Road rage is a state of extreme frustration or anger that arises due to a perceived altercation while driving.  In many cases, this mental state can be dangerous for both the aggressive driver and everyone else on the road around them.  Some aggressive behaviors are more common than others, such as rude gestures or tailgating.  However, some drivers may take things way too far and attempt to pursue another motorist that they feel has wronged them.  Being chased by an angry driver can be terrifying, and we wanted to help people avoid this dangerous situation and stay safe on the road.

Recognizing & Assessing the Threat of Dangerous Drivers

The first step to ensuring your safety is being able to recognize that another driver is attempting to pursue you.  Stay alert for drivers who are tailgating you, making multiple lane changes to stay behind your car, honking or making obscene gestures or flashing their vehicle’s lights in a threatening manner.  By maintaining situational awareness, you can detect these early warning signs of an aggressive motorist.  Should you suspect that a driver is following you, try to stay calm. Do not respond to the other driver verbally, with gestures, by making eye contact or by speeding up.  Instead, focus on de-escalating the situation and planning a safe exit strategy.

Immediate Actions to Ensure Your Safety

Your primary objective when dealing with road rage is to ensure the safety of everyone in your vehicle.  To begin with, do your best to maintain a safe distance between your vehicle and the aggressive driver’s car.  When you can do so safely, slowly increase the distance between the two vehicles without making any sudden stops or jerky movements.  Sudden maneuvers may anger the other driver and put you in a dangerous situation.  You should not attempt to talk to the other driver and reason with them.

To best protect everyone in your vehicle, you should always practice the principles of defensive driving.  Continuously check your mirrors to monitor the pursuing driver’s movements.  If you see that they are continuing to behave erratically or tailgate your car, you may consider changing lanes when it is safe to do so.  Stay aware of your surroundings and do not do anything that risks a significant collision with another vehicle.

Escaping and Seeking Help

Your goal when dealing with a dangerous driver should be to reach a safe place where you can get help.  Keep an eye on the road and look for the next freeway exit.  If you can safely get off the freeway, do so as soon as possible.  You should not attempt to speed up in an attempt to escape the pursuing vehicle, as they may match your speed and put everyone on the road in danger.

As soon as you’ve managed to get off the freeway safely, drive to a populated and well-lit area.  If you can find a police or highway patrol station, this is the perfect place to go, since your pursuer will likely back off once they realize they will be faced with law enforcement.  You can also stop at a fire station or even a brightly-lit parking lot with lots of stores around.  As long as you are in a public place with lots of people around, you will likely be safer than if you are alone on the road being pursued by another driver.  When you are at a safe location, call 911 immediately and describe the situation.  Provide law enforcement with as many details about the other driver’s car as you can, such as the make, model, and license plate number.

Preventing Road Rage Incidents From Developing

Some drivers may just be stressed, angry, or aggressive by nature.  As such, it can be difficult to avoid triggering some drivers, even if you do nothing to upset them.  However, developing safe driving habits can help prevent triggering aggressive behavior in some drivers.

Some tactics you can use to reduce the risk of confrontations include:

  • Avoiding driving slowly in the passing lane or making sudden lane changes
  • Being courteous and signaling lane changes correctly
  • Limiting tailgating, speeding, and other forms of dangerous driving
  • Using modern technologies to plan routes and reduce aggressive driving habits

Staying Safe on the Freeway

Being pursued by an aggressive driver can be a terrifying experience, particularly when you did nothing wrong to provoke such a response.  Although some drivers are simply erratic, you can reduce your risk by remaining calm, using defensive driving techniques, and prioritizing your safety.  By staying aware of safe driving tactics and keeping an eye on your surroundings, you can increase your chances of encountering aggressive drivers.  If you want to read up more on techniques for handling road rage, consider checking out the resources provided by your local Department of Motor Vehicles.