The term originated in Los Angeles, CA in the late 80’s when a rash of freeway shootings occurred on the Interstate 405, 110, and 10 freeways. “Road rage” encompasses rude gestures, verbal insults, physical threats or dangerous driving methods targeted toward another driver in an effort to intimidate or release frustration and can lead to altercations, assaults and collisions that result in serious physical injuries or even death.
Irritating driving situations and road rage can create a vicious cycle that is difficult to escape. Driving can have many annoyances anytime a person is behind the wheel because speed limits and other drivers making decisions different than your own. As stress rises, the likelihood of a person developing road rage escalates and if a person has road rage, their stress levels spike.
The Auto Channel recently released a survey of the top 5 cities with the highest reports of Road Rage which are; Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Boston, and Phoenix.
So, How Can You Prevent Road Rage?
While you can’t control the behavior of others – and let’s face it, some people are just jerks – you can do your best to prevent being a victim of road rage by following a few simple steps:
- Plan Ahead & Leave on time! If you’re not in a rush, you will better be able to be a passive driver with less concern about holding your place in the lead of the traffic.
- Get proper sleep. When you’re tired, it’s easier to become stressed and find yourself more irritable and less willing to accommodate other drivers on the road with you.
- Remember it’s not all about you. Sometimes, even when you’re the most courteous and law abiding driver on the road, you can’t please everyone. Also, everyone is not responsible for pleasing you by being as mindful of a driver as you are. It’s not about trying to understand why they keep slamming their breaks on in front of you or cutting you off unnecessarily. It is about getting as far away from that erratic driver as you can.
- Loosen up. Being a victim of road rage doesn’t always mean that someone is attacking you in some form, it could also mean you’re unknowingly attacking yourself. When you realize your gripping the wheel too tight, mashing your teeth, or thinking thoughts you’d never say in front of your loved ones you are putting yourself at risk in a different way – you’re risking your health. According to the American Psychological Association; road rage can lead to depression, heart attacks and strokes.
- Being cautious is being courteous. If you practice safe driving skills, avoid distracted driving and avoid any maneuvers that are going to make other drivers angry you can dodge road rage on your journey. For instance, don’t change lanes without signaling first and making sure you aren’t going to cut off another driver. If you are going to turn, make sure you have your turn signal on in plenty of time so the drivers around you know what you are doing. (Being cautious in inclement weather is even more important, so be sure to read our blog about driving in the rain also!)
- Avoid tailgating! No matter how frustrated you are with the slow driver in front of you who is eating your time up for breakfast, tailgating is the worst way to handle the situation. If you can’t find a way to get ahead of this nuisance safely then just get away from it instead. Realize that the time is lost regardless so putting some space between you and this annoying driver isn’t going to further damage your time clock, but continuing to tailgate this driver is going to further damage your attitude and health pointlessly.
- Don’t blow it! Laying on the horn is a distraction both for you and all the drivers who can hear it. While it may get your point across, it also creates unnecessary danger. Startling innocent drivers around you and angering your target is not the smart thing to do in an already stressful environment. And though it may give you a few seconds of relief it could be the final step in pushing that unstable driver over the edge of anger with you and create a very risky situation.
- Dodge obscene gestures and words to dodge road rage. We’ve all done it. We’ve all flipped off the guy who cut us off in traffic or cursed at the woman who used the on ramp to cut in the line of traffic. We all know they deserve it. But, did you know that these retaliations are the leading cause for road rage ending in violence? The best way to avoid a situation spiraling out of control is to stay in control of your own behavior.
- Just say no to eye contact. If you’ve made an error and a driver near you is doing all the things above we told you to avoid, don’t make eye contact with that driver. Stay seemingly oblivious and distance yourself from that driver – even if it means letting him or her take the lead. Also, if you really want to glare at the driver who made you angry – perhaps you feel you haven’t used an obscene gesture so you’re in the clear to at least glare – just don’t do it! It could very well be the one thing that driver needed as the match to his/her powder keg.
Unfortunately, there may be times when it will be impossible for you to avoid a confrontation with an enraged driver. This can be as simple as obscene gestures and horn blowing or it can escalate into something much more threatening.
If You Are in a Dangerous Road Rage Situation Take These Precautions:
- Distance yourself from the driver if possible. Try pulling over and letting a few cars get between you before re-entering traffic.
- If the driver follows you, stay in your car with your doors locked and your windows up. If necessary, circle a parking lot so that, if that driver is trying to approach your vehicle, you are not an easy target. Be sure to put on your hazard lights and circle slowly so that no pedestrians are endangered and call 9-1-1.
- If at all possible, drive to the nearest police station and call in advance to let them know you are on your way and what is happening.
