Road rage, where motorists become irrationally angry behind the wheel, remains a common and potentially deadly problem on roadways in the U.S. In fact, government statistics reveal that road rage contributes to more than 65% of all traffic fatalities. Alarmingly, in almost 40% of road rage incidents, someone brandishes a firearm.
If you suspect motorists near you may become aggressive, it is wise to place some distance between your vehicle and theirs. After all, additional space increases you response time, potentially allowing you to turn, stop or call police. Here are three signs you may be driving near an irate motorist.
1. Unsafe driving behaviors
Watching for unsafe driving behaviors is one of the easier ways to identify an angry driver. If someone tailgaits, exceeds the speed limit, changes lanes eratically, blows through stoplights or disregards traffic laws, you may be at risk for an altercation on the road.
2. Angry words and obscene gestures
Sometimes, spotting road rage requires little more than listening for angry words or watching for obscene gestures. Angry drivers often want to express their displeasure with those around them. Still, if you respond or react to words or gestures, you may inadvertently escalate road rage to a dangerous level.
3. Engine revs and brake checks
There are few legitimate reasons to rev an engine. If drivers depress their accelerators when their vehicles are in neutral or when they have their brakes engaged, they may be challenging you. Likewise, motorists who slam on their brakes to test your reaction are looking either to prove a point or to frighten you.
Not only do you have an obligation to remain calm behind the wheel, but you must also survey your surroundings for potential hazards. Ultimately, if you have any inkling an angry driver may become dangerous, it is best to treat the situation as road rage.