Protect yourself from road rage

The term "aggressive driving" emerged in the 90's as a label for a small group of drivers who felt compelled to take the lead in every traffic situation. Ignoring traffic signals, driving too fast and putting the public at risk are just some of the signs of these aggressive drivers. Just a few years later, road rage stories began hitting the news media and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety cited more than 10,000 cases of road rage from 1990 to 1996. Today, everyone knows what road rage is-and it's dangerous.

Women drivers are not immune to assault by road ragers. A study published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 75 percent of drivers consider driving safety a chief concern that includes female drivers. Factors like traffic delays, disregard for the law and habitual or clinical behaviors contribute to aggressive driving situations. You don't have to hide in your home or take the bus for the rest of your life. Avoid aggressive drivers and refuse to react to others who demonstrate road rage.

Check yourself. Take a hard look at your own behaviors. Are you an aggressive driver? Don't drive angry and curb your temper when you are behind the wheel.

Obey the laws. No one is immune to the law-including you. Brush up on local driving laws to remember how far to tag behind a car and when to signal. Set a good example and resist the temptation to run a red light.

Stay in the car. If you do happen to get in a fender-bender stay in your car. Don't put yourself in a physical situation where you might have a disadvantage.

Master your horn. Laying on the horn to alert the car ahead of you that the light has changed is no longer a good idea. If you do have to use your car horn, give it a friendly "toot-toot" not a long blaring sound. It's unsettling to a nervous driving population and could send the wrong signals to an aggressive driver.

No distracted driving. The rules about texting, talking and emailing while driving apply to you too. If you expect a phone call, ride in the right lane so you can make a speedy exit when you need to. Install a hands-free device in your car that you can use for talking.

Avoid eye contact. Staring down a lousy driver is a good way to challenge him. For your safety's sake, don't get into a shouting or staring match with other drivers. It's best to ignore getting personal with hand signals and name calling too.

Call the police. In the event that you spot a dangerous driver, call the police as soon as you can safely do so. You could save lives.

Drive to a safe spot. If you can't avoid a scary driver, drive to a safe spot like a police station or sheriff's office. Blow the horn until someone comes out or until the driver goes away. Never step out of the car if you know someone has been following you.

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