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One of the most dangerous things Americans do is travel on our highways. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), motor vehicle accidents are the number two cause of unintentional deaths in our country, and road rage is contributing to this problem.

Road rage is when people lose control of their anger and behave in an irrational or threatening manner while driving. At one time this was considered a rare occurrence, but new studies show that the problem is growing at an alarming rate. Statistics recently released by the National Highway Traffic Administration show that instances of rage-related fatal accidents increased by 1000 percent over the nine-year period of 2004-2013, with 2013 being the last year the data has been consolidated.

Even more alarming is the fact that an increasing number of road rage cases are escalating from the already dangerous stage of aggressive driving to include gun violence. Instances of shots being fired in road rage cases have more than doubled over the last two years.

More alarming road rage numbers

  • Aggressive driving causes 66 percent of all traffic fatalities.
  • Males 19 years old or younger are most likely to exhibit road rage.
  • Half of all drivers on the receiving end of aggressive behavior admit they respond with aggressive behavior themselves even knowing it could escalate the situation.
  • There were 218 murders and 12,610 injuries were directly attributed to road rage in the last seven years.
  • Two percent of drivers admit they have tried to run an aggressor off the road.
  • Over one-third of road rage incidents now involve a firearm.

These are some very disturbing numbers, and unfortunately, what they point to is that there is the ever-increasing chance that you will be affected directly or indirectly by a road rage incident.

Avoiding raging drivers

You can never be sure what is going to set another driver off. However, there are a few things that you can do minimize the chance that you will be the target of their rage:

  • Don’t weave in and out of traffic.
  • Remember to always check your blind spot before changing lanes.
  • Remember to always use your turn indicators when changing lanes or making turns
  • Don’t tailgate. If someone is tailgating you, move over and let them pass.
  • Don’t drive slowly in the left-hand lane. This is illegal in Florida.
  • Avoid the sudden use of your brakes.
  • Don’t make rude gestures, flash your lights, or blow your horn at other drivers.

Dealing with road rage

If you do become the target of an enraged driver, it can quickly become a life-threatening situation. Under no circumstances should you stop and try to deal with the other driver. If you have a cell phone, you should immediately call the police for assistance. If your cell isn’t working or you are without one, seek a crowded location and draw as much attention to yourself as possible. But again, do not exit your car.

Other things to avoid until you can get help are making eye contact with the other driver, returning their gestures or signals, and getting angry yourself. Focus on maintaining control of yourself and your vehicle. Joining them in their irrational behavior only increases the danger you place yourself and others in.

Control your own anger

Becoming angry with others on the road can only lead to larger problems. Being the one out of control is even worse than being the victim.

There are always going to be poor drivers on the road but few, if any, intentionally do stupid things behind the wheel. Remember, none of us are perfect; be patient with others when they slip up.

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