Tips for Avoiding Road Rage When Driving in Pennsylvania

May 29, 2020

A mother driving with her two young sons in the car accidentally cuts off a driver. When she pulls into a mall parking lot, he pins her in, exits his car, screams at her, and then punches her in the face when she rolls down the window to apologize to him.

Another Pennsylvania driver becomes so enraged with a teen who tried to merge into his lane that he shoots and kills her and gets sentenced to 20+ years for his crime.

These are not hypothetical stories. They’re real road rage incidents that took place in Pennsylvania.

What is road rage?

Road rage is defined as “violent anger caused by the stress and frustration involved in driving a motor vehicle in difficult conditions.”

Road ragers make rude gestures at other drivers, sling insults, drive unsafely on purpose, make threats, and inflict physical harm upon other drivers in a confrontation.

What causes road rage?

Some believe that congested traffic, long commutes, stress, and aggressive drivers contribute to road rage. In fact, road rage is closely related to aggressive driving. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, road rage is often the result of aggressive driving behavior that escalates into an assault with a vehicle or other dangerous weapon.

Are you an aggressive driver?

Although road rage and aggressive driving are among the biggest causes of fatal car accidents in Pennsylvania, a lot of drivers don’t even realize that they’re aggressive drivers.

You might be an aggressive driver if you regularly engage in one or more of the following driving behaviors:

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating slower vehicles
  • Racing to beat red lights or
  • Running stop signs
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Passing illegally on the right
  • Failing to yield the right of way to oncoming vehicles
  • Yelling at other drivers
  • Angry horn honking

If you find yourself identifying with one or more of the signs above, you’re in good company. In a survey taken by the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA Foundation), 78% of the U.S. drivers reported having engaged in aggressive driving behavior at least once in the past year. The aggressive behavior they admitted to included:

  • Purposefully tailgating another vehicle (50.8%)
  • Yelling at another driver (46.6%)
  • Honking their horn in anger (44.5%)
  • Making an angry gesture at another driver (33%)
  • Purposely trying to block another driver from changing lanes (24%)
  • Cutting off another vehicle on purpose (11.9%)

Some of the survey respondents even admitted to engaging in behavior that ventured beyond the scope of aggressive driving into road rage territory such as exiting their vehicle to confront another driver (3.7%) and ramming another vehicle on purpose (2.8%).

How to avoid becoming a victim of road rage

One AAA Foundation study found that aggressive driving behaviors such as tailgating, erratic lane changing, or illegal passing – are a factor in 56% of fatal car crashes in the U.S and often cause road rage. Another AAA Foundation study looked at 10,000 road rage incidents and found them responsible for at least 218 murders and another 12,610 personal injury cases. When asked why they became violent, the drivers who became enraged cited the victim’s aggressive driving behavior.

These findings suggest that one of the easiest ways to avoid becoming the victim of road rage is to not engage in aggressive driving behavior. That means, signaling when changing lanes and using your horn sparingly, not driving too closely to other drivers, not competing on the road, not taking other drivers’ actions personally, not speeding, and not getting into altercations with other drivers.

If another driver engages in aggressive driving behavior and cuts you off, don’t attempt to get even. Don’t cut them off, make rude gestures, or yell at them. Don’t roll down your window or get out of your car. In fact, don’t speak or react to them in any way as that may serve to escalate the incident.

If a road rager follows you, try separating yourself from them by moving over to the slow lane and slowing down. If they continue to follow you, call 911 and drive to the nearest police station.

How to Keep From Experiencing Road Rage

The first step to avoid succumbing to road rage is to watch out for the signs. Do you find yourself getting unreasonably angry with tailgaters, slow drivers, pedestrians and cyclists?  Do you think of committing violence against drivers who annoy you? Do you feel as if other drivers are insulting you?  If so, you might want to take measures to change your reaction to those things.

There are some things you can do to keep from becoming a road rager. For example, road ragers are usually dealing with some sort of emotional crises in their lives. If you’re experiencing an emotional crisis such as a breakup, a divorce, or a job loss, be extra careful not to let those feelings escalate into road rage when you get behind the wheel.

If you just got into a heated argument with your significant other and you feel like breaking something, it might not be the best time for you to hop into your car and go for a drive. Try taking a walk instead.

Find Ways to Reduce Your Stress

Another thing you can do to avoid experiencing road rage is to find ways to reduce your own stress. Make sure to get enough sleep. One Center for Disease Control study shows that 1 in 3 Americans don’t get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause a lack of control and irritability.

Try changing your mindset. Expect other drivers to make mistakes and be human. That may help you not get enraged when they do. Also, try playing music or an audiobook when you’re stuck in traffic. It may help you remain calm.

Let a Allentown Car Accident Lawyer Help You Today

If you were injured in a car accident that’s attributable to road rage, consult an experienced Allentown car accident lawyer who has handled these types of cases and knows how to help clients obtain the best recovery possible. Contact Drake Hileman & Davis today to schedule a free consultation.