Stay calm and drive on: Don’t let road rage ruin holidays

Staff Reports • Updated Dec 23, 2017 at 8:00 PM

The holidays bring joy and cheer, but can also lead to increased stress and aggression behind the wheel. 

According to a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year. About 8 million U.S. drivers engaged in more extreme examples of road rage, including purposefully ramming another vehicle or getting out of the car to confront another driver. 

As a record 97.4 million drivers prepare to hit the road for the holidays, AAA warned drivers to avoid aggression when behind the wheel this holiday season. 

“The holidays can be stressful as drivers head to busy shopping centers for that perfect gift or battle congested freeways while traveling,” said Stephanie Milani, Tennessee public affairs director for AAA. “Minor frustrations have the potential to turn deadly if drivers act out their anger on the road. Travelers should be sure to pack their patience and remember to be respectful when behind the wheel this holiday season.”

Nearly three-out-of-four drivers believe aggressive driving is a bigger problem currently than three years ago, while nine-out-of-10 drivers believe aggressive drivers are a serious threat to their personal safety.

The road to aggressive driving and road rage prevention begins inside the car. One of the best ways to prevent these encounters on the roadway is to avoid engaging in aggressive maneuvers and trying not to give other drivers cause to become aggressive. 

Some tips to help prevent road rage this holiday season include:

• Do not offend: Never cause another driver to change their speed or direction. That means not forcing another driver to use their brakes or turn the steering wheel in response to something.

• Be tolerant and forgiving: The other driver may just be having a really bad day. Assume that it is not personal.

• Do not respond: Avoid eye contact, don’t make gestures, maintain space around the vehicle and contact 911 if needed.

Anyone confronted by a driver displaying aggressive or dangerous behavior should follow these guidelines:

• Establish more space between the aggressive driver: This will immediately help reduce the chance of a collision between you and the driver.

• Get information about the vehicle: If it is safe to do so, get any information about the vehicle, such as type, make and model, color and license plate number. Do not put anyone at risk when attempting to collect such information.

• If necessary, call 911: If the situation escalates, safely come to a stop and call 911. The best thing to do to help is safely provide the dispatcher with information. Law enforcement is well equipped to handle the situation.

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