How to avoid being a victim of road rage

Road rage is a common problem on UK roads. A recent poll of 3,000 people found that nearly one in five road users are threatened with physical violence each year.

In a separate study, 22 percent of motorists* claimed to have got out of their car to argue with another driver in a road rage incident.

Dangerous overtaking is said to be the main trigger for road rage, prompting 28 percent of drivers to engage in an argument with a fellow motorist. Tailgating, using a mobile phone at the wheel and breaking the speed limit were the other sparks of anger named in the study.

Ahead of the end of the summer holiday period, road safety and breakdown company GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging drivers to spot the signs of road rage. Tens of thousands of motorists will hit the road over the bank holiday weekend, with Highways England removing roadworks to relieve stress.

“Most of us will have some experience of being on the receiving end of someone else’s aggression,” said Neil Worth, road safety officer at GEM.

“Thankfully, violent and unprovoked attacks are rare, but it pays to be observant and if possible to recognise signs of trouble at their earliest stages.

Avoiding road rage

road rage incident

GEM has identified a few steps that it says will reduce the risk of a driver being the target of someone else’s aggression. These are:

  • Keep calm and show restraint: every journey brings the risk of frustration and conflict, so be patient and avoid using your horn. Hand gestures should be avoided, too.
  • Avoid the desire to ‘get even’: don’t attempt to educate or rebuke a driver who you believe is in the wrong.
  • Don’t push into traffic queues: wait for a signal from a fellow motorist.
  • Say thank you, say sorry: if you make a mistake, offer an apology to defuse any anger.
  • Move away from trouble: if you feel threatened, lock the doors and drive to the nearest police station. Alternatively, move to a busy area, such as a petrol station. Contact the police and/or press the horn repeatedly to deter an attacker.

Neil Worth added: “We encourage drivers to leave plenty of time for their journeys, which means they can feel calm and in control at the wheel. Stress can lead to risk taking, and this in turn increases the likelihood of aggressive incidents.

Man and woman road rage

“We also urge drivers to avoid becoming involved in situations they recognise as dangerous or risky. If you’re worried about another driver who may be in danger, then stop and call the police.”

Olympic gold medal winning cyclist and jockey Victoria Pendleton has backed a campaign aimed at encouraging a constructive debate on ‘road equality.” She said everyone has “an equal right to be on the road”.

“So let’s be more compassionate and considerate to others and see what change we can drive.”

*Cap HPI spoke to 1,002 adult drivers in February 2019.

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