Seven Tips on How to Avoid Road Rage as 38 Million Americans are Expected to Drive on Memorial Day Weekend

G reater than 38 million Americans — approximately 700,000 more people than last year — will travel this Memorial Day weekend, which would be the second-highest travel volume on record for Memorial Day and the most since 2005, according to this article from the NewsRoom of the American Automobile Association.

Of that number, roughly 89 percent — or approximately 34 million people — will drive.

The main reason cited is due to the lowest gasoline prices in eleven years — even though fuel prices are the highest that they have been in the past six months — but the lines at airport security checkpoints being significantly longer than normal have exacerbated the decision to travel by air as an airline passenger and instead take on a road trip.

Regardless of the long lines, air travel is expected to increase by 1.6 percent over last year, with 2.6 million Americans expected to be airline passengers this coming Memorial Day.

Conversely, travel by other modes of transportation — including cruises, trains and buses — is expected to decrease by 2.3 percent, to 1.6 million travelers.

More Drivers Means More Traffic — and More Road Rage

The results of the 2016 Road Rage Report — a study and annual analysis of driving etiquette in the United States, which is now in its third year — was released earlier this week from Expedia and conducted by GfK, which is an independent global market research company that gathered the opinions of greater than 1,000 American drivers; and the 12 least popular American drivers are as follows:

  1. The Texter 22 percent
  2. The Tailgater 14 percent
  3. The Last-Minute Line-Cutter 13 percent
  4. The Left-Lane Hog 11 percent
  5. The Crawler 8 percent
  6. The Multitasker 8 percent
  7. The Swerver 8 percent
  8. The Speeder 5 percent
  9. The Drifter 5 percent
  10. The Honker 3 percent
  11. The Inconsiderate 2 percent
  12. The Red Light Racer 1 percent

Common Misbehavior by Motorists

The most common misbehavior by motorists — as witnessed by a designated percentage of drivers in the United States — is as follows:

  1. Weaving in and out of traffic 80 percent
  2. Dangerous speeding 77 percent
  3. Multitasking 76 percent
  4. Being “cut off” 73 percent
  5. Aggressive tailgating 68 percent

Worst Road Rage by Region

Of the 25 American cities listed in the aforementioned study, Portland, Oregon, was deemed most courteous, cited by only one percent of respondents to the survey; while the second most courteous city was Minneapolis-Saint Paul at two percent…

…but drivers in the following regions exhibited what is considered the worst road rage:

  1. New York City 43 percent
  2. Los Angeles 30 percent
  3. Chicago 16 percent

Other Findings

Believe it or not, respondents to the aforementioned survey have reported having:

  1. Been on the receiving end of a “rude or hostile hand gesture 48 percent
  2. Claimed to have been involved in — or nearly involved in — an accident due to an inattentive driver 45 percent
  3. Had other motorists and passengers yell or curse at them 35 percent
  4. Felt “physically threatened” by another driver 20 percent
  5. Called the police to report the behavior of a fellow driver 19 percent
  6. Been accosted by a driver who exited his or her vehicle 13 percent
  7. Been involved in a physical altercation with another driver 9 percent

Intolerable Behavior by Fellow Passengers in Your Vehicle

Greater than 61 percent of respondents to the aforementioned survey cited backseat driving as the “most offensive” behavior their co-passengers exhibit; followed by the passengers who will not help navigate; “reluctant co-pilots” at 11 percent; and “the radio hog” at nine percent. “The snoozer” was cited by six percent of survey respondents as an offensive co-passenger, and five percent called out “the shoeless.”

The “shoeless”? Where is that worse — aboard an airplane or inside of a car?!?

Seven Tips on How to Avoid Road Rage

Before reading the seven tips on how to avoid road rage, please be sure to watch this video pertaining to aggressive driving enforcement in the state of Washington.

When tempers flare, road rage can get the best of many people and lead to actions — and even violence — which can easily be avoided. Road rage is the result of confrontation; and here are seven ways to avoid it.

