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Old 6th March 2013, 09:15   #1
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Default Road Rage - Understanding, Avoidance and De-escalating Situation

What is Road Rage?

Road rage is aggressive behaviour exhibited by an individual which has been triggered by a perceived or actual traffic misdemeanor. This leads to rage, unpleasant altercations, damage and even death.

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Why does this happen?


There are two parts to understanding this. The first part is to understand the cause and the other part is the trigger.

Think gelignite + detonator – one will not explode in isolation but the two of them creates an explosion.

Within each of these components are various vectors. One cannot isolate any one vector which actually contributed to the incident. However, it is best to understand these vectors in order to modify your behaviour and resolve the issue

Disclaimer - the content going forward is based on my introspection, observations and experience! Human behaviour is complex, anything can happen! My suggestions might not always work

Last edited by ajmat : 15th April 2013 at 22:00.
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Old 6th March 2013, 09:16   #2
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Default Causes of Road Rage

The list is endless but listed are some of the more relevant ones. (as the responses to this article progress, I will add more to this list!)

Psychological
  • Short-tempered
  • Feeling of inadequacy – I have had a raw deal and you have added to it
  • A bad day - There is always that straw that broke the camels back and you might be it (wittingly or unwittingly)

Opportunistic
  • Taking advantage of the rich-poor divide
  • Inducing and taking advantage of the shock
  • Citing regional differences

Ego
  • Win at all cost attitude
  • Need to look good when exiting the situation
  • Goading by external parties/ peer groups


Fear of Injustice
  • I will not get compensated for the damage
  • Insurance processes are not third party friendly
  • Chances of being given false addresses and phone numbers


Lack of Traffic Education

  • I do not know the law, so I better fight for what I can get

Hiding Guilt
  • I actualy committed an offence but let me hide it through aggression

Usually there are at least two or three of these causes that act at the same time, even more!

Last edited by ajmat : 6th March 2013 at 22:14.
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Old 6th March 2013, 09:16   #3
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Default Triggers for Road Rage

1: Traffic indiscipline and infrastructure

You will not disagree - the list of things that drive you mad are endless. Many incidents can erode your patience

2: Environmental Factors - hot weather, wrong time of the month


These all build up the frustration

3: You! – yes You!

“But we are Team-BHP’ians, we drive safely and are like angels?”

“ May be, may be not, everybody has a flaw in their driving and maybe a misinterpretation of the law”

No one is perfect. Your imperfection has an equal chance of triggering the incident as also the your self-righteous act (i.e. trying to regulate the speed limit - regulate yourself, not others), teaching the offender a lesson!

Last edited by ajmat : 6th March 2013 at 22:19.
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Old 6th March 2013, 09:18   #4
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Default Situation - Facing a Tirade

The Tirade


If you are accosted at a stop. At best, it might be merely be a verbal spat where no one gets out of their vehicle and a tirade of expletives are delivered.

Treat the expletives as a means for the aggressor to release pressure!
  • Listen, be a passive but confident listener.
  • Your ego will want to counter him but the ensure one lets off steam.
  • Your passive stance might deescalate tensions.
  • Show that you have listened, assuming no damage/ injury has been incurred, just move on.
  • A traffic signal or a junction just cleared is a logical reason to move on.

Another technique is to apologise without apologising! Sounds corny. Apologise that the incident happened, do not apologise stating you did this or that. The chances are that his rage prevents him from hearing and his ego gets satisfied!

Last edited by ajmat : 15th April 2013 at 21:44.
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Old 6th March 2013, 09:20   #5
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Default Situation - Evasive Action assuming no Damage or Injury

The scenario assumes no damage or injury is apparent. You have the right not to stop!

A lot of times, you can see it coming, the vehicle will come at you and aggressively try to overtake and his eyes will be on you. The question is whether it is worth his time, try going in a direction far different than he is going. he might not bother.

If in the extreme right lane - Scan opposite traffic and take a smooth U turn if it is safe and road is clear.

If you are in the extreme left lane - Take a left turn assuming you know you are not entiering a clogged road or a dead end. The logic in this is that the forced detour might not be worth it for the aggressor. Time is money - he might carry on!

If these do not work, prepare for a confrontation, this could be merely a tirade or a rude gesture at best, or could escalate to violence

Last edited by ajmat : 15th April 2013 at 21:46.
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Old 6th March 2013, 09:21   #6
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Default Potential Violence Escalation

If things look like escalating to violence

Dealing with violence and intimidation
  • Stay in the car and watch out for the aggressors next move.

  • Try and visualise your escape route if visible.

