causing irreversible harm to others that will follow you the rest of your life.
Apart from difficulty managing anger, there are several common reasons drivers find themselves agitated. It’s important to do everything you can to ensure that you’re comfortable in your vehicle. If you get backaches, get the proper lumbar support when you’re driving long distances. Pack snacks and water to curb hunger and thirst when you expect bad traffic. If possible, try to avoid driving at peak traffic hours or take an alternative route. Open your windows to get fresh air to stay alert. If the radio irritates you, download a playlist of music you enjoy. If you feel like you’ve been stuck in the car for too long, pull over safely and do some light stretching. Do not drive if you’re not well rested. It’s up to us as drivers to ensure that we’re in the right state of mind to get behind the wheel.
At CHET – Commercial Heavy Equipment Training – in addition to behind the wheel driver’s training, we instruct trainees on the importance of road safety and defensive driving. Our curriculum includes strategies drivers can use to maintain their own safety and the safety of others they share the road with. If you’re interested in a career behind the wheel of a commercial motor vehicle, learn to drive safely and defensively with CHET. Contact a CHET representative today to learn more about our registered training program.
Are you a road rager? Take a minute to answer 10 questions to find out if you suffer from road rage! #KeepCool – A campaign by Ingenie to highlight the dangers of road rage.