Commuting and the Road Rage Phenomena - 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 9 Commuting and the Road Rage Phenomena

“The enormity of the task of driving is the power of life or death.”

—R. Eckstine

When the famous words “Houston, we have a problem” were uttered by Apollo mission astronauts, NASA technicians went to work solving problems using a computer with the capacity of only 32k of memory (32,000 bits). Never mind today’s smartphone or the Apple watch, technology of the era paled in comparison even to toy-like achievements such as the Casio digital watch. We’ve come a long way in terms of technology, but when it comes to human interaction there are still certain situations that cause us to trip and fall suddenly from the precipice of our modern civilized world into a jungle of chaos. Suddenly finding yourself in the midst of road rage is just such an event.

What is it that makes road rage so alarming? Oftentimes one participant (the aggressor) is fully motivated while the victim is completely surprised. The really odd thing is that road rage is a relatively modern phenomenon. According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report (NHTSA DOT HS 809 707) published in 2004, “Until the final decade of the Twentieth Century, most motorists were comforted by knowing that aggressive driving behavior was infrequent and atypical, and that extreme, confrontational acts were quite rare.”1 What has changed?

According to the office of the Washington State Patrol (the State of Washington’s Highway Patrol), “Society is moving at a faster pace now more than ever. It is possible the increased value of time is causing us to be much more aggressive on the road, especially during commuting hours. Some drivers only see the traffic ahead of them as an obstacle to overcome at any cost. When we couple this with society becoming accustomed to instantaneous communications, the problem becomes more pronounced. Whatever the reasons may be this attitude can place those who share the roadway in jeopardy.”2

Before continuing, we should be aware of two basic definitions as per the NHTSA:

Aggressive Driving

“The commission of two or more moving violations that is likely to endanger other persons or property, or any single intentional violation that requires a defensive reaction of another driver.”3

Road Rage

“An assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of one motor vehicle on the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle caused by an incident that occurred on a roadway.”4

Aggressive driving can lead to road rage but the possibility of the line between the two being blurred is very real. The important distinction between the two is that aggressive driving is a traffic violation and road rage is a criminal offense. Does anyone set out to commit road rage or is it the result of behaviors that are tested and inflamed? Inside the NHTSA report cited above, we learn that “The words, ‘aggressive driving’ emerged during the 1990s as a label for a category of dangerous on-the-road behaviors” and that “aggressive driving occasionally escalates to gesturing in anger or yelling at another motorist, confrontation, physical assault and even murder; ‘Road Rage’ is the label that emerged to describe the angry and violent behaviors at the extreme of the aggressive driving continuum.”5

The aggressive driving continuum is a fancy, if not “sci-fi” sounding term, that in my interpretation suggests that as aggression mounts between two or more drivers, the possibility of crossing the threshold from aggressive driving to that of road rage can increase in a crescendo-like fashion. Better yet, think of the aggressive driving continuum as a speedometer with a driver’s emotions in check on the low end and violent behavior at the other. This illustration is validated by a definition of the word continuum found in Webster’s online dictionary ending with a tag attributed to historian Wayne Shumaker: “good” and “bad” … stand at opposite ends of a continuum instead of describing the two halves of a line.”6 Keeping this in mind, the key to surviving a road rage incident is not to allow your emotions to “peg” the needle on the speedometer and lose control.

How you react to an aggressive driving or road rage confrontation can create a competition between yourself and the other driver. Certainly any action such as flipping off the other driver is going to send the needle on the continuum meter zooming. This is easily understood. But what are some of the conditions of everyday life that set us up for overreacting due to anger or anxiety just below the surface of our composure?

When it comes to “the increased value of time causing us to be much more aggressive on the road,” being delayed has become a big issue and so has invasion of privacy. Phone and internet connection may very well be reducing both our attention span and setting us up for failure in situations that call for patience. Add to this the fact that today’s automobiles do everything they can to accommodate the driver and insulate them from the environment, perhaps causing us to become territorial while driving, as if we’re riding around in our own little castles. The prevalence of air conditioning means that we drive with windows rolled up, reducing the sensation of speed and removing much of the ability of the driver to hear the vehicles around us, especially when they are approaching from the rear. It’s no wonder that many road rage or aggressive driving incidents begin with vastly different interpretations of what’s needed to safely negotiate traffic. One driver might think flashing their lights or sounding the horn is doing the other driver a favor, but another driver takes such warnings as an insult or a challenge. In the end, there are certain behaviors that leave you open to attracting the attention of drivers that are on the edge emotionally and looking to take out whatever problem they have in their personal lives on whoever seems vulnerable at the time.

