Aggression boils over all too often on the road. What can you do about it?
First, don’t be the aggressor – if somebody’s driving behaviour gets up your nose, because they appear to be incompetent, inattentive or aggressive, just turn the other cheek. It’s not that hard. Inflaming someone’s anger on the move is not worth the risk, however personally satisfying it might seem in the moment. So, don’t blast others with the horn, flash your lights at them, gesture rudely, shout abuse, or behave in an otherwise offensive manner. You could be putting yourself – and them – at risk by doing so. Good rule of thumb: if a normal person wouldn’t behave like that face-to-face, don’t act that way behind the wheel.
Next, don’t retaliate if somebody vents his anger at you. A wave and a mimed apology aren’t a bad idea if you make a mistake and inconvenience another driver. But if that doesn’t work, and the other driver has clearly become unreasonably angry, don’t respond. Do not become engaged in a game of road-rage one-upmanship. If another driver loses it, don’t respond at all … not even by making eye contact.
If an angry driver drives aggressively towards you, your only job is to insulate yourself from danger. So, if he tailgates you, don’t speed up. Don’t hit the brakes. Slow down gently and look for a place to indicate left and slow down even more to let them past – which is generally what they want anyway. To prove their ‘superiority’.
Above all, if confronted by an angry driver, don’t stop the car and get out. Things only get worse at this point. If the behaviour of the other driver is supremely unreasonable or threatening, or if you think you’re in danger, call the police and tell them your rego number and the rego number of the other car, as well as your location and direction of travel. Alternatively, drive to a police station. Lock the doors and wind the windows up, for security – not a bad idea generally for urban driving.