What to do if you're the victim of road rage

Stay calm. Road rage — defined as violent or uncontrolled anger in response to driving-related behavior — is a real risk that is a factor in many fatal car crashes. Even if you keep your calm, you'll probably encounter angry or aggressive drivers on the road — and it's important to handle the situation without making it worse or exposing yourself to danger.

3 min to read

How to deal with road rage drivers: Start with yourself

The first step to avoiding becoming the victim of road rage is to make sure you're driving safely, calmly, and not provoking anyone else. Examples of aggressive driving include yelling at other drivers, weaving through traffic, and tailgating. In extreme cases, it can escalate into intentionally ramming other cars or even a physical confrontation. Road rage is often a cycle — one driver provokes another who responds aggressively until things escalate beyond reason. Even if another driver is doing something dangerous or inappropriate, do your best to calm your anger on the road and avoid aggressive behaviors and rude gestures. Learn more about dealing with tailgating and how to avoid road rage.

Remember that the other driver's anger isn't about you. Road rage is often related to underlying emotional regulation issues, so try not to give other drivers an "excuse" to lose control. Don't block lanes, don't cut off other drivers, and make sure you're going at an appropriate speed. Learn how road rage can affect insurance.

How to deal with aggressive drivers: Immediate steps

Due to how common road rage and aggressive driving are, you're bound to encounter an angry driver sooner or later. When you do, take the following actions to avoid or minimize conflict.

Let the other driver pass

Road rage drivers are usually in a hurry, so get out of their way without engaging. Once they pass, you can go back to driving normally. After they move on, consider pulling over for a moment to calm down before you continue driving — residual anxiety can impede your driving even if the road rage incident is over.

Don't make eye contact

If the angry driver won't pass you but instead stays nearby, avoid eye contact. Angry drivers may want to intimidate you or could be seeking out conflict. Ignoring them and focusing on the road can encourage them to move on.

Contact authorities

If the driver insists on harassing you, contact the police to report the dangerous behavior if it's safe to do so. Be prepared to provide any identifying information, including a description of the offending vehicle, its license plate number, as well as your location and direction of travel.

Don't go home or find a safe place to stop

If the offending driver follows you or engages in more aggressive behavior like invading your space, ramming you, or continued verbal harassment, don't go to your home, work, or other places you frequent. Instead, drive to a busy public site with witnesses or, better yet, a police station. Keep the windows up and the car doors locked.

What to do if someone gets out of their car

If the other driver is especially persistent, they may follow you to the public place you've stopped at. If they get out of their car and approach you, don't engage directly. Honk your horn repeatedly or activate the car alarm to get attention from witnesses. If you're able, note the driver's appearance, their car, and their license plate number so you can report them once the incident is over. If you've pulled in at a police station and the driver approaches you, call the station to report a crime in progress in the station parking lot.

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