How to Avoid Provoking Road Rage: Negating Bad Driving BehaviorsUpdated Oct. 25, 2020
As part of your road safety training, you must learn how to avoid becoming the target of another driver’s road rage. Many roadway environments can be extremely frustrating, particularly those populated by a high volume of traffic. Every day, you will be sharing the road with stressed out and frustrated drivers, many of which are capable of succumbing to road rage if things don’t go their way. One careless mistake on your part could see you falling victim to another motorist’s anger.
Aggressive drivers are usually impatient and very critical of other road users. Your mistake may be minor and innocently made, but it is unlikely that an aggressive driver will consider that viewpoint before attempting to pick a fight with you over the error. This module covers tactics you can use to avoid incurring the wrath of angry drivers.
Do not block traffic
The frustration which aggressive drivers experience is often linked to a feeling of being stuck or the threat of being late to an important engagement. One of the easiest ways to tip an angry driver over the edge is to further impede their progress by blocking traffic. While driving, do your best not to unnecessarily obstruct another driver’s path of travel. Here are some tips to help you:
Try to match the speed of the traffic moving around you. Do not drive slower than the vehicles behind you, unless a single vehicle is exceeding the speed limit or driving much faster than they should.
If you are driving at the speed limit or as fast as you feel is safe based on current conditions, yet traffic is building up behind you, pull over or merge into a slower lane to let them pass.
Never speed up, slow down or hit the brakes to stop another vehicle from entering your lane or passing you.
Do not pass another vehicle and then immediately slow down having merged back in front of them.
Do not cut in front of another driver to merge into their lane. Always signal your intention to merge and wait for an appropriately sized gap in traffic, even if you feel the other motorist should let you in.
Do not linger at a green light if you are at the front of a line of traffic waiting to move through an intersection. Providing the way ahead is clear, you should move quickly to allow as many vehicles through the intersection as possible.
Do not block traffic by stopping in the middle of a roadway to ask a pedestrian for directions, look at something by the roadside or try to figure out where you are.
Do not wait at a red light if you need to turn right, unless there are signs prohibiting right turns under a red light. Turning right through a red light is legal in most states and cities. Check your driving manual for details.
Driving in a way which allows traffic to keep moving smoothly should be your primary focus as a driver. Optimizing traffic flow minimizes conflict between vehicles and therefore increases safety. It also helps to keep the drivers around you happy. Never behave in a manner which blocks, holds up or restricts the flow of traffic on a roadway. You may not be in a hurry to get where you’re going but you are bound to be sharing the road with some motorists who are! If you must drive slower than other traffic, keep to the right-hand lane or the far, right side of the roadway.
Keep in mind that while facilitating traffic flow is important, you should not take any action which is illegal or dangerous, in order to let other vehicles pass.
Obey traffic control devices
Ignoring road signs, traffic lights and pavement markings is a guaranteed way to annoy other motorists. These devices communicate the rules on a certain stretch of road. Most motorists accept road rules as a fact of life and do not mind following them, providing that all their fellow road users do the same. If you behave as if the rules do not apply to you, it is likely you will see aggressive responses from the drivers around you. Your action does not necessarily have to create immediate danger to be met with anger from other motorists.
- Never run through a red light.
- Do not rush through a yellow light, even if it about to turn green.
- Do not roll through a stop sign.
- Always keep your vehicle within the boundaries of your lane.
- Do not pass or change lanes across a solid yellow line.
- Always park your vehicle in the center of a marked parking space.
- Do not execute a turn in an area where turning is clearly not permitted.
Keep in mind that bending the rules can aggravate other drivers almost as much as breaking them. This is one of the reasons you should always come to a complete stop at a stop sign, regardless of whether you think it is a safety necessity.
Road rules are there for your safety. Looking for regulatory road signs should be an aspect of your standard roadway search practice. If you do happen to miss an important sign and anger the drivers around you as a result, give them a wave to indicate your apology, if it is safe to do so.
Be an attentive driver
If you pay attention to the road and remain fully focused on the task of driving, you are far less likely to miss important details about the environment around your vehicle and make mistakes that will annoy other drivers. You should also be aware that motorists generally feel more comfortable and relaxed around attentive drivers. If you behave in a careless way, do not pay attention or are visibly distracted, the drivers around you will feel anxious and will be forced to be overly cautious in case you make a mistake. Try not to draw attention to yourself by engaging in risky or inattentive behavior.
To be considerate to other road users:
- Do not engage in distracting activities such as eating, drinking or operating your cell phone while driving.
- Keep within the boundaries of your lane and do not encroach on another driver’s operating space.
- Do not play music so loudly that people in other cars can hear it.
- Do not decorate your car with bumper stickers and window signs that others may find offensive.
- Lower your high-beam headlights when approaching another vehicle at night.
- Make it as easy as possible for other drivers to pass you.
- Be patient with other drivers and do not reprimand them if they make mistakes.
Do not reprimand other drivers
Reprimanding another driver by shouting, gesturing or sounding your horn when they make a mistake will upset them and could start an argument. Most people do not respond well to unsolicited criticism, particularly when it is delivered in a tactless way. If you witness another motorist making a mistake, remember that they are likely to be embarrassed or frustrated with their own error. Adding to their discomfort by visibly or audibly reprimanding them could lead to an aggressive encounter.
Avoid bad driving behavior
Nearly all motorists make a mistake or behave carelessly at some point in their driving lives. Unfortunately, most motorists conveniently forget this fact and can quickly become annoyed when they witness other drivers slipping up. If you make an easy-to-avoid mistake or engage in bad driving behavior which endangers another road user or forces them to act defensively, there is a strong chance they will respond with anger.
Think about the common mistakes you see other drivers making and do your best not to make the same mistakes yourself. These bad driving behaviors include:
Speeding. Other drivers may not notice you driving slightly over the speed limit but will likely be annoyed if you exceed the limit by 10mph or more.
Failing to yield-the-right of way. This often meets with an angry backlash, particularly if the driver who should have had right-of-way is forced to make a sudden stop to avoid you.
Failing to signal a maneuver. Without proper communication, merging, turning or changing lanes will take the motorists nearest to you by surprise and may force them to take evasive action.
Tailgating. This is dangerous and often read as a deliberate act of aggression or intimidation.
Weaving between lanes. You will become an immediate, high-priority hazard to all nearby drivers if you switch lanes too frequently or without signaling.
Double parking. You may anger passing traffic if your double-parked vehicle is sticking out into the road. Furthermore, you may return to a damaged or towed vehicle, if your double parking has blocked another vehicle into a spot.
Traveling in a lane designed for overtaking. On multi-lane roads, the center and left-hand lane are usually reserved for passing vehicles. If you wish to travel at a consistent speed in a single lane, stick to the lane farthest right.
These actions all have the potential to endanger other road users. Remember that it is human nature to respond with aggression when one’s physical safety is under threat. There are times when retaliation is the best form of defense! Of course, this is NEVER true while driving but a startled and angry motorist may not pause to consider that fact.
Always exercise good judgment while driving and be aware of how your actions may affect others. If you follow the number-one rule and treat other road users how you would like to be treated yourself, avoiding altercations while driving should be easy.
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