You are driving along on your morning commute and realize that your exit is coming up. You quickly switch from the middle lane to the outermost exit lane, forgetting to hit your signal first. The blare of a horn startles you, and you realize that you may have accidentally cut in front of another exiting motorist.
There was no accident -- it wasn't even close. Yet the driver is now flipping you off and riding your bumper. You glimpse pure rage on the face of the man behind the wheel and start to worry about escalating road rage. What can you do?
Aggressive driving or actual road rage?
Some motorists drive as if they are training for the Indy 500, all short stops and impromptu lane changes. This is not road rage -- just really bad and aggressive driving that could cause the driver to get ticketed. Road rage is a whole other problem that typically arises from one driver's mistake or near-miss on the highway.
Of course it's annoying when another motorist pulls a reckless move that could potentially lead to a serious accident. But the fact is that people make mistakes. That's all that they are, and if they don't cause a collision, it's best to just shrug it off.
Examples of road rage
However, some drivers don't seem able to do that. They instead exacerbate the original driver's mistake by doing things like:
- Blaring the horn
- Flashing the headlights or trying to blind the driver with their brights
- Making obscene gestures or cursing
Sometimes, road rage is a flashpoint of misdirected anger because the driver is actually upset or angry with another person or situation in their life. Perhaps they got pink-slipped at work or had a fight with their spouse before leaving home. Either way, the incident on the highway with another driver causes them to explode with anger.
Handling road rage
If you were the catalyst of another driver's road rage, de-escalation should be your goal. Mouthing "I'm sorry" or giving the palms-up, shoulder-shrugging universal gesture of "Ooops!" could potentially mollify an angry driver.
But sometimes, nothing that you do seems to work and the driver continues to act aggressively from behind the wheel. You worry that an accident will result from their aggression. Whatever you do, don't feed into their anger. Continue to drive safely and do not meet their eyes. If you feel threatened, you may need to call 911 and report the driver.
If another driver's road rage causes a collision that injures you, you can seek civil justice through the Ohio court system.