Road safetycomes in many forms, from keeping vehicles maintained to wearing seat belts and avoiding road hazards. One equally important aspect of road safety, however, has to do with one's ability to keep road rage in check.
An altercation leads to a tragic road rage incident
According to the
Associated Press, in May, police in Spokane were called to the scene of a shooting in the city's northside. When they got there, they said they discovered the victim, lying in the roadway.
In what the police have referred to as a "tragic case of
road rage," the woman ended up passing away at the scene. Investigators later learned that she had been a passenger in one vehicle when she got into an altercation with the driver of another, 28-year-old Richard Hough. When the two exited their vehicles, Hough ended up shooting the victim, according to police.
Perhaps surprisingly, Hough stayed at the scene after the shooting and cooperated with police. He has been charged with second-degree murder. The driver of the car in which the victim was riding, however, fled the scene.
Road rage interferes with a driver's ability to think clearly
Safe Motoristoffers an in-depth explanation of road rage for those interested in learning more about the phenomenon. They explain that the term was first coined by a Los Angeles television station following a series of freeway shootings across the city.
The current official definition of road rage comes to us from the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which defines road rage as when a driver "commits moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property; an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger of one motor vehicle on the operator or passengers of another motor vehicle."
Obviously, when a driver begins operating their vehicle as a weapon, or threatening others with an actual weapon such as a firearm, they have lost the ability to use their faculties rationally. Road rage is different from aggressive driving, in that the latter, while dangerous, doesn't involve an overt intent to harm.
How to stay calm on the road
Safe Motorist offers some examples of questions to ask yourself to determine whether you might have tendencies toward road rage that you'll want to work to keep in check. These include:
- Do you regularly drive over the speed limit, or try to "beat" red lights because you are in a hurry?
- Do you tailgate or flash your headlights at a driver in front of you that you believe is driving too slowly?
- Do you honk the horn often?
- Do you ever use obscene gestures or otherwise communicate angrily at another driver?
If you answered yes to at least some of these questions, you'll likely want to work on modifying your behavior before it escalates out of control. Thankfully, there are certain steps we can all take to avoid ending up on the news for committing an act of road rage.
The most important thing you can do when you experience aggressive driving or road rage is not to respond in kind. Try not to let anger overtake you. Remember that the other driver may have other difficulties going on in their life, and that their actions are in many ways beyond your control.
It's also important to avoid obscene gestures or honking your horn for reasons other than safety. As Safe Motorist reminds us, "Getting home safely is more important than teaching someone a dangerous lesson."
Road rage is just one of many hazards on the road. For this reason, it's important to be up to date on our
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