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Last Modified: December 30, 2022

How to Escape the Road Rage Trap

Published on July 15, 2013 • Last updated December 30, 2022 by Ken Christensen
Topics: Car Safety

angry driver

Road rage is often joked about, its effect underestimated. But ABC News reports that road rage has almost doubled in a five year period; and a recent study from the Department of Transportation attributes more than 1,000 deaths to road rage since 2007.

The following are some notable road rage related deaths that will put the dangers of road rage into perspective.

Case Studies

Houston, TX

According to ABC 13, a 20-year-old Houston man named Mark Trevino recently faced a judge in connection with the shooting death of a woman. Trevino allegedly got into an argument with another driver and then followed him home, where he opened fire on the car, killing the driver’s wife. Trevino insists that the driver pulled a gun on him first. Regardless, he will face a possible murder or manslaughter charge.

Birmingham, AL

Shirley Henson received 13 years for the road rage shooting death of a 34-year-old mother of three, Gena Foster, according to ABC News. Prosecuters stated that Henson tailgated Foster until Foster pulled to the side of the road. Henson stopped behind the vehicle, and when Foster approached Henson’s window she was shot in the face with a pistol.

Irvington, NJ

The DailyMail reported that Robert Sabio, a 70-year-old grandfather of eight, was beaten to death after he accidentally backed into a car while parking. The car received little damage, yet the driver and passengers got angry enough to savagely beat Sabio. He was taken to University hospital where he died as a result of blunt force trauma.

These are just a few of many road rage instances that end in tragedy in the United States each year. Some have never been confronted head on with an enraged driver, but it is an unnerving experience. Knowing how to act when this situation happens could save your life. As shocking as it may seem, people murder each other over being cut off on the road. ABC News featured Psychologist Dr. Ryan Fuller, who gives some advice to those approached by an angry driver.

Dealing with Angry Drivers

1. Keep Your Cool

It can be easy to get angry at the aggressor, and nobody would blame you, but showing your anger will only escalate the situation further.

2. Don’t Make Eye Contact

Dr. Ryan Fuller says this advice is the most important, as the attacker can see eye contact as a threat, and will be encouraged to pursue the attack.

3. Stay in Your Car and Ignore the Attacker

If a person approaches your car in a rage, roll up the windows, lock the doors, and stare away from the attacker. Though this might make the person angry, he is likely to walk away if he can’t pull you into a fight.

4. Call the Police

Few reasons exist in which you should use your phone while driving, and this is one of them. If you are feeling threatened, call the police. It is a good idea to pull to safety if possible, but remember that the aggressive driver could follow you. Make sure to stay in your locked car. Do not get out of your car to confront the other driver, as a fight could escalate quickly.

Avoiding Road Rage

Many things can trigger road rage in drivers, such as cutting people off, driving too slow in the fast lane (and not letting people pass), and tailgating. Some of these things are done innocently enough, but often these things are done out of road rage. In either case, drivers should be aware of their driving behavior. Often people get talking and don’t realize that they are blocking traffic in the fast lane, or forget to check their blind spot and end up cutting another motorist off. These seemingly innocent mistakes can cause other drivers to become enraged, leading them to honk, give you the finger, or cut you off on purpose. Situations like these can lead to people following you an/or threatening you.

Besides watching your driving habits, _ gives the following tips that will help you remain calm behind the wheel, especially when drivers make mistakes at your expense.

1. Listen to Music

According to Kevin Labar, assistant professor of brain sciences at Duke, classical music can create a pleasant state of mind in the listener, and a relaxing mood, making the task at hand – in this case driving, easier. However, personal taste is an issue here; if someone doesn’t like classical music, it probably won’t have a calming effect on him. Pick some music to listen to that relaxes you while driving.

2. Concentrate on Driving

Texting, eating, doing makeup, or even talking on the phone can distract you from driving. You may think that you can do two things at once, but studies show that one of the tasks will suffer from multi-tasking, and driving is a task too important to let suffer. If you are engaging in distracted driving, your response to other drivers’ mistakes will be delayed, not to mention the fact that you will most likely be making driving mistakes yourself.

3. Let the Small Things Go

If a driver cuts you off, whether by mistake or not, let it go. Move out of the way if needed, and avoid confrontation and eye contact. Since other motorists’ lives are at stake around you, this is not the time to confront another driver. Again, if the behavior of the other driver is threatening, call the police.

Do not speed up around the other vehicle; don’t make gestures at the driver, and don’t try to yell through your window. Learn to accept that drivers will make innocent mistakes around you, and know that you make several yourself.

If you make a mistake, give a friendly gesture to the other driver, whether a wave or a “sorry,” but leave it at that. Sometimes an acknowledgment from you that you made a mistake can calm the other driver, and confrontation will be avoided.

4. Don’t Misuse Your Horn

A friendly honk (a couple of short honks) is sometimes necessary if someone is coming into your lane or is about to hit you. But laying on the horn and overusing it can create tension among drivers, which will lead to road rage. Honk only when necessary. Honking at someone because she made you angry is only going to escalate the problem. Remember, let the little things go.

Injuries from Road Rage

While road rage seems to be quite a problem, not just in the United States, but throughout the world, these tips can help you avoid being injured or killed from an angry driver.

Good Guys Injury Law specializes in personal injury law and wrongful death suits. If you have been injured due to road rage or someone else’s negligence, you are likely entitled to compensation. Call us at (801) 506-0800 for a free and confidential consultation.

Photo “alg_angry_driver” copyright of John Greenfield. *no changes made to image*


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