Road rage - dealing with it

Say you’re in a shop, checking out the stuff on a shelf and you take a step backwards, knocking into someone who’s doing the same thing as you.

Would you a) smile, exchange apologies and turn away; or b) flick a v-sign, swear and shout? Unless you’re a total nutter, it’s probably a). So why do we behave so differently on the road?

What is it about being in a car, snug in our own little world, that changes the rules? People in a shop are just… other people. But people in cars are somehow The Enemy. 

If you know you’re at fault, mouth sorry at the other motorist. You’d say it in a shop, so why not in your car?

And things can escalate. Aside from the obvious risk of a road accident, there have been plenty of cases where minor road rage has led to heated, face-to-face confrontations, to violence, and even – on very rare occasions – to murder.

All over some trivial incident on the road. Wave your fist at a bad driver and you risk being followed, intimidated, or worse.

If you know you’re at fault, mouth sorry at the other motorist. You’d say it in a shop, so why not in your car? And next time someone pulls out in front of you, just back off and remember you’ve done it yourself a few times. Sure, there are some really irritating plonkers out there but hey, that’s life.

How to reduce the risk

As well as defusing road rage, there are other ways to reduce the risk of being a victim of violence: 

  • Routine car maintenance and regular car safety checks will help prevent you breaking down by the side of the road and having another car pull up next to you.

  • Never return alone to a deserted car park at night.

  • When you stop behind a car at, say, traffic lights at night, always make sure there’s enough room between you and the car in front to allow you to pull out, if necessary. Also keep your windows up and doors locked.

  • Join a self-defence class. Some will even focus on the motorist, and show you how to use  everyday items (such as a car de-icer spray) for personal self-protection and to ensure a rapid escape from a would-be attacker.

What makes us maddest?

The AA did a poll of nearly 15,000 members, asking what type of driver they most dislike. The top three were boy racers, drivers who don’t thank you when you let them out, and drivers who show off. Other things that irritated included drivers with signs in their cars saying ‘baby on board’ – and vain drivers always looking in the mirror.

On the subject of drivers who don’t say thank you, the AA said: “Lorry drivers tend to flash their hazard lights and others raise their hand to acknowledge the good manners of other drivers. It doesn’t take much to let someone into the queue of traffic, or to acknowledge them.”