The Belligerent Fender Bender - Watch Your Back: How to Avoid the Most Dangerous Moments in Daily Life (2016)

Watch Your Back: How to Avoid the Most Dangerous Moments in Daily Life (2016)

Chapter 10 The Belligerent Fender Bender

Fender bender-type accidents are common and just about every driver is going to suffer collision damage to their cars at one time or another. The cause of the accident could be simple carelessness, minor recklessness, inclement weather, road conditions, or any combination of the above. More often than not, the cause of a fender bender is entirely without malicious intent. Nevertheless, one or both drivers might become irate as the consequences settle in or one driver might come bounding out of their car door ready for a fight. The accident itself may not have been the result of aggressive driving but what if the rage begins after the cars have come to a stop?

It’s important to remember that the police are not likely to respond to a crash unless it involves physical injury. This leaves the car owners to manage their own safety. Once the scratching and banging has come to a halt, the first thing you have to do is establish whether or not you or your passengers have been injured. If you are not alone in the car, look each other over for bleeding or abrasions. Make sure everyone is capable of understanding what you are asking and all passengers should be able to provide feedback.


Even a seemingly minor accident can result in the driver or passenger striking their head inside the vehicle. Not only does the gentleman not seem to notice his glasses have been displaced, the look of confusion and lack of recognition could be signs of concussion or a previous medical condition.


After any vehicle incident, whether it was caused by accident or the result of malicious intent, driver and passengers should perform a self-check followed by confirming the status of the people with you (as in a “buddy check”). As seen here, Matthew Brockman of MAST Solutions compares this to condition ACE in a combat situation; A for ammo check and C for casualties. In this case E for equipment check would refer to the drivability of the vehicle.

If you are alone you must perform what is called a self-check.

Feel your body for moisture (bleeding). Press your body parts looking for sore spots. Do you hear a hum or whine indicating hearing loss (which may only be temporary) or concussion. Look at the horizon. Are you dizzy? Are any of your limbs numb? A dull, vibrating pain in the arms or legs may be an indication of fracture.

Just as in a single-car accident, you are going to want to stay inside the car to avoid being hit by oncoming traffic. If the car is in a dangerous position but can be moved, try to do so but avoid positioning your car so that it is blocked in or trapped. Only after you have checked the position of your car and the condition of yourself and your passengers should you check the condition of the driver and occupants of the other vehicle. Again, do so without exiting your vehicle and leave the engine running.

Whether the contact was your fault or not, an argument can ensue. Let them approach you and carefully assess their body language. If they are running towards you and yelling, it’s going to be easy to tell they are angry. Less subtle clues are clenching and loosening their fists, lips pressed together, a flushed face, or long determined steps. Remember that there is no way to communicate with, calm down, or work what some call “verbal judo” on an enraged or intoxicated person.

It may take a few minutes for the consequences to sink in and behavior to change for the worse, so remain in your car with the doors locked. Always maintain a physical barrier between yourself and the other driver. Roll down the window only so much as necessary to speak and trade insurance information.


Whenever someone approaches your car with their fists clenched and upper body coiled, that’s clear body language that their intent may be to commit violence. A continuation of violence after an aggressive driving or road rage incident is to be expected. But even when a minor collision was indeed an accident, the realization of consequences such as repair costs and insurance rates skyrocketing can cause a sudden shift in behavior. Move your vehicle to safety when necessary but stay in the car until police arrive if summoned. Lower the window just enough to communicate until you are sure it is safe.

But if the irate “bumpee” or “bumper” is out of control, don’t count on any insurance information being offered. Document that you stopped and tried to exchange information but the subject was belligerent or drunk and further interaction could not be done safely. You will need a physical description of the driver as well as date, time, and location. Try to get a cell phone photo of their license plate and if possible a video of their behavior and drive off.

If you have a weapon with you such as a gun, it is important to remember that you cannot brandish, threaten, or try to scare someone off with the gun unless you are trapped and fear for your life.

Responding to a Non-Injury Vehicle Accident


Stay in the car with doors locked.

Perform “self-check” for injury.

Move the car if your position is unsafe but do not exit the car.

From inside your car with doors locked observe mood of the other parties.

Watch for telltale signs of aggression.

If the other parties are irate or belligerent:

Photograph or videotape their behavior.

Record their license plate number by photograph if possible.

Use cell phone to call 911 and do not hang up.

If not able to reach 911 operator, pretend you are on the phone with them.

Record the time, date, and place.

Leave the scene if necessary to maintain safety.

Do not brandish a firearm.

Only draw a firearm when you are trapped and in fear for your life.