Road rage is becoming all too common, even though studies show that such violence is generally sparked by minor reasons, AAA Oregon Public Affairs Director Elliott Eki said.
Road rage was blamed as the cause of the Friday, July 23, crash on I-5 near Wilsonville that claimed the life of 19-year old Justin Williams, a promising Oregon State University football player. Road rage also was the apparent cause of a rollover accident on Interstate 84 near Boardman a little more than a week ago that sent three to the hospital.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety researched more than 10,000 incidents of violent, aggressive driving committed between 1990 and 1996. According to the study, 218 people were killed and 12,610 were injured in those incidents.
Many drivers involved in those incidents were men between the ages of 18 and 26, but anyone can become aggressive if they let anger take precedence over safe driving, AAA officials said.
There are no sure techniques to avoid being a victim of aggressive violence, Eki said, but AAA Oregon suggested following three basic principles:
1. Don't cut off other drivers, make sure you have plenty of room and use your turn signals. If someone cuts you off, slow down and give them room to merge.
2. If you're in the left lane and someone wants to pass, move over, even if you're traveling at the speed limit. This is what apparently prompted the incident west of Boardman. A car pulled up behind a car traveling in the left lane and eventually passed on the right, pulled back in front of the car and braked.
3. Allow at least a 2-second space between you and the car ahead. If you think the car ahead is going too slowly and you're unable to pass, slow down to allow more following distance.
4. Almost nothing angers drivers more than obscene gestures. Keep your hands on the wheel. Avoid making gestures that may anger the other driver. Even "harmless" expressions of irritation, such as shaking your head, can incite aggressive behavior.
1. Give angry drivers lots of room. If they try to pick a fight, put as much distance as you can between you and the other car. Don't pull off the road to try to settle things "man-to-man."
2. If another driver is acting angry, don't make eye contact. Looking or staring at the other driver can escalate into a personal dual.
3. If you believe the other driver is trying to start a fight, get help. If you have a cell phone, call the police. Otherwise, drive to a place where people are around, such as a police station, shopping center or a convenience store. Using your horn to get someone's attention will discourage the aggressor. Don 't get out of your car; don't go home.
Adjust Your Attitude:
1. Don't race the clock; give yourself extra time to travel and to relax.
2. Don't judge the other driver; try to understand why he or she is driving aggressively. Stay calm. Don't take the other driver's actions personally.