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Jun 17, 2008

Surefire Signs of Road Rage

Consider this: Americans spend 100 hours a year commuting but take only 80 hours of vacation annually. Is it any wonder that many of us have road rage? Even so, road rage isn't acceptable. Aggressive driving, which includes speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, and not paying full attention to the road, puts many people at risk. Learn how to spot the signs of road rage and help keep you and your passengers safe.

Speeding. Excessive speed is the most obvious form of road rage. It's also incredibly dangerous. Speed causes one-third of all traffic fatalities. In addition, the likelihood of having a crash that causes injury or death doubles for every 10 miles per hour faster than 50 mph that a car travels.

Tailgating. Aggressive tailgating was the most commonly reported form of road rage, with 62 percent of respondents saying someone had followed them excessively closely. Interestingly, only 6 percent admitted to having tailgated another driver.

3. Gesturing. Using or returning obscene gestures is risky.Obscene gestures have gotten at least one person stabbed, beaten, or shot in every state.

4. Weaving/changing lanes. Changing lanes suddenly and without a signal is dangerous at any time, but especially in traffic. Remember, speeding reduces your ability to steer around other objects on the road, including other cars.

5. Honking. This annoyance does more than just provoke road rage; many cities-including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and New York City-have laws in place that prohibit excessive honking.

6. Braking suddenly. You make think you're teaching a tailgating driver a lesson, but the FMCSA warns that braking unexpectedly can be seen as confrontational and lead to more aggressive driving.

7. Flashing lights. Drivers who admitted to driving aggressively were most likely to say they had flashed their lights at a fellow motorist.

8. Leering/Staring. The FMCSA recommends avoiding eye contact with an aggressive driver and driving to the nearest police station if you feel threatened.

9. Yelling. Yelling and screaming often escalate the problem. Even if the other drivers are unable to hear you, it's easy for them to see that you're yelling, which could have the same consequences.

10. Attacking. More 10,000 instances of road rage were studied, and of those, a gun, knife, or other weapon was used 4,400 times. Often, the attacker used his or her vehicle as a weapon as well. Famously, actor Jack Nicholson once attacked someone who had cut him off in traffic with a golf club.