It happens when you least expect it. Someone changes lanes without indicating, swerving right in front of you and causing you to slam on the brakes. You could be minding your own business when a tailgater comes speeding up behind you, almost colliding with the rear of your car. When adrenaline is racing, it can be easy (and tempting) to slam the horn hard, throw up a middle finger or scream out of the window.
But before you do, it’s best to think about where the confrontation might lead. Lauren Shaw, an assistant psychology lecturer at Monash University, said 80 per cent of drivers thought road rage attacks were increasing.
She told ABC News that in the course of her research, drivers told her their aggressive behaviour was intended to “teach other drivers a lesson”.
But the consequences of road rage can be deadly serious. In December 2018, Sydney father Frank Sant was stabbed in a “road rage” attack after he traded insults and physical blows with Ahmed Salami, who threw a bar of soap at his vehicle. In court, Mr. Salami was denied bail.
What constitutes road rage?
Road rage is aggressive or violent behaviour by a motorist towards another road user, usually the driver of another vehicle. An article published in The Age in 2017 says that more than 80 per cent of Victorians claim to have expressed anger on the road. While there are no specific laws regarding road rage, tailgating is an offence in the Road Safety Act and threatening or abusing somebody verbally may also be classed as assault.
How should you react?
Gold Coast driver trainer Sonia Freer told ABC News there were four steps to handling irate road ragers: remain calm, ignore the angry driver, pull over to the curb or to a service station and don’t get out of your car.
Car Dash Cameras Australia has some road rage advice that corresponds with Freers’ point: do not get out of your car. If an aggressor is pursuing you, don’t initiate a car chase. Drive to a spot with a lot of people around and either call 000 or ask one of your passengers (if you have any) to do it.
If the aggressor is following you, do not drive home but instead drive to a police station. If there isn’t one around, find another public space with a lot of people.
Preventing road rage
Coming into contact with an aggressive or incompetent driver is usually not something you can predict or prevent. However, Shine offered a number of tips for minimising the risk of becoming a road rage target. These includes staying off your phone, avoid driving while tired, avoid caffeine or anything else that may make you agitated, leave on time, follow the road rules and do not tailgate.
If you’ve been injured in an accident involving any kind of motor vehicle, Shine’s personal injury lawyers can help you make a compensation claim. For more information and to get in touch with one of our legal experts today.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: February 1, 2019.