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Road Rage: Keep your cool and keep your distance

By Attorney Truman Griffith

Every driver has likely experienced some level of aggravation behind the wheel. Similarly, every driver has likely been the target of another driver's aggravation when operating a motor vehicle. In some cases, that aggravation turns to rage and motor vehicle crashes and serious injuries can result. Over the years, I have been involved in numerous cases where road rage incidents have resulted in injuries to my clients. In a recent case, my client has alleged that a raging driver, who was upset with the speed that she was travelling on the interstate, passed her and slammed on his brakes in front of her. While the alleged raging driver was able to speed off, what ensued behind him was a pileup of cars that resulted in numerous injuries. In some cases of road rage, crashes are simply unavoidable, but there are certain things you can do to keep yourself and your family safe from the raging driver.

First, keep your distance. The moment you recognize that there might be a problem with a driver in your vicinity (whether they are tailgating, driving erratically, arguing with someone in their vehicle or are just upset with you for being on the highway at the same time they are), simply get away from the driver. That advice may seem obvious but we have all been involved in these situations when we feel invincible because we are behind the wheel of a 4,000 lb. vehicle, so we allow ourselves to become engaged with someone we have never met and will likely never see again for the rest of our lives. Why is it so important to us to get back in front of that driver that just cut us off? The bottom line: it's not. And the quicker you avoid the other driver, the less likely it is that you will allow yourself to become negatively engaged with him or her.

Second, keep your cool. Don't allow yourself to become the raging driver you complain about. Remember what is really important to you in your life (many times he or she is in that car seat in the backseat of your car), and don't let yourself get too upset if someone pulls into your lane or cuts you off. If you are driving on the interstate, sometimes a quick stop at the Rest Area can allow you to take a deep breath and allow the moment to pass. If someone pulls into your lane, tailgates you, drives too slow in front of you or just annoys you for whatever reason, keep your cool and don't let it ruin your day (or your life.)

In recent months, stories of shootings and other violence as a result of road rage incidents have been common place in the news. In April, former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith was shot and killed in a case of road rage by a man who had rear-ended his car. Remember that you don't know who is in that other vehicle or what they are capable of, so keep your distance and keep your cool, and get yourself and your family home safe. You can find more tips on how to avoid road rage at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

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