  1. Do not acknowledge aggressive people — especially if they are seeking to engage in a confrontation with you. Attempt to ignore them and extricate yourself from the scene before a situation develops. Do not honk your horn or gesture at other people while driving in a tense situation, as your gestures can be misinterpreted as hostile.
  2. Drive safely and carefully. Following the rules of the road is the best way to ensure safety for you and your passengers — as well as having as pleasant a trip as possible. Ensure that you are awake and received plenty of sleep or rest. Your line of sight should be as clear as possible, so be sure that your windows are clean in order to heighten awareness as to what is going on around you. Keep distractions at a minimum — such as eating or talking on the telephone — as they can cause road rage in fellow drivers if you affect them. Better yet, avoid distractions altogether and concentrate on your driving.
  3. Be courteous, considerate and polite. So what if that driver ahead of you wants to get in front of you? Let him or he do so. How much time are you really going to lose, anyway? Is someone trying to steal a parking spot which is close to where you want to go? Find a parking spot further away instead and be thankful that you are healthy enough to walk and get in a little exercise and not need a parking space designated for disabled people. If you do need a parking space designated for disabled people, by law someone else cannot take the parking spot unless he or she is qualified to park his or her vehicle in it.
  4. Stay safe. If you do become a victim of the road rage of another driver and you feel threatened, do not step out of the confines of your vehicle for any reason. Note the number of the license plate of the vehicle — as well as its make and model — in case the situation escalates and there is vehicle damage; and ensure that you take plenty of photographs if it is at all possible. Call the police if necessary; and call 911 if the incident in which you are involved becomes an emergency. If you are being followed, drive to a public place which is crowded — or better yet, to the nearest police station and request assistance.
  5. Keep your environment as free of stress as possible. Breathe deep. Listen to your favorite music. Keep the temperature in your car ideal for you while driving; and perhaps open a vent and feel a slight breeze to help you keep your cool. Leave yourself plenty of time to travel in case an unexpected impediment arises. Travel on a route which has beautiful scenery and is as free of construction and traffic as possible; or travel at a time when traffic is lighter. Plan your trip carefully to know as much as what is ahead of you on your trip as possible. Pull over for a few minutes at a safe place — such as an official rest stop — and stretch or nap to refresh yourself; use the washroom facilities; and have something to eat and drink. Anything that you can do to ensure that you are as free of stress and as comfortable as possible will increase your chances of not being involved in a road rage incident.
  6. Keep in mind your health and property risks. Is road rage really worth the increased chance of a stroke or heart attack for yourself? Worse, is it really worth potential damage to your vehicle, staring at the wrong end of a gun, or being beaten with a bat should the other person be armed?
  7. Empathize with the other driver while controlling yourself. You never know what could be contributing to the road rage of a fellow motorist. Perhaps one of his parents just died recently. Maybe her husband filed for divorce. Do not take the aggressiveness of a fellow motorist personally. You cannot control the road or other motorists; but you can control yourself and your behavior.

Summary

In the list of the twelve least popular American drivers, I would like to add two more whom I find inattentive: people who are talking on the telephone while they drive; and people who smoke while driving…

…and do not get me started on the person who is digging so far up his nose, apparently eagerly searching for buried treasure. Does he think no one else sees what he is doing through the windows?

Do not be an unnecessary statistic of road rage, as avoiding it is incredibly simple to do — even when there is a record number of motorists sharing the road with you. Keep in mind that your primary objective is traveling as safely as possible from your origination to your destination — not to engage violently with other drivers.

One final note: as one law enforcement officer whom I once knew – may he rest in peace — used to say, “I have never unbuckled a dead person.” No matter where you travel and in which type of vehicle — whether you are the driver or a passenger — please buckle your seat belt for your safety.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

2 thoughts on “Seven Tips on How to Avoid Road Rage as 38 Million Americans are Expected to Drive on Memorial Day Weekend”

  1. DaninMCI says:

    As a defensive driving instructor I agree with most of these tips. I’m a bit surprised that Portland was named as a polite city for drivers. Oregon is one of the worst states for left hand lane hogs, seriously.
    The main thing that gets holiday drivers in trouble is speeding. Once they get into this mind set they end up in a pack behind several other cars all tailgating in the left lane. Tensions then rise and the stress levels increase as traffic increases. Driving relaxed at or near the speed limit is much safer, less stressful, less dangerous. To top it off you will get there in about the same amount of time.
    Of course you could fly but then you risk being interviewed by the local TV news when you wait in line like they do every year 🙂

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I found Louisiana to be the home of left hand lane hogs, DaninMCI — or was it Texas?!?

      You pointed out something about which I have been aware for years: people tend to do things in packs — including driving. How many times are you cruising down the highway — only to approach a pack of vehicles in front of you, unnecessarily blocking your way?

      As for standing in line at the airport, you forgot one caveat: you are required to say to the reporter that you are willing do anything — even surrender your very dignity and respect — as long as it is all in the name of safety…

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