A road safety specialist has offered guidance to drivers on how to change their behaviour in order to reduce their chances of becoming a road rage victim.
GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging drivers to protect themselves by being alert to early signs of road rage and Neil Worth, road safety officer at GEM, has offered five pieces of advice for drivers to consider in the hope of avoiding confrontation on the roads.
Neil comments: “Most of us will have some experience of being on the receiving end of someone else’s aggression. Thankfully, violent and unprovoked attacks are rare, but it pays to be observant and if possible to recognise signs of trouble at their earliest stages.”
“We encourage drivers to leave plenty of time for their journeys, which means they can feel calm and in control at the wheel. Stress can lead to risk taking, and this in turn increases the likelihood of aggressive incidents.
“We also urge drivers to avoid becoming involved in situations they recognise as dangerous or risky. If you’re worried about another driver who may be in danger, then stop and call the police.”
How serious an issue is road rage in the UK?
Road rage incidents can be extremely distressing for victims. The RAC reported in December 2018 that almost half of UK drivers had been a victim of road rage (43 per cent), with female drivers most likely to be targeted. Eighty per cent of women responding to the RAC survey said that the incident ‘stayed with them’ hours after the incident itself, while 63 per cent of men agreed.
As well as being distressing, aggressive behaviour on the roads can be fatal. Department for Transport figures from 2018 showed that more than 5,000 people were either killed or injured in collisions where aggressive driving was a contributing factor in a three-year period.
Commenting on the RAC report, Richard Gladman, head of driving and riding standards at road safety charity IAM Roadsmart, called on motorists to look at their own behaviour, saying: “Road rage does not affect everyone every day. If you’re finding it is happening very often, you might want to think about how you engage with other road users.”
How can I avoid being a victim of road rage?
While victims should not feel that they are at fault if they have been targeted by an aggressive driver, here are some behaviours that Neil Worth, from GEM, says can help you avoid becoming a victim:
- Keep calm and show restraint. Every journey brings the risk of frustration and conflict. Make a pledge to be patient. Avoid using your horn or making gestures in anger.
- Avoid competition and resist the desire to ‘get even’. If the standard of someone else’s driving disappoints you, don’t attempt to educate or rebuke them.
- Don’t push into traffic queues. If you wait and clearly signal, you won’t wait long before another drive lets you in.
- Say thank you, say sorry. Courtesy encourages co-operation on the road. If you make a mistake (and we all do!) or perhaps cut things a bit fine, then a gesture of apology avoids confrontation and helps defuse anger.
- Move away from trouble. If you feel seriously threatened by another driver, then ensure your car doors are locked and drive (at legal speed) to the nearest police station or busy area (petrol station forecourts are ideal). Use your mobile phone to alert the police. Pressing the horn repeatedly or continuously is likely to deter a potential attacker.
I’m an angry driver, how can I avoid succumbing to my rage?
If a significant proportion of British drivers are reporting that they have been victims of road rage, it stands to reason that many have also been the perpetrator. Advice from the RAC on how to avoid becoming the wrongdoer in a road rage incident is markedly similar to the advice on how to avoid becoming a victim:
- Stay calm, and if you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed by the stress of a drive, consider pulling over.
- Don’t retaliate to aggressive or bad driving.
- Ignore aggressive behaviour from other road users. It’s safer to let someone past rather than matching a dangerous driver’s behaviour.
- Acknowledge your mistakes and even if you’re not in the wrong, consider apologising.