As humans, we tend to think highly of ourselves. That includes behavior that seems common but is also consequential, like driving.
We may be overestimating our ability, though and the statistics speak for themselves. Seventy-three percent of United States drivers considering themselves better than average, but more than 90 percent of crashes involve human error.
Typically, most of us fall right down the middle when it comes to our actual ability to drive, making mistakes behind the wheel from time to time. When other people make mistakes behind the wheel, our first inclination may be to get angry, resulting in road rage among your driver population.
What is road rage?
Road rage is defined by Merriam-Webster as a “motorist’s uncontrolled anger that is usually provoked by another motorist’s irritating act and is expressed in aggressive or violent behavior.” Some common types of road rage include tailgating, yelling or honking and prove to be a factor in more than half of all fatal crashes.
There’s been a 500 percent increase in reported cases of road rage over the past ten years according to CNN, that can be seen in driver behavior. In 2019, almost 80 percent of drivers admitted to significant anger, aggression or road rage within the past 30 days of driving.
Road rage is a common phrase that many associate with something as minor as being flipped off while on the road, but did you know just how dangerous (and even deadly) road rage can be?
Dangers of road rage
Many who are involved in road rage incidents don’t respond in a calm manner but instead escalate the situation. The American Automobile Association recorded over a seven-year period more than 200 murders and 12,000 injuries attributed to road rage, with the numbers continuing to rise. Even more alarming is that an average of 30 murders occur each year due to road rage.
Such behavior is not just criminal, but far too common and increasingly dangerous. Those exhibiting signs of road rage are more likely to lose control of their vehicles or drive at unsafe speeds. Even more startling, when crashes do occur, they’re usually worse, with 66 percent of traffic fatalities caused by aggressive driving.
Avoiding road rage is a two-way street. Reacting calmly to other drivers and staying calm yourself ensures that no perceived slight is worth endangering yourself or others on the road. It’s always worthwhile to remember that your behavior also represents another entity, whether your family or employer, and can generate a negative brand reputation by association.
With a preventative mindset, you’ll be able to empower your drivers to skirt the dangers of road rage. Here are five tips every safety professional needs to know to prevent road rage among your fleet.
How to prevent road rage with five tips
Keep your stress levels down
Most road rage incidents happen to already emotionally charged people – keep your stress down the best you can. Keep in mind too that a variety of factors, from spilled coffee to a lack of a blinker, can contribute to heightened stress and emotion levels.
If your drivers find themselves emotionally charged before getting in the car, it could prove worthwhile to calm down before choosing to get behind the wheel. Remember that in many road rage cases, other drivers weren’t originally trying to anger anyone but instead were working to get from point A to point B, unintentionally setting off road rage in the event.
Encourage drivers to take their time
Cutting the needed commute time close typically means not just stress for your drivers but also more dangerous roadway behaviors that could impact those around them. That’s why it’s so importance to encourage them to take plenty of time to get where they’re going, whether personally or for work-related activities.
We understand that being in a hurry isn’t always avoidable as life is unpredictable and things happen but leaving a few extra minutes early will make your drivers less stressed. Running late is one of the leading reasons given for road rage. Relay that padding a schedule with ten to 15 extra minutes can keep them safer on the road.
Stop engaging in erratic behavior
It’s simply not necessary to tailgate, speed, weave in and out of traffic, drive slowly in the left lane out of spite, flash headlights or cut off other vehicles to make a point. This goes for making rude gestures as well or yelling at other drivers.
Let your company’s drivers know that It’s not their role to remind others of how they should be driving – even if they are a horrible driver. Instead, engaging in courteous driver behavior behind the wheel is always the way to go.
Remember past cringeworthy driving mistakes
We can all look back on driving memories that make us cringe. After all, mistakes happen. It’s good to keep top of mind when encountered with frustrating driving behavior prior poor behind the wheel mistakes. Mention to your drivers that they should drive with forgiveness – it sounds cliché but working to silently forgive the drivers around them who may be engaging in risky behavior can bring internal peace that calms the potential for road rage.
Don’t escalate the situation
Whether it be slowing down, laying off the horn or even avoiding treating driving as a competitive activity, all can keep your drivers safer. Steering clear of mad motorists is integral instead of engaging with them. Choosing to de-escalate the situation instead of escalating is integral in keeping your drivers and those around them safer.
What should one of your drivers do if they encounter road rage?
Sometimes those exhibiting behaviors associated with road rage can be unrelenting and unreasonable. Remember that when a driver starts to act aggressively toward someone else on the road, escalating the situation at-hand is not the answer. Instead, encourage your drivers to do their best to ignore and avoid them. Slowing down, changing lanes or even exiting the highway for a few minutes can separate your driver from the aggressive driver in question.
If your driver can’t get away from the person exhibiting road rage behavior, know that every state has a hotline they can call to report aggressive driving. Do not stop if possible. If one of your drivers does have to stop, inform them that it’s best to pull into a crowded area like a strip mall, gas station or grocery store parking lot and stay in their car until the other person leaves. If an aggressive driver appears to be following them home or to their place of work, they should instead call the police and drive to the nearest station.
How to prevent road rage through repetition and vigilance
While you as a dedicated safety professional may remember all five tips we just provided, your drivers may need reminders. Every time they get behind the wheel, encourage your drivers to practice at least one of these actionable items. Such repetition will prove key in decreasing their chances of falling victim to road rage.
Another way to further decrease those chances? Through vigilance. Increased vigilance will keep your drivers more aware and smarter on the roadways, protecting them from road rage. Through your drivers becoming more aware of all that’s occurring on the road and how to best handle situations like road rage, you’re in turn keeping your company, community and drivers safer.
Such awareness needed also extends outside of issues like road rage and encompasses the need for more education surrounding driver safety. That’s why we have a simple place you can start.
To learn more about key statistics you as a safety professional should be aware of relating to driver safety, download our infographic.