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How to Handle Road Rage Like a Boss

What’s one of the most important things truckers and drivers need to know today? How to handle road rage like a boss. Keep it cool and play it safe.

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ABCO Transportation
June 15, 2021
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It happens every day on the highways and streets to all kinds of drivers. Road rage is real and it has two sides. You might suffer from road rage when behind that wheel or you might inadvertently set off another driver. Either way, you need to know how to handle road rage like a boss to play if safe every time you’re driving.

What’s one of the most important things truckers and drivers need to know today? How to handle road rage like a boss.  Are you a victim of road rage? Maybe you are feeling hot behind the wheel. Regardless, there are a few things you can do to keep your cool. Handle road rage like a boss by:

  • Always keeping a calm temperament
  • Staying in your vehicle when you feel threatened
  • Taking deep breaths 
  • Listening to music
  • Avoiding eye contact with the angry driver

One of the best things truck drivers can do to handle road rage like a boss is relying on a lesson likely learned in CDL school: remain unaffected. Let’s dive a little deeper into the subject of road rage and learn about dealing with aggressive drivers, keeping your cool, and more.

What is Road Rage?

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Road rage is a common occurrence on the streets and highways. In fact, a survey conducted by AAA found that 80% of all drivers have experienced some kind of road rage. There’s a good chance you’ve even felt heated when on the streets and highways. But what is road rage?

Road rage can be described as feelings of anger and aggression felt when behind the wheel. Someone who is experiencing road rage often drives aggressively. You might find them engaging in risky road behaviors. These behaviors include tailgating the vehicle in front of them, excessively honking their horn, making rude gestures, or even worse. More extreme examples of road rage might include getting out of their vehicle to confront another driver or even purposefully ramming into another driver.

Truckers and Incidents of Road Rage

The most acute examples of road rage can even turn into violence, and unfortunately, truck drivers are sometimes the victims. According to reports, 32-year-old truck driver James Womack, a U.S. Army Veteran and father of three, was fatally shot in Omaha, Nebraska. Mr. Womack was running a local delivery in his big rig was fatally shot in the back after a traffic dispute with a man in a pickup truck. Michael Benson, the pickup truck driver, was sentenced to 69-89 years in prison for Mr. Womack’s murder.

Mr. Womack’s tragedy is just one example of how road rage incidents can make like difficult on the road for truck drivers. This is why it is imperative that truckers learn how to handle road rage like a boss. The right coping strategies can prevent both falling victim and experiencing anger behind the wheel.

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What Causes Road Rage?

One of the keys to preventing road rage is understanding the causes. There are many factors that contribute to road rage, and in fact, some folks are just predisposed to suffering from road rage.

What is the Psychology Behind Road Rage?

Research reported by the American Psychological Association indicates that young male drivers are more likely to engage in acts of road rage. Three other psychological elements associated with the increased likelihood to perpetrate road rage include:

  1. Stressful life circumstances 
  2. Misdirected anger or taking frustrations out on the road
  3. Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs

The APA also reports that drivers who are most likely to get angry on the road differ from more relaxed drivers in a few important ways. Drivers who suffer from or engage in road rage tend to:

  • Think hostile and aggressive thoughts, often associated with revenge
  • Let feelings of anger escalate quickly, both in traffic in and other life situations
  • Take more risks on the road; including speeding, running red lights, ignoring stop signs, and not wearing a seat belt
  • Experience more anger, anxiety, and impulsivity -- again, both in traffic and everyday life
  • Report more accidents and moving violations than other drivers on the road

Now you likely understand a little more of the psychology and inherent factors that can lead to road rage. Let’s look at some things that can happen on the road that can really set someone off.

Causes of Road Rage in Traffic

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Happenings on the highways can really detonate road rage in some drivers. Let’s take a look at some factors you’ll find in traffic that can set off an explosion in a triggered driver.

Heavy Traffic

It is a simple fact that every trucker knows: big city traffic can get under anyone’s skin. From slow-moving jams to mistrust of other cars, heavy traffic can make drivers prone to road rage. 

Running Late

Sometimes when it feels like the whole world is slowing you down when you’re running behind. Running late can lead to impatience. In many cases, impatient drivers are more likely to drive erratically from anger.

