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Recognizing and responding to road rage

Road rage has become a part of our busy and stressed out culture. It seems as if every other week in the news, you see a new story about someone being injured or killed in an accident caused by a driver who lost control in anger. Fortunately, there are things that you and other Ohio residents can do that may cut your chances of becoming another road rage statistic.

You will first need to understand that road rage and aggressive driving are two different things. Aggressive driving can cause accidents, but law enforcement considers it a traffic offense. Road rage is a criminal offense that results when a driver is deliberately trying to cause harm. The following facts, provided by the American Safety Council, illustrate several disturbing elements of road rage:

  • Over a period of seven years, road rage reportedly resulted in 218 murders and 12,610 injuries.
  • 37 percent of incidents involving aggressive driving involved a gun.
  • Aggressive driving is responsible for 66 percent of fatal traffic accidents.
  • 2 percent of drivers admitted they actually tried to run someone else off the road.

You might also find it upsetting that half of those targeted by an aggressive driver respond aggressively themselves. If someone cuts you off, honks their horn at you, gives you an angry hand gesture or even swerves in your direction, how should you respond?

Authorities suggest not engaging or retaliating. Do not make eye contact with the aggressive driver, and if he or she shows signs of escalating the aggression, take steps to safely get away. If the driver pursues you, use your cellphone to call 911 and drive to a well-lit location where you can quickly run inside for help. A gas station is a good place since they are usually open and parking is near the doors. A police or fire station, however, would be ideal places to drive to if you are near one. Never drive to your home and let your pursuer know where you live.

Driving courteously may reduce your risk of an accident, but does not always prevent aggressive driving from others. The key is in keeping calm and making quick decisions to get to a safe place if you find yourself targeted by an angry driver.

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