It’s a fact: road rage incidents are on the upswing. According to Bankrate, a financial assistance website, road rage deaths due to gun violence have doubled compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Most gig drivers with any time on the job, whether they are rideshare, food delivery, or package drivers, can tell you about a road rage incident either they witnessed or in which they were involved. In a city of any size, it is a daily occurrence.
“I had more than 5,500 rides in the year before the pandemic,” said one rideshare driver who has yet to return to the streets. “In all those encounters, I had two instances of unruly passengers who might have attacked me had I not handled it the way I did. As for road rage? I saw that every day.”
Topics we’ll address in this blog post
Read on as we discuss some ways you can identify and avoid road rage as a gig driver. We’ll cover
- What is road rage?
- How do you avoid a road rage driver?
- Why is road rage a thing?
- What to do if you encounter a road rager?
- Road rage demographics.
- Gig drivers are not immune from road rage
- What if you are a victim of road rage?
- Road rage is serious.
What is road rage?
Let’s try to draw some lines here, as much as we can.
According to the AAA website, at least 80% of drivers admit to engaging in aggressive driving. The most common traits of aggressive driving, followed by the percentage of people surveyed who admitted to these practices, include
- speeding, specifically driving 15 miles an hour over the speed limit 48%
- tailgating to prevent another vehicle from merging in front of you 34%
- honking or making rude gestures 32%
- running a red light 31%
- rushing to merge into traffic in front of another vehicle 28%
Road rage, however, takes this up a level. You can probably define road rage as committing all the activities above but with the intent to intimidate someone or cause bodily injury. Road rage activities also include bumping another car, running another car off the road, getting out and physically assaulting another driver or a pedestrian, and in the most extreme cases, shooting at someone with a gun.
That definition is not far from the one found in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary: “a motorist’s uncontrolled anger that is usually provoked by another motorist’s irritating act and is expressed in aggressive or violent behavior.”
How do you avoid a road rage driver?
Most importantly, pay attention to the road. Take note of drivers exhibiting activities described in the previous section. Everyone speeds, so although that is the number one sign of an aggressive driver, it is not necessarily the sign of a road rager. The more aggressive behaviors—brake checks, tailgating to prevent another vehicle from merging in front of you, and honking or making rude gestures—are more concrete signs of a road rager.
Why is road rage a thing?
There are many explanations for road rage. People are late, they get behind someone talking on a cell phone, weaving in and out of the lane, or a driver cuts them off. But at a more fundamental level, road rage is a combination of the psychology of driving a car and a national epidemic of anger.
Your car is an extension of your world. It’s unique, however, in that you can be alone within the confines of your car, but you’re also interacting with people on the road.
Jeromy Anglim, a senior lecturer at the School of Psychology at Deakin University in Australia, recently commented in a Psychology and Neuroscience Stack Exchange about why you so often see people picking their nose in their car:
“One explanation of this observation is that being a driver in a car is a semi-private space. It is semi-private in that it often feels like people can’t see you. In addition, even if someone sees you, you will be driving away from them shortly. And it is unlikely that they know who you are and that your nose picking will ever affect your reputation.
“Thus, presumably there are many activities that people tend to do more in private, that occur often in a car. E.g., random singing, farting, etc.”
There you have it: singing, farting, nose picking—and road rage. You’re at your worst and your best in your car. Drivers get caught up in the false privacy of their cars and think that others don’t see them. They rage at others until their anger gets the best of them, but by that time, they can’t stop.
There are also a lot of people walking around (and driving) that have anger issues. A Washington Post article cites a Duke and Columbia University study that says about 22 million Americans have impulsive anger issues, or about 8.9% of the population. Worse than that, points out the article, they also have easy access to guns.
Another factor is that quite often you come across people who have it in for gig drivers. Other drivers for hire have the same problem. Someone once got their car towed, for example, so they have it in for tow truck drivers. Another person once got thrown out of a taxi, so now they have it in for taxi drivers. Both rideshare and food delivery are disruptors in many ways. Although food delivery drivers are incognito, rideshare drivers have the Lyft amp or Uber beacon. There are people who have it in for gig drivers. It doesn’t make sense, but it happens.
