Just this week, three different road rage incidents across the country led to shootings. In two of the incidents, a person died. What leads to violent, even fatal road rage? And how can you avoid becoming a victim?
Recent Examples of Road Rage
In Santa Fe Springs, California, tensions between two drivers on a freeway escalated. First, one driver tossed what appeared to be a coffee cup onto the other vehicle. Then they pulled up alongside the other vehicle and let loose with pepper spray and bullets before speeding off.
And in Barbourville, Kentucky, an altercation at an intersection erupted into violence. A heated argument between the drivers ended when one of them shot the other multiple times. The driver who was shot later died at the hospital.
Meanwhile, in Terre Haute, Indiana, two drivers got into an argument outside a grocery store. One of them ended up dead from gunshot wounds. Vigo County Sheriff John Plasse told reported, “It’s just a sad situation. People get upset and things like this happen where it possibly could have been avoided. So it’s just a bad day when something like this happens.”
But is it really just a bad day that makes someone boil over in a murderous rage? Why are so many people acting like they’re starring in a Mad Max reboot, leading to hundreds of road rage incidents each year?
What Causes Road Rage–And How to Prevent It
According to WebMD, part of the problem is an “innate feeling of intense territoriality” that comes over us when we drive. If we’re already tense and having a bad day, a perceived threat or insult by another driver can be enough to tip anyone over the edge.
However, young men are the most likely demographic to experience road rage. And a prior conviction for aggressive driving is a good indicator that they will go on to have future convictions for other violent offenses.
Even though you might think you’d never go into a rage yourself, it could happen to anyone in the wrong circumstances. There are a few signs that you are driving too aggressively, putting yourself and other drivers at greater risk. Those signs include:
- Over-use of your horn, especially when you are frustrated
- Shouting or flashing obscene gestures at other drivers
- Frequent passing or racing to beat a red light; the feeling that you need to “win” while driving
- Tailgaiting a vehicle that you believe is going too slowly
- Driving over the speed limit on a regular basis
If any of those sound familiar, you should consider taking steps to minimize stress and adjust your attitude. It sounds a bit New Age, but meditation can help. If you’re concerned about yourself or someone in your household, taking an anger management course could also be a good choice.