One study of the causation of aggressive driving that was not commissioned by the government but instead by a private entity comes to us from Expedia, a company well-known on the Internet that offers discounts related to the travel industry. John Morrey, Vice President and General Manager of says, “Expedia rents millions of cars to Americans, so we set out to learn what behaviors on the open road are most welcome, and what behaviors most aggravating. The rule, as with airplanes and hotels, is that shared spaces demand decorum and attentiveness.”7 According to this report ranked as the most “annoying or offensive” driving behaviors are the following:

The Texter (drivers who text, e-mail, or talk on a phone while driving): 69%,

The Tailgater (drivers who follow others far too closely): 60%,

The Multi-tasker (applying makeup, eating, reading, etc.): 54%,

The Drifter (either straddling two lanes or weaving between them): 43%,

The Crawler (driving well below the speed limit): 39%,

The Swerver (failing to signal before changing lanes or turning): 38%,

The Left-Lane Hog (drivers who occupy the passing lane without moving): 32%,

The Inconsiderate (those who do not let others merge): 30%,

The Speeder (driving well past the speed limit at length): 27%,

The Honker (drivers who slam the horn at will): 18%,

The Unappreciative (drivers who do not give a wave or gesture of thanks): 13%, and

The Red Light Racer (drivers who inch ever closer to the light when red): 12%.8

If you have ever engaged in any of the above behaviors, you are sure to have drawn the ire of other drivers at one time or another. The Expedia study points out that distraction is the most infuriating behavior but it is easy to cure. The first step to avoid being distracted is to take on the attitude that when you are driving it is your job to drive and you owe it to your “customers” to follow a code of conduct. When I was a professional driver for hire, I didn’t try to buddy up with my fares on passenger trips. I set the tone at introduction saying, “My name is Roger and I will be providing safe transport for you and your guests.” This meant I would take on the responsibility of protecting them from the dangers inherent to driving among less-qualified and unpredictable operators.

Unfortunately, the time people spend in the day driving between destinations is often looked upon as downtime or being wasteful. But it wasn’t always so. Years ago, salesmen enjoyed the ride between calls. Being inside an automobile meant they were unavailable. Then the pager came on the scene. Today they wouldn’t think of just sitting behind the wheel without checking e-mail or making a phone call. Somehow, the availability of social media seems to have made being out of contact undesirable. Technology not only tempts us to divide our attention but trains us that multitasking is appropriate for every waking moment. Maybe it’s gotten to the point where everyone who has a driver’s license should be issued a chauffeur’s cap and ordered to wear it every time they drive so they can be reminded to make driving their first priority as if it was a job. Approaching even the shortest trip as a professional driver will make you more vigilant and a safer all-around driver.

Choosing Routes to Avoid Confrontation

As a commuter you most likely take the same route to and from work with little variation. The same goes for running regular errands to the supermarket or gasoline station, etc. Have you chosen the safest route? If you travel roads with higher speed limits, does your route require you to cross oncoming traffic in order to turn into a parking lot or change directions? Does the route require you to make a U-turn or perform a sudden merge in a short amount of time or distance? Are you ever forced to make a decision when to cross oncoming traffic or is there another place to turn that is controlled by a traffic light? Is there any intersection or point of yield that repeatedly contributes to an inordinate amount of traffic accidents? After just a few trips to and from on your daily commute to work or shopping, you should be well-aware of trouble spots along the route that might cause you to have a close call or disagreement with another driver.

Reducing Stress to Short-circuit Aggression

Most of the advice coming from official sources focuses on how to avoid being engaged in an aggressive driving or road rage incident has to do with creating a stress-free environment resulting in a non-competitive atmosphere. Widely recognized safety tips include the following:

1. Allow plenty of time for the trip, listen to soothing music, improve the comfort in your vehicle, and understand that you cannot control the traffic, only your reaction to it.

2. In the end, we may very well discover that personal frustration, anger, and impatience may be the most dangerous “drugs” on the highway.

