What to do if you’re a victim of road rage
You're walking along the pavement, head down, in your own world and you accidently step in front of someone. Whoops. You both apologise (several times), smile and awkwardly shuffle past each other, forgetting it even happened. End scene.
Unfortunately, in a car, this situation can play out very differently.
We've all witnessed road rage of some kind, or worse, been on the receiving end of it - and it's pretty horrible. Whether it was caused by driver error, competitiveness or just general impatience, recognising road rage will help you stay cool, calm and - most importantly - safe on the roads.
Ask any driver and you can bet they've experienced this: other drivers driving WAY too close. Why does this happen? Well, apart from the other driver having a bad day, it usually comes down to impatience; an attempt to force you to speed up or move out the way.
It could be that the driver hasn't left enough time to get to their appointment, so they're rushing. It could be that they're trying to intimidate you because they've decided they don't like the look of you or your car (ridiculous, but possible). Or, it could just be that they need to revisit the Highway Code (or a book on etiquette).
Whatever their reasons for behaving like a bully - you need to know how to deal with it.
Firstly, the obvious one is to stay calm. Don't give in to the pressure and react aggressively else you're simply encouraging the behaviour. Keep calm, don't let yourself get wound up and take a few deep breaths.
Maintain your driving style
Secondly, don't change how you drive. If the other driver's goal is to make you speed up - don't. Sticking to the speed limit shows Mr Stress-Head that you're not going to break the law so he can get home in time for the MasterChef finals.
Remember: if you're working towards a good driving discount you have even more of a reason not to let a tailgater affect how you drive.
Focus on the road ahead
When someone is driving with their nose in your exhaust it's easy to fixate on your rear mirror because you're trying to suss out the driver and you're anxious they're going to hit you. Focusing on the road in front will help you ignore their behaviour and eventually they will get the hint that you're not going to react.
If you find you're still bothered by tailgaters, send us a tweet, Facebook message or email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll post you an ingenie car sticker that tells people you have a black box. It may not change other drivers' behaviour but it will make you feel better that you've done what you can.
Insults and rude gestures
The classic image of road rage is other drivers swearing and generally getting a bit too animated. There's not much you can do about this except ignore. Don't be tempted to lower yourself to their level by responding.
Remember sticks and stones? Well, as lame as that sounds, it's true. A few strong words from a stranger can't physically hurt you and you can always mutter a few choice words of your own to make yourself feel better - once you're well out the way.
Revving and beeping
Slightly higher on the irritation scale but still one to ignore. If the driver behind wants to waste their energy (and fuel) acting like a hot-headed bull behind the wheel - let them. Using their car to try and intimidate you is illegal and hopefully karma will take care of them.
Threats and physical aggression
Upping the anti slightly - this is where it gets a bit more serious. Violent road rage incidents are rare but as soon as the situation feels like it's escalating, the best thing to do is drive away safely or pull over when you can.
If you think you're in a seriously dangerous situation call the police immediately from inside your car. It's not illegal to use your phone if it's an emergency.
Don't be tempted to open your window or get out the car.
If the other driver is following you, get yourself to an area where there are lots of people around. A petrol station or somewhere where there's CCTV is a good idea so that you can call the police from inside your car and feel reassured that their behaviour is being filmed.
If you have a passenger in the car, they can act as a witness for you and speak to the police on your behalf if you're a bit shaken up. If they were able to capture any evidence while you were driving that will also help the police to track down the person responsible.
However, your safety comes first so focusing on recording evidence should not be your focus.
Don't dwell on it
All of these experiences can leave an impact on you as a driver and although it's easier said than done - you can't dwell on them. The majority of drivers don't want to get into an altercation and would prefer to get to their destination safely and without drama.
If you do come across a less-than-obliging driver, be the bigger person, put it behind you, and get on with enjoying the road.
Katey Joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of all things social and content. She passed her driving test in 2015 and her first car is a Toyota Yaris T3 named Tyrone.