Distracted Driving

Seeing other drivers sending texts or checking email on their cell phones while behind the wheel can be a frightening sight. It can also set off anger toward distracted drivers and be a cause of road rage.

There’s more to distracted driving than being on your phone behind the wheel. Messy paperwork can be a serious distraction on the road. Our truck driver paperwork organizer tips will help you stay focused on the road.

Feeling “Above the Law”

Road rage can lead to traffic violations. Drivers who feel they are “above the law” might suffer road rage when forced to obey traffic control devices and speed limits. 

Habit

Some people just have a short fuse. People who are habitually angry might be in the habit of acting upon angry urges and perpetrating road rage.

Anonymity on the Road

Some people feel invisible behind the wheel. Hiding behind your car’s tinted windows can lead to a feeling of anonymity on the road. The inconspicuousness some drivers feel on the streets can lead them to be more prone to acting out of anger.

If you’re behind the wheel of a big rig, you get a birds-eye view of everything happening on the streets and highways. This means truck drivers have seen it all when it comes to road rage. In fact, some drivers might have even gotten hot under the collar on the road and experienced road rage.

There are many factors that can contribute to road rage. From personality and psychological factors to triggers on the streets and highways, drivers can suffer from road rage in a variety of situations. Understanding what causes road rage is important.  It can help you learn to avoid these red hot feelings and affect your driving skills and judgment.

How Does Road Rage Affect Your Driving Skills and Judgment?

Your driving skills and judgment are a big part of how you stay safe behind the wheel. Psychological and safety studies have proven over and over that negative emotions, like road rage, can affect your driving skills in all sorts of ways. This is why it is essential that truck drivers stay cool, calm, and collected on the road.

How does road rage affect your driving skills and judgment? According to information from an article published by Psychology Today, driving while angry is a significant factor in traffic accidents. This is likely because anger and road rage can lead to risky behavior on the road. These negative feelings can encourage reckless driving. 

How Does Anger Impair Driver Judgment?

Anger can impair driving skills and judgment. Angry drivers are likely to drive aggressively. Aggressive driving might include participating in actions like:

  • Tailgating
  • Changing lanes too quickly and without signaling
  • Exceeding the speed limit
  • Ignoring stop signs and red lights
  • Weaving between cars
  • Making obscene or rude gestures to other drivers

Anger isn’t the only factor that can affect your driving skills and judgment. Factors like drowsiness, alcohol consumption, and driver experience can also play a role in driving skills and judgment.

How to Identify a Driver with Road Rage

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Learning how to handle road rage like a boss? One important step is learning to identify drivers who might be suffering from road rage or an angry emotional state. Drivers with road rage often stand out on the streets and highways.

Drivers who are feeling road rage might engage in aggressive driving behaviors. It is easy to identify an aggressive driver. For example, aggressive driving might include actions like:

  • Intentionally ignoring traffic control devices
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Yelling at other drivers
  • Making rude or obscene hand gestures

Road rage often goes beyond aggressive driving. It might include acts of violence or assault. This makes road rage seriously scary and even illegal.

Is Road Rage Illegal?

Road rage can go beyond aggressive driving. Some law enforcement agencies consider aggressive driving a traffic offense and road rage a criminal offense. This means road rage is illegal.

For example, the Arizona Department of Public Safety Arizona State Troopers defines road rage as “an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or an assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway.”

This means an act of aggressive driving might trigger road rage in another driver. A severe act of aggressive driving, like intentionally ramming another car, might be an example of road rage, too.

In the most basic sense, law enforcement agencies often view road rage as a wanton and willful disregard for the safety and well-being of other drivers on the road.

How Do You Respond to Road Rage?

how-do-you-respond-to-road-rage

A huge part of knowing how to handle road rage like a boss is understanding how to respond. When it comes to dealing with an aggressive driver or someone experiencing road rage, sometimes a non-response is the best response.

What is a non-response? It might be best to simply not acknowledge the driver suffering from road rage. Don’t speak. Don’t make eye contact. Simply ignore the angry or raging driver.