3. Be polite and courteous, even if the other driver is not. Avoid all conflict if possible.

4. When entering traffic or changing lanes, make sure you have enough room.

5. Make sure you have established a safe following distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

6. Signal when turning or changing lanes.

7. Put yourself in the other driver’s shoes. They may be driving that way because of an actual emergency!

As with most advice and written law, the above was designed primarily for law-abiding citizens in a normal mindset free of agitation. The problem is that aggressive driving that can lead to road rage is the result of a highly-charged emotional state of mind. Allowing plenty of time is good advice but don’t allow yourself to be spoiled. Soothing music and comfort are great for quieting the mind, but try turning off the judgmental portion of your mind. As a day shift yellow cab driver in New York City, I expected the worst-possible traffic to be beyond my imagination. In the midst of questionable actions by other drivers, concentrate on remaining vigilant; operate the car as necessary but with a sense of always waiting and watching.

I like the reference to personal frustration, anger, and impatience being maybe the most dangerous “drugs” on the highway. You wouldn’t think of downing a fifth of vodka and driving home would you? Then don’t drive when agitated. Nor would you go to work just so you could punch your boss in the face, would you? Think of driving as a job you don’t want to lose.

The list continues:

8. If another driver challenges you, take a deep breath and move out of the way.

9. Never underestimate the other driver’s capacity for mayhem.

10. Don’t make aggressive hand gestures to other drivers.

11. Control your anger; remember it takes two to start a fight.

12. Avoid prolonged eye contact with a bad or angry driver.

13. Get help. Call police on your cell phone or go to a public telephone or place. Don’t pull to the side of the road.

14. Forget about winning. No one wins in a highway crash.

With the exception of tip number 13, tips 8 through 14 deal with mindset. It all goes back to being vigilant to the brink of detachment. Doing what needs to be done without emotion. But how do you not get upset when someone is being aggressive? You remain vigilant and implement sensible, planned actions. The parallel between surviving a criminal attack such as road rage to fighting in the ring or in the Octagon is worthwhile if you are willing to learn from professional fighters. On the professional level, emotion has very little to do with winning a fight. Sure, we see fighters calling each other out with insults and challenges before the fists fly but that’s just to entice more people watch the fight. Once inside the ropes the process is much more cerebral.

Probably the most famous quote regarding a fighter’s ability to think and apply skills without the distraction of emotion comes from martial arts icon Bruce Lee in the 1973 film Enter the Dragon. Nose to nose with a menacing competitor, Lee is asked, “What’s your style?” He calmly answers, “My style? You can call it the art of fighting without fighting.” In real-life professional mixed martial arts (MMA), fighter Daniel Weichel of Germany came within seconds of earning a title but was knocked out just when it looked like he would complete a masterful win. A veteran of more than professional fights, Weichel revealed the depth of his own wisdom by telling reporters in a subsequent interview that the reason he had lost was, “I got too emotional. I lost my cool. And I paid the price.” In much the same way a fighter can be distracted by emotion, anyone thinking of getting back at another driver for being cut off will likely miss their chance to escape and be in danger of the event spiraling out of control.

Choose the Proper Lane

Not every incident of aggressive driving is caused by poor mindset or bad behavior. Sometimes managing your driving to fit the road can itself prevent close calls.

What we’re looking to avoid is unnecessary interaction, especially those that can frustrate, surprise, or unintentionally threaten another driver. This starts with reducing the possibility of a collision or close call. Anytime you are on a road with two or more lanes in your direction of travel, use the following to dictate your choice of lane. Let’s start with how you prioritize the lanes on a highway with three lanes in each direction. The lane closest to the shoulder should be for entry and exit from the flow of traffic. The center lane is for maintaining a steady speed and is where you should spend most of your travel time. The inside lane or the lane closest to oncoming traffic is for passing. Here’s why.

The outer lane (the lane closest the shoulder) is also the lane that is directly up against the flow of traffic from streets that run into the highway. There are also driveways and exits from parking lots that are necessarily positioned on the right-hand edge of the outer lane. Anyone entering the highway is going to be turning into this lane. This means they will initially be going much slower than you and when they are in the process of turning they will be looking away from you as they do so. If you are cruising in the outer lane you will be subject to multiple slowdowns as cars turn on to the highway. This will raise your frustration level. Traveling in the outer lane repeatedly puts you directly in the path of other drivers making decisions based on your speed and on their own building sense of urgency that they have to get going on the way to their destination. By cruising in the outer lane, you are in danger because cars will be constantly cutting in front of you. This is frustrating for you and for anyone trying to merge with traffic. When you travel in the outside lane you are increasing the probability of interaction with other drivers under stress.

The inside lane (the lane closest to the opposite flow of traffic) is best used for passing. I could add that you could use this lane for excessive speed but that would be irresponsible. Nevertheless, we all know that people exceed the speed limit all the time, so even if you are traveling at the speed limit expect to be passed by other cars. For maintaining a steady speed, choose the center lane.

