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It wasn't that long ago that we equated road rage with horn honking, a few expletives, and maybe even a one-fingered gesture. But in 2021, there is a disturbing trend that impacts road safety.
More and more instances of road rage involve a gun, and the results are deadly.
Road rage shootings are on the rise in 2021
ABC News recently reported on road rage trends in the U.S. As of the beginning of June, 212 people have been killed or wounded in road rage shootings. To put that number into perspective, that figure for all of 2016 was 241.
If that pace continues, the year will end with approximately 800 road rage incidents involving a gun.
Adults aren't the only ones who are victims either. Several high-profile shootings have involved young children. In May, a 6-year-old boy from Orange County, California was shot and killed after what officials described as a "perceived unsafe lane change."
According to Everytown, road rage incidents with a gun aren't just increasing. These encounters are also becoming more deadly. In 2016, 34% of road rage incidents that involved a gun resulted in injury or death. In 2020, that number grew to 48%.
Plan ahead, so you can stop your road rage before it starts
The first step in preventing road rage is to understand how you might play a role. Keeping your own emotions in check is good for you and your fellow travelers.
Many of us travel the same commute every day or most days of the week. There are likely predictable pain points about your daily trips. Consider this advice when planning.
Allow a realistic amount of time to travel. Many of us are guilty of not taking road or weather conditions into account before we leave for work or other obligations.
Prepare to be stuck in traffic. Listen to an audiobook or podcast while you drive. If you do end up sitting in traffic, you won't feel like you're wasting your time. (Caveat: Only listen to audiobooks or podcasts if they don't distract you. Otherwise, they're a safety hazard.)
Be aware of annoying driving habits that upset you. What are your triggers? Is it when people forget to use their turn signals? Is it tailgaters who follow too closely?
Once you identify what upsets you, you can remind yourself that someone else's irrational behavior has nothing to do with you. The other driver could be running late or just having a bad day. So take a deep breath and don't take it personally.
Consider ways that you can make the roads safer for everyone
It goes without saying: there are no careless or annoying driving habits that warrant a violent reaction from another driver. Unfortunately, we can't control or predict how another driver will react under stress.
What we can control is how we contribute to roadway safety. One way to prevent dangerous driving is to not drive slowly in the left lane. Move over, stay in the right lane if you are driving slower than the cars around you. Before you switch lanes, use your turn signal and check your blind spot.
When people drive too slow in the left lane, they can create a bottleneck of frustrated drivers behind them. And that frustration can build and lead to acts of road rage, either against you or another driver down the road.
Having car insurance is another way to make the roads safer. If you need a new policy or just want to comparison shop online, check out Jerry today. You can get prices from the biggest insurers, without any spam or high-pressure sales.