- Note the color, year, make and model of the car as well as the license plate information or any noteworthy marks on their vehicle. Also try to get a good look at the driver so that you can give detailed information to the police if necessary.
- If you can safely video or photograph the vehicle and situation with your cell phone, do so after you have contacted the police.
- NEVER engage. You do not know if the enraged individual has a weapon or what kind of critical harm could come to you if you engage.
For your safety, we encourage you to do all that you can to avoid road rage. Following these tips can help you stay safe from this growing and dangerous activity that is plaguing the freeways and interstates of not just the U.S. but other countries as well. If you witness road rage but you are not directly involved you should still call 9-1-1 to protect yourself and others on the road. Stay safe on the road by using defensive driving techniques, avoid distractions, and avoiding road rage. Brush up on your driving skills by taking a safe driving course. To learn more about driving courses available to you, contact your auto insurance provider.
As the song says, “It never rains in Southern California, but don’t they warn you? It pours, man it pours.”
After one of our worst droughts in history, Southern California has been getting drenched lately with heavy rainfall and strong winds. Many of us aren’t used to this kind of weather so we wanted to share some very important safety tips about driving in these dangerous and unfamiliar conditions.
- Check your tires before driving in severe rain. Tire tread is what allows your tires to adhere to the road, which is why it’s so dangerous to drive with bald tires. Without the right traction, you can skid, slide, and hydroplane easily in wet conditions. (Click here for a simple way to check your tires at home.)
- Take your time. Slowing down is the only way to keep your vehicle from hydroplaning. Also remember that one of the most dangerous times to drive is soon after it begins to rain, as oils on roadway make for slick conditions. Waiting a few minutes, rather than rushing to your destination, can be a safer plan when it is raining.
- Keep a firm grip on the wheel. Keep both hands on the wheel in case the wind begins to move your vehicle, especially if you are driving a large vehicle or towing a trailer.Anticipate gusts by taking special care when driving through areas prone to strong winds or when weather reports predict severe weather.
- Turn your lights on. Turn your headlights on to help other vehicles see you, even in broad daylight. Be sure to check your lights regularly to make sure none of your lights have burnt out, and replace dead lights immediately. This includes headlights, brake lights, turn signals, tail lights, and running lights.
- Use and maintain your windshield wipers. You can improve your visibility in wet conditions by ensuring that your wipers are up to the job, and by using the right washer fluid. Replace poorly or not working windshield wipers immediately and maintain them annually to prevent them from cracking, breaking, or not sealing properly when you need them most.
- Avoid slamming on the brakes. Slamming on the brakes can cause you to slide forward, and you won’t be able to control the car. Hitting the brakes too hard can also force water into your brakes, making them less effective.
- Approach turns slowly. Turning too quickly on a wet road can cause your tires to hydroplane, and this means you won’t be able to control the car, and could skid out.
- DO NOT use cruise control. Cruise control is another factor that can lead to hydroplaning. The weight of the car shifts slightly when you ease on or off the accelerator, and this helps the tires maintain traction with the road. But with cruise control, because the speed of the car is constant, there is no weight shift, and the car can lose traction.
- Do not drive through deep standing water, deep flowing water or puddles that you are unclear of their depth. Driving through deep or moving water can be hazardous for a number of reasons, including that you could get stuck, stall out, damage the car or the electrical components, or be swept away. If you encounter these types of road flooding, turn around and find another route. In a case where the only route is blocked, pull over and wait out the flooding.
- Be prepared if you start to skid or hydroplane. Skidding on a wet road can be particularly frightening, but the key is to remain calm, look where you want to go, ease your foot off the accelerator, and gently steer in the direction you want to travel. Avoid braking and never slam on the brakes. Hydroplaning can occur at speeds as low as 35 miles (56 km) per hour, and when it happens your car may not react when you turn the steering wheel, and your back end may feel loose.
- Stay focused! When you’re behind the wheel, it’s important to always pay attention to the road, other cars, and pedestrians. This is especially true in the rain, when you cannot see as well, and your ability to stop may be hindered by the slickness of the road.
We know that SoCal traffic is bad enough in good weather and most of us are in a hurry to get to work on time. Driving in traffic is stressful and when it’s slowing you down it’s easy to get frustrated. Please keep an eye on the weather reports and plan ahead to avoid the frustration or pressures of feeling like you need to drive faster than you should in inclement weather. It’s always best to leave 15-30 minutes earlier than you do under normal conditions because your safety is more important than sleeping in or being slightly put out.
Stay safe, SoCal, and be sure to subscribe to our blog for regular safety tips and articles to keep you well and happy in the New Year.
