On Facebook recently, a friend described an incident in which she was driving in her hometown when an inattentive driver almost pulled out from a side street and hit her. The other driver met her at the nearby stop light and began what ending up being a yelling match between two adult women. The other driver was trying to assert that she had the right of way when she did not. Nothing physical happened, thankfully.
My friend’s account reminded me of an incident several years ago that made me head to the nearby police station and report the driver. I don’t recall specifics but I do remember the female driver had a small child in a car seat in her back seat as she drove erratically.
Street Smarts routinely gets emails from people, including cyclists, concerned about road rage and aggressive drivers. Tailgating, being cut off in traffic and receiving the single finger salute are the top complaints. With the warm weather season here and the county’s population about to burst with tourists, many folks will be on the road — in cars, on bike and on foot — and some will make mistakes.
To avoid road rage incidents, obey traffic laws, leave home early to allow plenty of time to reach your destination, be attentive and remember to breathe. Your destination will be there when you get there.
But sometimes that doesn’t work. Sometimes the other driver is going to insist that they are right, you are wrong and they want to prove their point.
What should you do if you encounter an angry driver who will not let it — whatever “it” is — go?
“Avoid a physical confrontation,” said Sgt. Matt Eller of the Capitola Police Department. “Pull over to a safe spot. If the other person is becoming aggressive, lock yourself in the car and call 911 from your cell phone. Without endangering yourself, get a physical description of the aggressive person and get a vehicle description. Getting a plate for the dispatcher would be the best thing.”
Definitely report any engagement that scares the living daylights out of you, whether it involves you or not.
“I know drivers believe, ‘there is never an officer around when you need one;’ however, I can tell you that we are out there and on a number of occasions, drivers have pulled up on my traffic stops to thank me for stopping someone and giving them a ticket,” said Lt. John Hohmann of the Scotts Valley Police Department. “I will always encourage drivers to report traffic violations when it involves the safety of our fellow motorists. It is very rewarding to the have the authority and ability to change driver’s habits by making traffic stops and issuing citations to drivers who are poor drivers – and who disregard the safety of others.”
More tips to combat road rage are available on the DMV’s website at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/hdbk/idt_cong_rr_phones.htm. Also, read studies on this topic from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/research/AggDrivingEnf/pages/Introduction.html and from AAA at http://www.aaafoundation.org/resources/index.cfm?button=agdrtext. There’s also a website dedicated to the topic. Roadragers.com posts news reports, video and other information on the topic, as well as gives people a place to report road rage incidents and a forum to vent their thoughts.