When traveling on a highway with two lanes in each direction, it is still wise to choose the inside lane for passing and maintaining a steady speed. Drive the speed limit and check your rearview mirrors for anyone coming up behind you. If your rearview and sideview mirrors are properly set, they should be easily visible via peripheral vision. If you see someone speeding up behind you, immediately put on your right side turn signal to indicate you are willing to get out of the way. Here is the crucial moment. Be prepared to wait after activating the turn signal and look for signs that the driver coming up behind you has acknowledged your offer to move over. This would be indicated by a noticeable reduction in speed on their part. What you must avoid is moving over quickly. Even if you activate your blinker without acknowledgement from the other driver, this can be taken as cutting him off. Unless the signal for change of lane has been acknowledged, you will likely suffer an emotional overreaction based on the frustration of “Hey, I signaled I was getting out of the way.” Then you would be competing, pitting your frustration against the other driver.

Blowing the Horn

Blowing the horn is another source of irritation that can lead to an aggressive response from other drivers. It’s difficult to argue that it’s necessary to blow the horn reflexively to avoid collision, but there are times when it is used more as an expression of frustration than as a signal in an emergency. A good example of how using the horn can get you in trouble is when the light turns green and the delay before moving is perceived as being too long. Let’s look at this from more than one side.

Ideally, everyone waiting at the light should take on an attitude governed first and foremost by safety. When the light turns green, it doesn’t necessarily mean traffic in the other directions has come to a halt. There is always someone who will try to get through even when the yellow or amber light, which is supposed to warn drivers that the green light period is about to end, has been showing for some time and the red light will likely appear before they can cross the intersection. This is often the result of inattention by drivers but in many cases simply a matter of ego. A famous story told by Indianapolis 500 legend Bobby Unser describes being interviewed by a reporter as they rode through his hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bobby was bragging about how he and his brother Al, also a legendary racer, considered themselves so famous and untouchable in the city of Albuquerque they never bothered to stop for a red light because there wasn’t a cop in town that would give them a ticket. To his surprise, the writer suddenly jammed on the brakes before the very next light. The writer explained, “What if Al is coming from the other direction?” Expect people to run red lights even right in front of you. That’s what drivers do. Wait for it, look for it, and maybe even keep count of how often it happens just for amusement. Do anything but get angry about it.

When it comes to stoplights, the key to not developing an adversarial relationship that can lead to road rage is to build in a degree of patience. I have sometimes been guilty of treating the stoplight as if it were the “Christmas tree” or “go” lights at a drag strip. Here’s how I overcame my quick trigger impulse to blow the horn. Hold the steering wheel with your hands some distance from the pressure point that sounds the horn. When the light changes, tap your fingers on the steering wheel to expend the nervous energy. This will give you enough time to decide (rather than act via reflex) whether or not it’s really necessary to blow the horn. The driver at the head of the line (who by the way has the best view of crossing traffic) should be prepared to react to the green light in much the same way. Give it a time-out. Taking an extra second to check for a clear intersection can save lives. And again, any time you can avoid a near miss you’re preventing the opportunity for emotions to trigger an incident of road rage.

Blowing the horn reflexively in reaction to a dangerous situation can be just as provocative as leaning on the horn and menacing every driver that gets in your way. But we’ve all done it and justifiably so. How many times has the other driver thanked you? See if you can identify with the driver in the following interview conducted in November of 2015. The name is fictitious but the incident is not.

RE: What time of day was it when the incident began?

Laura: Oh, it was daylight. About 3:30 p.m. last August. I remember how hot it was so naturally I had the windows up and the air conditioner running.

RE: What kind of car were you driving?

Laura: A Lincoln sedan. It’s a big car, the kind they used to make.

RE: Who was with you?

Laura: I was by myself.

RE: How did it happen?

Laura: It was where Highway 36 merges with 59.

RE: Go on.

Laura: It’s where two lanes go to one in each direction. There’s also a center lane for turning left. What I mean is the right-hand lane continues straight but the inside lane turns into a left turn only lane so anyone in the left-hand lane has to merge from the center lane over a very short distance. It comes up really suddenly.

RE: So you had to swerve into the right-hand lane?

Laura: No. I was in the right-hand lane all along. All of sudden a car came up fast on my left and cut me off to get in front of me. I gave him a quick horn.

RE: What did the driver look like?

