As the temperature heats up, so do the highways: How to avoid road rage and stay safe on the road this summer

Aggressive drivers are an increasing danger for motorists in the United States. The number of deaths related to road rage incidents has increased tenfold in the last decade. According to The Washington Post, in 2004, road rage contributed to 26 fatalities, but by 2013, the number escalated to 247.

It’s easy to lose your cool when you spend a large amount of time commuting. Add some bickering children in the backseat or excruciatingly slow-moving traffic and you might find yourself seeing red quite quickly. So, we’ve put together some tips to help keep you safe (and as relaxed as possible) on the roadways:

  • Remember that you can’t control another driver’s behavior, but you can control your own. When another driver cuts you off, take a deep breath and remain calm, thereby defusing a potentially violent situation.
  • Obey traffic laws and drive respectfully. Use your turn signals, don’t block the passing lane, don’t speed, and never tailgate.
  • Do not text while driving (it’s against the law and extremely dangerous).
  • Limit phone calls and other distractions.
  • Check traffic reports online. If your usual route seems congested, find a new route that day.
  • Don’t allow yourself to become fatigued while driving. Not only is it dangerous to drive when you are tired, it also increases the likelihood of an emotional outburst.

Some people may not even realize they drive aggressively. Here are several characteristics of aggressive drivers:

  • Tailgating
  • Using the horn often
  • Flashing headlights
  • Changing lanes quickly and often and/or without using turn signals
  • Gesturing to other drivers or communicating in a hostile manner

Some of the above actions may also incite someone who is prone to road rage to act out. It’s always best to be aware of other drivers and take care to drive safely and respectfully. Just as in any situation, manners and patience can go a long way in maintaining civility on the highway.

Road rage is difficult to avoid, but the results can be deadly. While it may be challenging to stay cool in the heat of the moment, do not give in to feelings of anger or rage on the road. Think twice before you honk the horn or behave rudely or aggressively. You never know what may set off the individuals in the cars around you. Getting home safely is vastly more important than attempting to teach someone a lesson.