If you feel physically threatened by road rage, it might be wise to pull into a safe place and remain in your truck with doors locked and call the police or highway patrol immediately. It is also a good idea to take the license plate number of the offending driver’s vehicle. 

How to Handle an Aggressive Driver

As noted above, aggressive driving is often a precursor to road rage. You might be able to de-escalate a potential road rage situation by playing it safe on the streets and highways. 

Stay calm, and follow these 5 tips to handle an aggressive driver like a boss:

  1. Don’t make eye contact. Making eye contact shows an aggressive driver that you acknowledge them. This can trigger them further.
  2. Get out of their way. It is a good idea to distance yourself from the aggressive driver as much as possible. Pullover and let them pass. 
  3. Choose your battles. Don’t go up against an aggressive driver. Put your pride aside, take a deep breath, and let it go.
  4. Don’t make a gesture. It can be easy to get heated and make rude gestures or signals when dealing with an aggressive driver. Don’t fall into the temptation.
  5. When in doubt, report aggressive driving. Seriously aggressive driving and road rage can be a criminal offense. Call 9-1-1 to make sure the highway patrol is notified.

As always, driving defensively behind the wheel can help you avoid potential encounters with aggressive drivers and road ragers. Rely on your skills and stay safe on the streets and highways.

How Do You Conquer Road Rage?

The tips above should give you a bit of insight on how to avoid aggressive drivers and how to handle road rage like a boss when you’re a potential victim. But what do you do if you’re anger threshold is rising and you? 

You can conquer road rage by keeping a few tips in mind.

Conquer Road Rage Before Driving

  • Leave on time. Don’t put yourself in a situation in which you are rushing and impatient, as this can lead to feelings of anger and road rage.
  • Calm down before you drive. Are you upset or suffering from negative emotions? Take a few moments to calm down before getting behind the wheel.

Conquer Road Rage on the Highways and Streets

  • Use only positive hand gestures. It’s okay to wave to a driver who lets you merge in traffic. It is not okay to “flip someone the bird” because they cut you off. This can help maintain a positive attitude on the road.
  • Keep a safe distance. Don’t tailgate the vehicles in front of you. Keep a safe distance to allow for ample brake room and safe travel.
  • Be patient with other drivers. Don’t be the guy who blows on your horn the minute the green light changes. Don’t get frustrated with those going slowly -- they might be lost. Keep a calm a patient attitude on the road.
  • Never, ever stop to confront another driver. Yes, other drivers can make tempers flare. Never, even consider exiting your vehicle to confront someone else on the road.

Another way you can stay calm is to consider a passenger pooch. Traveling with a canine companion can lower blood pressure and keep you in a good mood. We even published an article about the best trucker dogs to help you enjoy a furry friend on the road.

You might be able to conquer road rage by keeping the above tips in mind. If road rage is still an issue, even after being mindful, it is time to call in the professionals. Road rage therapy is real and might even be required if you commit a related crime. 

Can I Go to Road Rage Therapy?

can-I-go-to-road-rage-thrapy

Is your road rage out of control? Is it impacting your truck driving career? Are you facing legal trouble stemming from road rage or aggressive driving? If so, road rage therapy might be a good option.

You can go to road rage therapy. According to information from the American Counseling Association, road rage therapy might include anger management techniques and similar practices to help you keep your cool on the road.

Victims of road rage might also seek therapy. Suffering acts of violence on the road can leave lingering trauma and even severe PTSD. 

Those who suffer from road rage and those who have been the victim of road rage should understand that seeking help can be vital. Take care of yourself and those around you by taking action.

Drive Like a Boss with ABCO Transportation

Now that you know how to handle road rage like a boss, get ready to drive like a boss with ABCO Transportation.

ABCO Transportation is seeking experienced drivers for local, regional, and long-haul lanes all across the country. You’ll feel respected and secure when you’re on the road with us.

What does ABCO do to show how much we respect our drivers? ABCO drivers enjoy many benefits and perks, including:

  • Retirement benefits for life-long security
  • Customized home time and paid vacation
  • Veteran friendly trucking company
  • All the insurance you need to stay healthy and sound
  • Salary AND per mile pay
  • Training programs, career advancement, and more

Ready to get behind the wheel with an industry leader? Browse truck driving jobs and apply today.

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