Aggressive drivers – drivers who tailgate, cut others off, run red lights, honk their horns, yell or make obscene gestures – are a danger to themselves and others. If you are an aggressive driver, or the victim of one, your safety and that of your passengers and other people on the road is seriously compromised.

Stress from such life situations as problems at work, the loss of a job, a divorce, or the death of a loved one can trigger road rage, even in a person who normally practices safe driving habits.

“Aggressive driving can affect anyone. Even drivers who are usually calm can get angry or frustrated and act out those feelings in dangerous ways,” says Shane Jensen with Sentinel Assurance Group, Inc.. “In addition, poor traffic conditions such as crowded roads and traffic jams can be the ‘last straw’ for a driver who is already stressed or upset.”

To protect yourself and others from the hazards of aggressive driving, the state Department of Transportation and Encompass Insurance Company offer the following tips:

  • Don’t drive when angry – Take time to cool off: take a walk, learn relaxation techniques, talk to someone, or if you’re already driving, pull over and wait until you feel calm to get back on the road.
  • Take a positive attitude toward driving – Take pride in driving safely and always think about how your driving might affect others.
  • Reduce the stress of driving – Listen to soothing music, allow plenty of time to reach your destination, avoid traffic jams or choose less busy roads if possible, and listen to traffic and weather reports to learn of delays or hazards.
  • Give other drivers a break – If a driver goes too slowly, hesitates at an intersection or does something else to annoy you, don’t lose your temper.

The driver may have good reason for his or her behavior.

When another driver is being aggressive, keep your cool:

  • Move to another lane when you can do so safely and let the other driver pass – Your first priority is to create a save environment for yourself.
  • Avoid eye contact – The driver may take your look as a challenge and become even more aggressive.
  • Go to a safe place if you are followed – Drive to the nearest police station, gas station or other place where there are people. If you have a car phone, call the police and give details including the aggressive driver’s license plate number.

Do you have an experience with road rage, share it with us.