As a learner driver, have you been exposed to “road rage” or are you guilty of experiencing it yourself?

Road Safety is number one priority.

Road rage can be induced by many things from “having a bad day” to “bad driving habits”.  Most people at some point in their lives, witness road rage – swerving across lanes, tailgating or quick braking! What triggers this behaviour? Everyone likes to think that they would never be capable of being considered a “dangerous” driver by others as road safety is top priority. But these bad habits can be easy to slip into!

Picture yourself in a scenario where you are going to be late for an important meeting, for work or for a new date.  Immediately, the adrenalin kicks in and thoughts of “road safety” go out of the window!  Initially, you may speed up by going a km or 2 over the speed limit (easy to do?!) but immediately you are putting yourself and others at risk.  By now you are probably thinking you can speed up a little bit more as no-one has noticed.  Besides, it is getting really annoying as there are so many slow cars in front of you that you need to dodge and weave around. That’s how easy it is to get into that sort of mind frame.  Thinking you are only a few km’s over the speed limit, that’s not so bad.  But, is it? … And why risk it?

Road rage accepted as ‘normal’

Stephen Moir from the Motor Trade Association agreed that road rage was a significant issue.

“Unfortunately we have this idiot minority out there who believe the road is their sacred area and don’t want to share it with anyone.

“We almost accept road rage as a normal thing.

“We need to take a much stronger approach to people who deliberately set out to harm another person on the road, whether on a bicycle or in a car.”

via ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

There are a number of commonly associated behaviours with road rage:
  • sudden speeding up
  • sudden braking
  • tailgating
  • getting verbally abusive or
  • excessive use of the horn

Best thing is to avoid them, when you notice someone else behaving in any of the above ways on the road. Keep a good distance away.  Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to engage in any rude gestures!

RACQ advice to drivers to help avoid aggressive driver behaviour is to:
  • remain calm and relaxed;
  • drive defensively and make allowances for errors by others;
  • adopt a ‘share the road’ rather than a ‘me first’ approach to driving;
  • use the horn sparingly and only as a warning device;
  • leave unpleasant encounters or delays in the past and concentrate on the rest of the trip; and
  • don’t try to police other road users’ behaviours.

“It is important that rather than trying to enforce road rules themselves, drivers inform police of inappropriate road user behaviour.” via Road Rage, Aggressive Driving and Sharing The Road | RACQ

Signs that you can look out for in your own behaviour to prevent yourself from engaging in Road Rage:
  • If you feel your temper rising, it is best to pull over and regain calmness.  If you are unable to pull over safely, then self-talk will help.  Reassure yourself in order to keep your emotions in check.  If someone else on the road makes a mistake, take a deep breath as anger or revenge is not an acceptable response to their bad driving.
  • Don’t take things personally.  Usually, an angry driver will just lash out at whoever is closest.
  • If you are late or in a hurry to get somewhere, remind yourself that nothing is that important.  It can wait for an extra few minutes.  Don’t try and get there faster, rather let the person concerned know that you are running late prior to starting your journey.
  • Irresponsible driving while in a hurry or while angry is putting lives at risk.  Not just yours but your passengers and others on the road!  Is anger or being late for something a good enough reason for causing a fatal accident or for landing up in jail for something unintentional?

As a parent or guardian of a learner driver, keep the conversations going about safe driving behaviours.  Talk to your teens about managing their emotions especially when learning to drive or being exposed to other drivers with bad driving habits and behaviours.  Promote the benefits of driving more considerately (of other drivers) and sympathetically (of the vehicle) and ensure your learner drivers take on board these road safety tips.

Road Rage should NOT be accepted as normal but Road Safety is!


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