What to do if you encounter a road rager?
When you see road rage activities, the best tactic is, try not to goad them on. The second tactic, and not far behind, is to distance yourself and get away as soon and as safely possible. Turn down a side street or into a crowded parking lot where there are witnesses. Be careful not to get into a location where you are boxed in with no place to go. Also, don’t get out of the car, especially if the road rager gets out of their vehicle and confronts you.
Here are some other tips if you encounter a road rager, courtesy of the AAA website:
- Avoid eye contact with angry drivers. This is either seen as an act of aggression or gives the road rager more chances to engage you.
- Don’t respond to aggression with aggression. Things can quickly build up if you feed the rager with more rage.
- When you park, allow room so you can pull out safely if someone approaches you aggressively.
- Use your horn to attract attention but remain in your locked vehicle. Another option is to have a car alarm with a panic button feature.
- If the rager confronts you, stay as calm and courteous as possible.
- If you feel threatened, call 911.
The best advice, however, is to avoid face-to-face confrontations with road ragers. Their anger may be so all-encompassing that they will assault you regardless of witnesses being present.
Road rage demographics
Men’s Health Magazine published an article about road rage and included demographics on the perpetrators. They found that millennials caused 54.2% of fatal road rage and aggressive driving accidents. Here is a complete rundown:
- Millennials (born 1981 to 1996) 54.2%
- Gen X (born 1965-1980) 21.4%
- Gen Z (born 1997-2012) 14.6%
- Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) 8.2%
- Silent generation (born previous to 1946) 1.7%
Fatal aggressive driving and road rage incidents occur most often on Sunday (20.1%) and Monday (19.2%), followed by Thursday (14.8%). Tuesdays and Fridays are tied as the day least likely to see a road rage event (10.7%).
The hour most likely for these events to occur is 10:00 p.m. The hour least likely is 8:00 a.m. California leads the pack with the most road rage events, followed by Hawaii. If you look at it based on cities where the hashtag #roadrage appears the most, it is Los Angeles, New York, and Mt. Pleasant, NC.
Still looking at it based on #roadrage, the hour most people feel road rage is 6:00 p.m. (rush hour). The leading month is August (when it’s hot).
Gig drivers are not immune from road rage
Gig driving can be a tough business. As rideshare drivers, you get your share of abusive passengers, or you encounter inconsiderate drivers. If your gig is food delivery, the same thing happens. Regardless of what happens, in the end, you are the recipient of the customer’s displeasure, and they don’t want to hear your excuses.
If you feel road rage coming on, there are numerous sources on the internet for tips on how to check yourself. These come from Ladenburg Law, a personal injury firm in Olympia, Washington.
- Get a good night’s sleep. You are at your best when you’re well rested.
- Play calm music or listen to a podcast. Save the death metal music for another time.
- Humanize other drivers. Try to think of other drivers as your grandmother or some other loved one.
- Make sure your attitude is in check. Are you prepared to be a polite and patient driver?
- This isn’t about winning. It’s about getting home safe to your family.
- If you feel yourself getting upset, take a break. Stop for a soda or a burger. Relax.
What if you are a victim of road rage?
A few months back, Gridwise published the blog post How to Protect Yourself as a Rideshare Driver. Some of those same tips apply. The best advice, however, is not to engage a road rager. Don’t get out of the car. Drive away. These are dangerous people and, according to reports, are often likely to be armed.
But if you are assaulted, by all means, report the incident to the police. If you are a rideshare driver and you are the victim of road rage while you have a passenger in the car, also report the incident to the appropriate rideshare company. If someone else’s road rage results in you getting into an accident, you can consult LegalRideshare through Gridwise Legal Help, a partnership intended to help Gridwise drivers get legal and financial assistance after accidents.
Make sure you have the Gridwise app downloaded to contact LegalRideshare
Road rage is serious
People get seriously hurt in road rage incidents all the time, but there are measures you can take to protect yourself. Take care of yourself, use some of these tips, and stay safe out there.