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4 effective ways to de-escalate road rage

Driving in the Baltimore area can be stressful. After all, you must contend with road construction, other motorists, heavy traffic and changing weather conditions. Unfortunately, though, you may also encounter an irate driver during your morning or evening commute. 

Alarmingly, more than 80% of drivers in a recent survey reported that they had experienced anger or frustration when driving. While gathering reliable statistics on road rage is challenging, many experts believe that aggressive driving is on the rise. If you come across an angry motorist, how you handle the situation matters. Here are four ways to de-escalate road rage effectively: 

1. Decrease your speed 

Sometimes, furious drivers want to yell, gesture wildly or otherwise assert that you have done something wrong. While you cannot control how others act, you can measure your response. As such, if a driver acts aggressively toward you, consider decreasing your speed, changing lanes or taking other steps to remove yourself and your vehicle from the situation. 

2. Wave or nod 

The highway is not the place to try to win an argument. Even if you believe you are driving responsibly, nodding or politely waving to an angry motorist may help keep the encounter both brief and uneventful. Avoiding eye contact may also be beneficial.   

3. Keep your temper 

Road rage often escalates when two drivers lose their tempers. Therefore, take steps to keep your cool. Breathing deeply, focusing on the road or listening to soothing music may help. Certainly, you should not yell, make obscene gestures or otherwise match an aggressive driver’s behavior. 

4. Drive defensively 

Finally, responding to aggressive drivers with defensive driving makes sense. Holding the steering wheel comfortably but firmly, watching your surroundings and preparing yourself to react are good ideas. Further, while it is always wise to avoid distracted driving, doing so when responding to an angry motorist is critical. 

By thinking about your response to road rage before it happens, you can better plan for staying safe behind the wheel. Fortunately, road rage incidents are often brief. That is, if you can get through just a few seconds, the situation is apt to conclude without resulting in a serious injury to anyone.

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