Road rage is a threat to the safety of drivers throughout Georgia and all across the United States.
Road rage, sometimes called aggressive driving, occurs when someone exhibits angry or violent behavior while driving a motor vehicle. It's different from getting mad at the actions of another driver, shaking it off and moving on. Instead, a driver exhibiting road rage responds to that anger in ways that can result in car accidents, physical threats, assault or even death.
We never know what will anger the driver of another vehicle, or if they are the type who will act on that anger. Typically, however, some of the more common events that upset drivers are listed below.
When other drivers….
- Tailgate, or follow too closely
- Weave in and out of traffic
- Cut-off a driver while changing lanes
- Talk on the phone or text while driving
- Give hand gestures or make verbal comments
- Brake suddenly without just cause
- Flash headlights or honk the horn
Just last week, a Dalton, Georgia man, while riding his bicycle to work, “flipped-off” a motorist who passed by him dangerously close. The hand gesture enraged the driver so much that further down the road he stopped his vehicle, got out of his truck, and assaulted the cyclist. Luckily, the biker captured it all on video, and he wasn't hurt.
Tragically, victims of road rage aren't always so lucky, as was the case in Gainesville, GA when an irate driver passing another vehicle killed 20-year old Chelsea Gerrish in a head-on collision. At the time of the accident, the occupant of the vehicle he was passing was on the phone with 911 reporting the dangerous behavior of the driver. He appeared to be angry that the vehicle in front of him was driving too slowly. Her parents are now fighting to get legislation passed in Georgia that will create stiffer penalties for dangerous drivers.
Everyone gets angry with other drivers from time-to-time, just as we all will likely experience the wrath of an angry driver at some point. Usually, it's a brief anger that passes quickly. If, however, you find yourself involved in an incident of road rage, try to remain calm, call 9-1-1, and do the following:
- Don't make the situation worse. Do not make eye contact, yell, make a nasty face, flash your lights or honk your horn. No matter how angry the behavior of the other driver makes you, your safety depends on staying calm.
- Try to get away from the aggressive driver in a safe way. Maybe pull onto another street or slow down so that he/she can move on.
- It's best not to stop, but If you're forced to do so then pull in an area with other people around.
- Don't get out of your car and keep your windows rolled up.
- Again, Call 9-1-1
- If you have a smartphone and can safely use it, or have a passenger to do it, then video the incident and take pictures
Sometimes, the victim of road rage is the very person who sets the whole incident into motion. Maybe you were distracted and accidentally pulled out in front of a car, causing the driver to become emotionally charged. If this is the case, try to diffuse the situation as quickly as possible. Mouth an apology and grimace so that the other driver knows you meant no harm. Even if the other person screams an obscenity or gives you a rude hand gesture, apologize profusely. Don't escalate a potentially dangerous situation by responding with the same sort of anger.
Road rage and aggressive driving situations claim lives. Thousands of people have been injured or killed in road rage incidents over the past decade. Stay focused while driving and don't get distracted. Your life and the lives of those around you depend on it.