How to avoid the dangers of road rage
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, May 26th 2017
A recent road-rage incident in Saanich has been viewed by tens of thousands on social media and gained top-story status in traditional media.
Both male combatants were caught on video exiting their vehicles and exchanging several punches before bystanders appeared on the scene with the intent of breaking up the confrontation.
Another motorist, stopped in the congested traffic, blasted their horn.
The whole sorry incident begs the question: What do you do in a road rage situation?
There are several stages of behaviour that lead to such occurrences of road rage.
The first stage is a demonstration of displeasure with the action of a fellow driver.
It might be a horn blast, light flash, shout or other gesture witnessed by the targeted driver.
It might very well not even be seen or heard by the driver blamed for the indiscretion.
The second stage might be a physical impediment placed in the path of the targeted driver.
The driver experiencing the road rage might move his or her vehicle in such a way as to impede the targeted vehicle.
The third stage is the act of leaving the vehicle to verbally chastise the offending driver.
A physical confrontation follows.
The fourth stage is a confrontation, which might include the use of a weapon or the vehicle as a battering ram.
If you are the victim of road rage, there are several steps you can take to defuse the situation.
It is best not to rise to the bait. A gesture or offensive words will only inflame the situation.
Avoid eye contact, if possible.
This will defuse any perceived challenge to the enraged motorist.
Sometimes a friendly wave is all that is needed to be seen as an apologetic action.
If there is no automatic locking function in the vehicle you drive, always manually lock the doors when commuting.
Stay in the vehicle. You are much safer there than exposed outside.
If the harassment continues on the street, drive to a police station, fire hall, hospital, mall or anywhere there will be security service.
The natural tendency is to drive home for safety.
It is not a good idea to let a road-rage-possessed driver know where you live.
Do not drive to a dead-end road.
The fact that a cellphone captured the physical confrontation mentioned above is very telling.
This technology is a good deterrent to bad behaviour behind the wheel.
The recording of the incident showed how other motorists were willing to help defuse the situation.
Neither combatant was willing to complain officially, and no charges have been laid.
Apparently, the two combatants are embarrassed by the affair and would rather move on.
If you are threatened in a vehicle, a cellphone may very well be your best defence.
The most important thing to do, if you are a victim of a road rage incident, is to maintain control of your own emotions. Do not overreact.
If at least one person maintains self-control, there is a good possibility of de-escalation.
If you are prone to road rage, take an anger-management course.
There are a lot more important things to get excited about than a traffic incident.