Road Rage! Utah Hatchet Thrower May Face Jail Time
It's a phenomenon that befalls many of us when we drive away from our homes or workplaces.
We get tense, upset, angry, frustrated and impatient with traffic, other drivers, pedestrians, inanimate objects ("Stupid traffic light!") and even our own vehicles ("Why won't you go faster!").
Scientists have tried to explain it. From the American Psychological Association:
Psychologists are studying what makes some people more prone to road rage and how to keep them from becoming a danger on the road. Environmental factors such as crowded roads can boost anger behind the wheel. Certain psychological factors, including displaced anger and high life stress, are also linked to road rage. In addition, studies have found that people who experience road rage are more likely to misuse alcohol and drugs.
But the truth is, even the most mild-mannered of us can become, well, jerks, behind the wheel.
Check this out from the news wire today:
Police in Riverton arrested a man who allegedly threw a hatchet during a road rage incident. Authorities say Tyler High was driving when another car pulled onto the road and caused him to slow down. Police say the two exchanged words before stopping in the roadway and getting out of their cars. Police say High admitted throwing the hatchet at the other driver because he felt threatened. He could face a charge of aggravated assault.
Truthfully, I'm not even surprised. The hatchet part is a little over-the-top, but just take a drive around a crowded urban area and you'll see behavior like this on a daily basis.
Males age 20-29 are the most likely to exhibit road rage, although I've seen plenty of males around 40-years-old here in Southern Utah and I've actually seen quite a few young females act unreasonably on the roads.
So what can we do? Here are some tips from AAA:
Give Yourself Enough Time
A potential cause of anger while driving is feeling rushed due to traffic, construction, or other drivers. If you're short on time while driving to your destination, you may feel frustrated if you come across a situation that slows you down, which might cause you to drive in a more hurried, risky way.
Traffic is not always predictable, even if you're using an app. To adhere to traffic safety standards and avoid rushing, give yourself a buffer. Look up the route you'll take ahead of time so that you know how long the drive will be, then try to give yourself up to 40 minutes extra to arrive. You may have to plan your at-home schedule around this extra time. For example, try to shower earlier or put your clothes out for the day before you sleep at night.
While you can't change another driver’s anger, you may manage your response to their behavior.
At times, people make mistakes on the road. Your fellow drivers may be living with stress or could have experienced a temporary lapse. They may be a new driver or may be having a bad day.
Understanding that mistakes can happen may help you avoid feeling tense or angry when someone drives in a way that inconveniences you or puts you in danger. Try to think about driving as a community activity. You and your fellow motorists are trying to get to your destination, and you might help each other by being courteous and understanding on the road.
Avoid Engaging With Angry Drivers
You might encounter a reckless, angry, or aggressive driver. Perhaps a motorist will drive aggressively near you or direct their displaced anger at you because of how you drove near them. When high-anger drivers do this, try not to engage. Responding to reckless driving, shouting, or gesturing with similar expressions of anger may escalate the situation and make it more hazardous.
If you're worried about aggressive drivers, you can avoid more risks by keeping plenty of distance between your car and theirs. You can slow down or safely exit to give yourself space. If necessary, alert the authorities that someone is driving recklessly, which may help keep others safe.
If someone leaves their car, threatens you with physical harm, makes you feel your life is at risk, or engages in any other dangerous behavior, contact the authorities by calling 911. Try not to leave your vehicle and lock your car doors. Escape the situation by driving away if possible.
Avoid Driving While Already Angry
If you're in a heightened state before getting behind the wheel, road rage could exacerbate your emotions and cause you to engage in riskier driving. Research shows that driving while angry may drastically increase the likelihood of an accident.
If you're upset, give yourself time to control your emotions, even if it means being late. Try using anger management techniques to relax before leaving and start driving once you feel calmer.
Utilize Relaxation Methods In The Car
Specific proven techniques for preventing unhealthy expressions of anger can be practiced in the car. For example, listening to calming music has been shown to improve the mood of those who experience anger while driving. Additionally, studies show that mindfulness practices can be done on the go.
Physical discomfort may translate to tension, so adjust your seat, mirrors, and steering wheel in a way that feels comfortable. You can also practice deep breathing and other techniques for overall anger management while you're driving.
My friend Tyler Todd offers this final bit of advice: "Leave early and slow down."