Laura: A young male driving a small blue sedan.

RE: What did he do next?

Laura: He slowed down to about 20 mph. We (meaning all the cars behind me) had been going about 50 mph so he was holding up a line of cars, not just me.

RE: Did he slow to a stop or try to stop short in front of you?

Laura: No. He pulled into the turn lane and signaled to make a left turn.

RE: So you thought it was over.

Laura: Before I could think anything, he came back to the right to cut me off.

He got right beside me and pushed me over.

RE: Did he hit your car?

Laura: No. I got out of his way but had to leave the shoulder to do it. Then he let me in front of him so I accelerated to get away but he kept pace. He tried to hit me and then he left.

RE: Were you armed?

Laura: Yes. My gun was in my purse beside me on the seat.

RE: What kind of gun did you have with you?

Laura: A Smith & Wesson 642. [Note: It is a small five-shot revolver with lightweight alloy frame chambered for .38 Special ammunition.]

RE: Would you have been able to get the gun out?

Laura: I had the gun in the zipper pocket that runs along the side. It’s not actually a concealed-carry type purse but I did have the gun pointed forward in the proper direction.

RE: Meaning?

Laura: Facing forward. So I could access it directly with a shooting grip.

RE: Did you access the gun?

Laura: No, but I didn’t want him beside me. I thought to myself [that] if he gets beside me like window to window or continued to pursue me I was going to take it out.

RE: Did you call 911 during or after the incident?

Laura: I was too busy. And after he left, I watched for him to return all the way home. I was hyped up for long time after.

RE: How long do you think the incident lasted?

Laura: Well, I’m pretty sure we averaged a mile a minute (60 mph). Seemed like three or four minutes. But the next time I went down that way, the distance from where it first started to where I exited wasn’t that far at all. So I really don’t know. One thing’s for sure.

RE: What’s that?

Laura: I relive it every time I go through that intersection.

The incident was triggered when Laura sounded the car horn in response to the perpetrator aggressively cutting in front of her. Sounding the horn was an understandable, if not instinctive, reaction. But instead of taking it as a warning of a possible collision, the other driver perceived it as an act of aggression. Certainly, anyone looking for a fight or at least some way to prove a point is ripe for being aggravated to the point of aggression, but this could also be explained as predatory behavior. This goes with the tough self image or “machismo” often cited in reports profiling the character of aggressive drivers. Such drivers are difficult to spot because until the predator on the highway strikes, their car looks like any other. In effect, they are camouflaged until the action of driving aggressively distinguishes their presence.

Whereas Laura felt that sounding the car horn was an act of assertion, the predatory personality may very well have interpreted it as a sign of fear, feeding his aggression. Studies show that women and older, weaker-looking people are more often the targets of road rage. Add to this the fact that Laura was driving a big car that, despite being an older model, could still be seen as a sign of wealth. If this sounds far-fetched, note that studies such as the Mizell report prepared for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety that studied some ten thousand reported cases of road rage offers the following: “The car is symbolic in many ways, regardless of its owner’s perception of it.”9 In addition, it is not uncommon to find sentiments of class warfare, lower income versus the affluent, to also play a part according to several studies.

As the incident progressed, there were several opportunities for it to spiral out of control. First of all, let’s consider whether this was a case of aggressive driving, which is a traffic violation, or did it rise to the level of criminal offense? Under the law, it would be at the very least reckless driving unless it could be proven that the other driver had used the car as a weapon. Indeed he had, but since Laura’s car was not damaged, proof of what would amount, to a charge of aggravated assault (assault with a deadly weapon) would depend on an eyewitness account, or if Laura had video evidence such as from a dashboard-mounted camera. If she had not been alone, her passenger might have been able to photograph or even videotape the incident using a smart phone.

Road rage is among the most underreported of all crimes and probably the least likely to be thwarted by police intervention. Because both victim and perpetrator are traveling in moving vehicles, not only is the location of the crime constantly in flux but the complainant has their hands full trying to drive. Unless the incident results in a traffic accident or assault resulting in injury or death, the victim is often thankful just to get away. Disengaging or separating from the aggressor is the best antidote. But this necessarily requires distance and leaving the scene of the crime. As a result, it’s difficult to collect or provide evidence. All of these factors contribute to the underreporting of road rage incidents and frustration for the police as well as victims.

