Road rage

In the past few years, road rage incidents have risen sharply. Scientists and behavioral specialists have been studying the root causes for more than 20 years with no clear-cut explanation. Whatever the root cause is, person A’s reactions to something person B does can either escalate or defuse the situation. Regardless of what incident just set person A off, if person B retaliates, chances are very high that it will spiral out of control quickly, possibly ending up in a homicide. There is a documented case where an argument over a driver choosing one lane over another ended with one of the drivers shooting the other. Of course, once cooler heads prevailed, the shooter was filled with remorse and guilt, but one driver was dead, and the other was incarcerated for life in prison. All because a driver thought he had been delayed for 2 seconds on his way to work. Seems like a petty thing to ruin 2 lives forever, but it does happen.

If you find yourself getting upset or angry at something another driver does, take a deep breath and count to 10. This will allow you to calm down and probably realize that in the grand scheme of things, what the other driver did to annoy you isn’t worth getting bent out of shape over.

If you are the offending driver, either actual or perceived, and the other driver flips you the bird or displays some other aggressive action, do not, under any circumstances, react in kind. Your best bet to defuse the situation is to avoid direct eye contact, and apologize, even if you’ve done nothing wrong. If you react to their aggression with bluster or aggression of your own, all you’re doing is escalating a dangerous situation that will never end well and could very easily change both lives, as well as potentially affect the lives of innocent bystanders.

If the road rage incident occurred while you’re driving, be very careful, as the person might try to brake check you, causing you to run into them from behind, then claim injuries. If this is the case, as soon as they try to pass you, slow right down, reducing the chance of a rear-end collision if they brake-check you. If they pass, and slow to prevent you from passing, just relax, stay calm, and drive at the reduced speed in the right lane. Don’t egg them on by repeatedly trying to pass. If they display a weapon as they pass you, call 911 immediately, giving the operator the exact location, direction of travel, color, make and model of the vehicle as well as the license plate number, if you can see it. Once they pass the next exit, take the exit, cross the road, and re-enter the highway. This will let get a few miles ahead of you and likely cool down. When back on the highway, run about 5 mph (8 km/h) slower than you were to give them a better lead on you.

In short, if it hasn’t yet, road rage will eventually be directed at you. How you respond will determine the eventual outcome.

Don Taylor has been a professional driver since March 1985.  In 1994 he made the jump to driving tractor trailers, and has accumulated over 3.5 million miles, including over 4 years of driving turnpike doubles in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.  He is currently hauling flat decks across North America.