How to Deal With Road Rage Safely
Learn how to deal with road rage and aggressive drivers. Get safe driving tips on how to deal with tailgating, honking, and more.
Circuit Route Planner is the solution to your traffic woes, helping you plan faster routes for your deliveries, so you can spend less time on the road (away from angry drivers).
We’ve all been there.
You’re driving along, minding your own business, when some crazy driver cuts you off or nearly runs into your car.
Suddenly, you find yourself filled with rage, honking your horn and yelling obscenities.
While it may feel good to let off a little steam, road rage is actually a serious problem that can lead to accidents, injuries, and stress.
As a delivery driver, you’re probably no stranger to road rage. But some of these statistics may still surprise you.
Did you know that 82% of drivers in the US admit to having had road rage or driving aggressively at least once in the past year?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) describes aggressive driving as “a combination of moving traffic offenses to endanger other persons or property.”
Simply put, aggressive driving is risky behavior with no regard for the safety of others.
When you make your livelihood on those roads, it’s important to know how to deal with road rage safely.
Road rage can cost you time, slowing your deliveries down and stressing you out.
It could even lead to taking a stress leave from work.
I’ll walk you through some tips on how to deal with road rage and protect yourself from other drivers who are feeling hot-headed.
How to deal with road rage: Start with yourself
If you’re feeling stressed or angry while driving, it’s important to take a step back and check your own attitude.
As a great poet once said, “You better check yourself before you wreck yourself.”
Before you can expect to diffuse a road rage situation, you need to be in the right frame of mind yourself.
Here are some things you can do to stay calm behind the wheel and possibly avoid a dangerous situation.
1. Leave on time
If you’re rushing to make a delivery, you’re more likely to get angry if someone cuts you off or is driving slowly in front of you.
Let’s face it, when you’re late, it doesn’t exactly put you in a good mood.
You might find yourself honking at people to get out of the way, extra irritable during heavy traffic, or more likely to make hand gestures that would make your grandma blush.
If your lateness leads to aggressive driving, you could cause a car crash or road rage incident yourself.
You might also find yourself less inclined to follow the speed limit or notice that red light.
Research backs this up by showing that high-anger drivers are more likely to go 10 to 20 miles per hour (mph) over the speed limit, rapidly switch lanes, tailgate, and enter an intersection when the light turns red.
You can plan to leave early, so you don’t have to stress about being late.
Or stop battling the clock and let Circuit Route Planner start saving you time on your delivery route. Optimized routes help you be more efficient, so you can save an hour every day.
2. Make your car comfortable
Have you ever been hot? I mean, really, really hot.
So hot, you’re just plain angry because it’s so damn hot.
This is not just in your head.
Research shows that people experience more frustration and anger in the summer.
Hot temps increase your heart rate and lead to discomfort.
And discomfort can affect how you express yourself and how you interpret other people’s actions.
Meaning, an obscene gesture you’d have laughed off normally can now set you off.
Making your car comfortable can help you be less irritable while driving.
Some things you can do to make your car more comfortable include:
- Using the air conditioning or car heater
- Cleaning your car
- Bringing a good drink
- Listening to calming music
Combat traffic jams with your favorite jams.
These things can help you relax and stay calm while driving, which can help you avoid road rage incidents.
3. Act like there’s another person in the car with you
When someone is watching you, you act differently.
If you’re angry or stressed, it can be helpful to think about how your actions would affect the other person in the vehicle.
For example, if you’re honking your horn or making an obscene gesture, how would that make the other person feel?
(What Would Grandma Think?)
Even if your company is imaginary, this method can help you keep your emotions in check and avoid becoming a full-blown road rager.
4. Pull over
If you’re feeling angry or stressed while driving, it’s important to take a break.
If you can, pull over to a safe place and take a few deep breaths.
Try a deep breathing technique.
This can help you calm down and avoid doing something you might regret, like causing an accident, damaging your vehicle, or embarrassing yourself on social media.
If you’re in heavy traffic and can’t pull over, try to find a less busy road to take a break on.
You can also try to find a parking lot and take a walk.
Getting out of the car and moving around can help you calm down and clear your head.
5. Think about what you might lose due to road rage
Road rage can lead to a lot of consequences, such as ending up in jail, losing your family, losing your job, and even losing your own life.
Many states have laws against road rage and aggressive driving.
And if you get pulled over for road rage, you could end up with a criminal record.
(If you’re curious about getting hired as a delivery driver with a record, check out our guide.)
For example, a man was charged with hate crimes for a road rage shooting incident in Madison, Wisconsin.
If you don’t fancy a trip to the police station or courtroom, you might want to think twice before losing your temper.
Road rage can also lead to losing your job.
Many employers have policies against aggressive driving. Check out a sample aggressive driving policy.
If you’re caught road raging, you could be fired from your job.
Like this one driver whose road rage toward other motorists led to the end of his job when he decided to engage with a driver on a motorcycle.
Don’t overlook the fact that road rage can make you lose your life.
If you’re angry and stressed while driving, you’re more likely to make mistakes that could lead to a serious accident.
The LA Police Department found road rage incidents are happening more often, and many end in accidents.