That Laura did have a firearm, a weapon of projection that would make it less likely he would be able to get his hands on her and use his (assumed) superior physical strength, probably gave her additional confidence and helped her to keep calm and formulate a plan. With the gun still in her purse, she nevertheless positioned it on the seat next to her in a manner that exposed the grip for a quick draw. It would have been preferable for the gun to be fixed in a body-mounted holster or one attached to the interior of the car rather than in her purse. This would assure that if the aggressor had driven her off the road and there was a rough ride or a spinout, the gun would not be flung across the interior and out of reach. Being driven off the road might well have disabled her car, and at such point the gun would have been her last means of defense.

In my view, Laura and the aggressive driver were either at two different positions on the continuum or both he and Laura were on two entirely different “tracks” as it were. It wasn’t a case when one driver said, “I’ll show you” and the other driver said, “No, I’ll show you,” serving to escalate the aggression. One driver was looking to attack and the other was defending. One displayed emotionally driven acts of aggression but the other did not answer a shove off the road with shoving back. Laura’s response to her emotion (fear) was to plan a defense. If the aggressive driver was moving towards the bad end of the continuum, Laura wasn’t moving with him and acting recklessly without thought. She set up boundaries (“If he gets beside me like window to window or continued to pursue me I was going to take it out”). She hung in there and watched to see if the boundaries were crossed. If the horn did indeed make the predator’s mouth water, he soon learned that while the driver was scared, she wasn’t scared enough to give in. This leads us to insights on maintaining enough composure to avoid responding with reckless, competitive actions.

Composure Maintenance Skills

It is important to recognize that emotions such as fear and anger are a product of the reactive mind. But our actions in response to fear and anger are controlled by the cognitive mind. Can you control your actions even when you’re afraid or angry? The answer is yes, and most of us do it all the time. For example, think back to the last time you were pulled over for speeding. Did you physically or verbally attack the police officer for ruining your day? No, because you knew it was in your best interest to maintain your composure.

Surviving an attack or assault of any kind begins with implementing “composure maintenance skills.” In an earlier example, we referenced how a professional fighter had lost an important bout because he had “lost his cool.” Somehow, the fight had gone beyond his level of composure-maintenance skills. Indeed, one of the traditional reasons why teenagers take up the sport of boxing is that they are always getting into fights at school and in the street. Does boxing in a controlled environment simply help them blow off steam or is there more to it?

Boxing gyms are full of tough kids who formerly got into a lot of trouble. In the gym they are taught sophisticated skills, but more importantly how and when to use them. In the street their fights were powered by raw emotion. Once in training, these same fighters learn to maintain their composure and look for openings to apply their strengths to maximum benefit. For many delinquent youths, being properly coached might be the first time in their lives they’ve been able to recognize in themselves and appreciate their own ability to learn.

It is important to trust your ability to learn how to maintain your composure. We all have disappointments and stress in our lives. Use these smaller, less-lethal confrontations to practice your composure-maintenance skills. Once you develop the habit of responding immediately with your cognitive mind you will be less likely to meet danger with actions controlled by emotion.

Finally, let’s hear from the front lines in public safety. The following insights and tips come not from government or commercial studies but from a panel of road cops, uniformed personnel that spend more time driving on their jobs than just about any other profession. Some of the officers were fine with having their names and departments mentioned and others were restricted or otherwise too modest. My policy was for the vote to be unanimous when it comes to naming names, so we will continue by crediting the following to those who wish only to do their jobs without the need for greater recognition.

Preemptive Behavioral Response to Aggressive Driving and Road Rage

Allow plenty of time.

Take routes that you are familiar with.

Identify possible trouble spots such as sudden merges and short exits.

Avoid U-turns and turning across traffic without the aid of a traffic light.

Choose the lane best suited to your speed.

Choose lanes that avoid merging traffic.

Do not speed or tailgate.

Use the horn only in an emergency.

In Response to Aggressive Driving and Road Rage:

Do not answer any provocation with provocative action of your own.

This includes aggressive maneuvers on your part or hand gestures.

Maintain a wait and watch mindset.

Think of it as an opportunity to practice your composure maintenance skills.

Look for an opportunity to separate.

Use your turn signal and move to the right.

Let them get in front of you.

It is always better to slow down than to get ahead.

Speeding up induces a chase or crash.

If the other person slows down, get on the phone, even if you are just pretending to call 911.

Call 911 and do not hang up no matter what happens, even if you have to put the phone down.

Don’t go where you were planning to go.

Find a safe place to go such as:

Police station

Fire station

A well-lit parking lot with plenty of witnesses Never stop your car.