Ideally, you’d never have to think about road rage while driving around in West Virginia. Drivers have a duty to keep their cool and operate their vehicles safely at all times – even when they’re feeling angry or upset. Unfortunately, not all drivers can control their emotions behind the wheel. You might be one of them. The more you know about road rage, the better your chances will be of preventing and avoiding it.

What Is Road Rage?

Road rage” refers to any type of aggressive or violent behavior that comes from a driver’s anger at what other motorists are doing. An example of road rage is one driver getting uncontrollably angry when another driver travels too slow on the interstate, passing the slow driver, and then slamming on his/her brakes. Road rage can result in serious accidents, property damage, and various personal injuries. Violent attacks, assaults, and assaults with weapons have all arisen out of road rage situations. Knowing how to prevent, handle, and diffuse road rage can help you avoid altercations and crashes.

What to Do When You Experience Road Rage (and How to Prevent It)

If you’re someone who is prone to road rage, take steps to prevent yourself from getting to an uncontrollable level of anger or irritation. Preventing road rage is always better than trying to come back down once you’re already angry. Listen to calming music on the road, make your car relaxing and comfortable, and give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. If you sense yourself starting to get angry at the drivers around you, remember what is actually important in life. Don’t let yourself get too upset about someone you likely will never encounter again.

It’s a good idea to avoid situations that are likely to make you mad when driving. Yelling at your kids in the car, for example, might lead to road rage, as might arguing with your passengers or a spouse. Driving after an upsetting conversation or an event such as getting fired from work could also make you more prone to road rage. Try to only drive when you have the focus and peace of mind to dedicate your full attention to the road.

The actions you take can also help prevent sparking road rage in drivers around you. Although some drivers will get angry even if you obey all roadway rules, most road rage incidents start with one driver doing something to upset the other. Avoid tailgating other drivers, cutting them off, driving too slowly in the left-hand lane, making obscene gestures at other drivers, or yelling at them from your car. You might upset the wrong person on the roadway.

What to Do When You Encounter Road Rage

Road rage can be a dangerous thing to encounter on the streets. A road rage driver can behave recklessly and unpredictably – switching lanes erratically, braking suddenly, speeding, and breaking other traffic laws. A driver who has flown into a rage might be impossible to placate as a fellow driver, bicyclist, or pedestrian.

Do not attempt to calm the other driver down, stop the driver’s vehicle, or confront the aggressive or aggravated driver. This could be disastrous and result in a car accident, fist fight, or physical assault. Instead, keep your distance from the road rage driver. Try to diffuse the situation by acting in a friendly manner. Give the driver a friendly (or apologetic) smile and wave, letting the other driver know that you acknowledge the situation.

Do not yell, cast blame, or otherwise worsen the driver’s rage. Do not get out of your car or attempt to confront the angry driver. Disengage with the driver if possible, leaving him or her to cool off away from you. If the driver follows you, tailgates your vehicle, or starts to harass you, drive to the nearest police station and request help.

If you or a loved one is involved in a car accident due to road rage, contact our car accident lawyers to schedule your free initial consultation to learn how we may be able to help.

Attorney Timothy Manchin established the Manchin Injury Law Group in 2011 after his law partner of more than 25 years became a West Virginia circuit court judge. His focus is on helping individual clients and entire families victimized by negligent acts.

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