Driving lessons and road rage

Thirty years ago it was just starting to be recognised in the USA. Now road rage is a growing problem around the world as roads get more congested and cars more powerful. Recently, a survey conducted by ingenie in June 2012 revealed that two thirds of drivers said they had been the victim of road rage at some point within the previous 12 months. 85% of those who took part in the survey admitted to behaviour within this period that could be indicative of road rage.

In the USA the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines road rage as: “an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or an assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway.” The law in the UK does not have a specific definition for what constitutes a road rage offence.

This means if a driver does succumb to road rage and is arrested the charge can vary depending on the actions taken by the road rager. If they got out of their vehicle and assaulted another driver then they could be charged with assault or bodily harm. Another possible charge against a driver who acted on their road rage could be under the Public Order Act 1986 if it can be demonstrated that they caused harassment, alarm or distress in others due to their rage.

Many accidents, and incidents of ‘road rage’, are the direct result of inappropriate and unsociable attitudes exhibited by some drivers. Learner drivers and new drivers require more patience than other motorists on the road because they have less experience and might be slower to react to changes in traffic. Unfortunately those who have a habit of losing their temper behind the wheel are not known for granting other road users much patience.

If you find yourself a victim of road rage SmartDriving reminds you not to take it personally: “Their actions are not a personal attack on you – it’s just that they can’t cope with their own emotions very well.” Unless the situation escalates and requires hospital and/or court attention, you are unlikely to see the enraged driver again. So whilst the incident might be upsetting it will probably only be momentary.

Try not to allow an aggressive driver to intimidate or upset you and allow them to pull away. By doing this you are taking control of the situation. If you are at fault be sure to apologise by holding up your hand, this can often diffuse a situation. Keep a good amount of space between other cars in order to give yourself room to drive away from a dangerous situation. If you think you are being followed try to drive to a well lit area or police station. Try to get the number plate of the driver that is trying to intimidate you.

During your driving lessons in Brighton and Hove a strong emphasis is put into considering driving as a social activity so if you are the person that is starting to get angry at other road users try to see the situation from their point of view. Almost everyone on the road is in a hurry and has places to get to – that’s why they are there! If it is getting to much find a safe space to pull over until you feel more relaxed and ready to continue your journey.

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