Here’s our list of the top 10 gift ideas to
keep your loved ones prepared for emergency situations:
- First Aid Kit — It’s always smart to keep a First Aid Kit in your vehicle as well as your home. You can build the kit yourself and put it in a decorative, personalized container as a gift or you can buy a First Aid Kit. Be sure the kit contains the following important items:
An assortment of band-aids, a compress, adhesive cloth tape, gause, antibiotic ointment, hydrocortisone ointment, Asprin, Ibuprophen, Scissors, splint, Ace bandage Wrap, Antiseptic wipes, Thermometer, Flashlight, and a first aid manual.
- Vehicle Emergency Kit – Like the first aid kit, you can build one yourself as a gift or purchase a pre-made kit. Many pre-made kits include a first aid kit already! Be sure your vehicle safety kit has:
a jump starter, a portable air compressor to air tires, a car escape tool set, a lantern, reflective road flags or triangles
and a fire extinguisher.
- Fire Extinguisher – Every home and car should have a small Fire Extinguisher in case of emergency. Kitchen fires are more common than we realize and most insurance companies will discount home insurance policies for homeowners equipped with protection and prevention items such as extinguishers and smoke detectors. The National Fire Protection Agency reported an average of 31 vehicle fires on the road per hour and an average of one death per day and 12 severe injuries as a result.
- Computer Protection Programs — Antivirus or anti-virus software (often abbreviated as AV), sometimes known as anti-malware software, is computer software used to prevent, detect and remove malicious software. Learn what the best programs available are here!
- Identity Theft Protection Services — Identity theft occurs when someone uses one’s personal identifying information, without authorization, in order to perpetrate fraud or other offenses, such as obtaining loans, services or credit. To reduce that risk Identity Theft Protection Services are available. Learn what the best services available are here!
- Security Camera – Depending on your loved one’s need, a security camera is a great way to add a watchful eye to their home. Security cameras often deter crime when spotted by criminals. Choosing the right camera and system relies on several factors so we suggest you read this article before purchasing.
- Medical Alert System – This is really a necessity for anyone you love who lives alone but especially for an elderly or ill loved one who lives alone. Once again, depending on your loved one’s needs or capabilities, you will need to choose the best system suited for him or her. Here is a comprehensive guide of what to look for when shopping Medical Alert Systems.
- Multi-Purpose Flashlight – A flashlight is always handy, but one with additional options is even better. Today you can get rechargeable, bright flashlights with other useful tools included such as USB ports, a compass, a knife, a emergency signal and more.
- Weather and Hazard Alert Radio — These hazard specific radios work only with a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. NWR (Working with the Federal Communication Commission’s Emergency Alert System) broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week making it your single source for comprehensive weather and emergency information. In conjunction with Federal, State, and Local Emergency Managers and other public officials, NWR also broadcasts warning and post-event information for all types of hazards – including natural (such as earthquakes or avalanches), environmental (such as chemical releases or oil spills), and public safety (such as AMBER alerts or 911 Telephone outages).
- Safety Training Classes — You can buy your loved ones gift certificates for important classes to train in CPR, Gun Safety and more! Visit our website to learn what classes we have available to equip our students with important knowledge on how to stay safe and prepared to handle dangerous situations.
We wish you and your loved ones a Safe and Happy Holiday Season and a Wonderful New Year!
AAA now states that “distracted driving accounts for 25 to 50 percent of all accidents”.
According to www.distraction.gov, more than 70% of licensed drivers in the USA admit that they read and text while driving. Texting is not the only distraction while driving. Some people put on makeup, turn to face their passengers instead of the road, look at their radios while operating them, eat, smoke and many other simple distractions.
Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on America’s roadways. In 2014 alone, 3,179 were killed in distracted driving crashes.
Distracted driving is anything that can momentarily take our attention away from driving our vehicle. Because texting requires mental, visual and muscle attention, it is an extremely alarming distraction. The percentage of drivers text-messaging or visibly manipulating handheld devices increased from 1.7% in 2013 to 2.2% in 2014. Since 2007, young drivers (age 16 to 24) have been observed manipulating electronic devices at higher rates than adult drivers.
Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Transportation has launched a variety of creative campaigns to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving working with numerous partners, including AT&T’s poignant campaign against texting and driving. Many states have laws banning texting while driving, so not only is it dangerous but it may be illegal.
Sites like www.itcanwait.com provides ideas on how to disengage from the texting distraction while driving. If you send “#X” before you start your engine, your friends will be alerted that you are driving and that the next text can wait. An idea is to draw an X on your thumb to remind you to “#X” before you put your vehicle in Drive.
With so many distracted drivers on the road currently (statistically nearly 50% of people on the road at any moment) we all need to pay attention for not only our own safety but also for the people we love.