So, the next time you’re feeling angry or stressed while driving, think about what you might lose if you let road rage take over.
How to protect yourself from other people’s road rage
On top of taking steps to keep your own emotions in check, it’s important to be aware of the signs of road rage in other drivers and take steps to protect yourself.
It’s easy to let another driver’s anger influence you and amp you up.
And it can be hard to stick to best practices for safe driving when some tool is brake checking you or tailgating you while you’re trying to work.
Remembering these driving tips can help you avoid problematic road rage drivers.
1. Don’t act on your rage
It’s not just about yelling and honking or tailgating anymore. People have been known to get out of their cars and fight, or even worse, pull out a gun.
This could be a matter of life or death.
When an aggressive driver is “road raging” at you, the best thing you can do is stay calm.
You might be doing everything right: keeping a safe distance, signaling before changing lanes, and defensive driving.
But some idiot on their cellphone decided to take an up-close look at your license plate and flip you off in the process.
If you’re feeling angry or stressed, it’s best to try and calm yourself down before doing anything.
You don’t want to be the next tragic news headline.
It doesn’t matter what the other driver did or how they behaved.
You don’t need to prove anything to them. Just let it go and move on with your day.
They’re just angry and venting their frustration in the wrong way.
The main priority is that you get home safely.
Keep calm and carry on.
2. Drive defensively
Defensive driving is all about being aware of your surroundings and anticipating the actions of other drivers.
It means staying calm in stressful situations and keeping your cool even when someone else is losing theirs.
When you’re driving defensively, you’re constantly aware of your surroundings and the actions of other drivers.
By following a few simple defensive driving tips, you can help protect yourself from road rage drivers.
- Stay aware of your surroundings.
- Anticipate the actions of other drivers.
- Be prepared for anything.
- Use your mirrors to keep an eye on traffic around you.
- Avoid eye contact with angry drivers.
- Keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you.
- Refuse to engage with other drivers who are acting aggressively.
You can check out more driving tips from the AAA Foundation.
3. Don’t tailgate or cut other drivers off
Tailgating and cutting other drivers off are two of the biggest causes of road rage.
When you tailgate, you’re putting yourself and the other driver in danger.
If they have to brake suddenly, you could rear-end them.
And if they get angry, they could retaliate by tailgating you, brake-checking you, or even worse.
Brake checking is when a driver deliberately brakes in front of another car that’s tailgating them.
It’s extremely dangerous and can lead to a serious accident.
Cutting other drivers off is also a surefire way to get their blood boiling.
A simple, honest mistake could trigger a full-blown road rage attack.
Ultimately, you want to avoid distracted driving, cellphone use, and anything else that could cause you to make a mistake.
You want to increase your safety bubble.
This is called the “two-second rule.” It basically means giving yourself two seconds to decelerate from 60 mph to 40 mph. Gradually slowing down your vehicle reduces the amount of fuel you use and reduces fuel costs.
To do this right, leave a big space between you and the next car so you have time to anticipate changes on the road and gradually decelerate instead of slamming on your brakes — risking an accident and wasting fuel.
4. Avoid making eye contact with other drivers
Making eye contact with an angry driver is like waving a red flag in front of a bull.
Eye contact is often seen as a sign of mutual aggression.
It’s a challenge, and they’re likely to take it.
It’s best to avoid making eye contact with other drivers altogether.
If you do happen to make eye contact, don’t hold their gaze. Look away quickly, and don’t engage.
5. Focus on where you’re going
When you’re driving, it’s important to stay focused on the task at hand.
Don’t let anything distract you.
No text message, phone call, or song is worth your life — especially not Facetiming, as this UK driver shows.
As a delivery driver, you might be tempted to multitask while you’re on the road.
But resist the urge.
The best thing you can do is stay focused on where you’re going and what you’re doing.
It’s your job and responsibility.
And it’s your life.
What to do if you are a victim of road rage
If you find yourself the victim of road rage, there are a few things you can do to stay safe:
- Stay calm.
- Call the cops.
- Remember crucial information about the other driver, like a license plate number and description.
- File a police report.
- Take pictures if you can.
- Don’t get out of the car.
- Don’t go directly home. They may follow you.
- Drive to a safe, public place.
- If you’re being followed, drive to a police station, fire station, or hospital.
Take the stress out of planning your routes with Circuit Route Planner
If you’re a delivery driver, chances are good that you’ve experienced road rage at some point.
It’s an unfortunate reality of the job.
But there’s no need to let it ruin your day.
By following the tips in this article, you can help protect yourself from road rage drivers and stay safe on the road.
Looking for another way to stay calm while on the road?
Meet Circuit Route Planner.
With Circuit, you can plan and optimize your routes to make sure that you’re making the most efficient use of your time.
Say goodbye to route planning stress and the feeling of running behind.
Finish your workday an hour early, get proof of delivery, automatic updates to customers, and more.
Circuit works with your favorite GPS like Google Maps to give you turn-by-turn directions and traffic updates.
Keep your eyes on the road by using the hands-free voice feature to quickly add new delivery stops and re-optimize your route at any time, so you’re always on the fast track.
It’s route optimization magic.
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