  • Do not cast the first stone or draw first blood - Never strike or damage first. The more you do, the more you get sucked in, the more you sucked in, the more you get tangled from a legal/ police perspective

  • If the aggressor starts banging on your car, you have the right to move on if possible and get to a police station or a place of safety.

  • You also have the right to self-defend yourself but lets deal with that separately

  • Never open your window or get out until you know it is safe or a uniformed officer is present

  • Keep your key safe! If you need to open a window or get out of the car, remove key and give it to passenger, keep it in the centre console. If desperate, drop it on the floor if you must but it would delay your getaway. If you need to get out of car, keep windows closed.

  • Use your phone camera – it is not easy to film in a stressed situation but worth it if you can. Keep it in movie mode so that you do not have to make an effort to focus and click.

  • If the aggressor snatches your key or some possession – Please see separate section on this. It is advisable that if you are going on a long journey, keep a spare key with one of your passengers or hidden in some luggage

  • If your car is blocked by a few people and you are facing violence – people banging on the car. Try driving the car at crawling pace (5km/h) and push through. Do not run them over, they might step back in a self preservation instinct. Consider doing this if the mob has already caused a dent or two else they will claim you ran them down. You need evidence!

  • If you canot move and the mob is intimidating but non violent, remain, and call the police. Make it clear, you do not feel safe and you will not negotiate with a non official person. You will lose time on this however.

  • Threat of false witnesses - Please take down the witness details or tell them to provide their details and individually relate their story to the police. They will not since they do not want the hassle and the police will find ambiguities. Again, there is nothing like running a quick video with your camera to establish who was actually there!


The Police

  • They are human, they could be biased but they are certainly overworked, working in not so pleasant environments. These guys are stressed. Technically, a road rage matter will be too small an affair for them unless it turns into a physical attack.

  • All they will want this altercation to end safely.

  • The police could be biased, misinformed or under local pressure

  • Be humble and respectful to them and state the truth and facts which will disprove any fiction. They should look into this especially if a written complaint is made.

  • If they want you to settle for something where you are not at fault, you do not have to! You have your rights and insurance. However, there might be the issue of speed money etc which is not up for discussion here. The police should have sufficient grounds to prosecute you for something. Consider the actual cost and time for justice as well as all implications and decide what is the best course of action to get out safely. Just remember - both justice and injustice costs.... unfortunately.

  • It is advantageous to have some knowledge about the law and procedures.


Last edited by ajmat : 15th April 2013 at 21:56.
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Old 6th March 2013, 09:22   #7
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Default Re: Road Rage - Understanding, Avoidance and De-escalating Situation

In these cases, it is assumed that it is safe to get out of the car and ascertain next steps

In the event of causing an injury
  • Do not first focus on whose fault, focus on treating the injured.

  • Make it absolutely clear, you will do what you can to ensure first aid. This will divert any negative attention and energy, the compassion shown should cool down things. The discussions on damage would ideally follow later in a more civilized manner hopefully. The police do factor this in.

  • The police must be informed (at least if the injury is much more than cuts and bruises). This is to ensure proper investigation, documentation and also ensure no bogus exaggerated claims happen later on. If the damage is substantial. You will need to file an FIR just to avoid any liability.

  • Inform your insurance company and register a claim immediately


In the event of the incident triggered by damage involving yourself.

If it is a tirade you need to deal with
  • Make it clear, you are open to communicate, you are not going anywhere and ready to discuss the matter only in a civilized manner

  • Be firm, confident, but polite

  • if the person is being aggressive, do nothing, say nothing, make it clear than you will wait until one can discuss things reasonably

    These steps should contribute to calming a person down. I will not discuss finger pointing etc. but you should be prepared to walk away unscathed at the least and ensure fair compensation if you know you are at fault.

  • The ideal solution would be to exchange insurance details but nothing will happen beyond this.

  • If unreasonable claims are being made, you need to involve the police or challenge the other party to send you a legal notice. Before you do that, make sure you have enough proof/ evidence that would lead to a reasonable claim or counterclaim .

  • Avoid the local expert who appears on the spot and distracts everyone. Try and keep the dialogue between you and the other party. Politely tell the "expert" that you will only talk to the second party and no one else. These guys fuel the rage and ego. Eliminate them!

  • Name dropping might happen especially dropping that of a political/ local honcho. Do not say anything bad about the person referenced, merely state that we should not trouble such important people and that only the police need to be involved. Again, do not show that you are impressed or intimidated. The chances are that they may not know the person. Insist on filing an FIR

Last edited by ajmat : 7th April 2013 at 12:43. Reason: Scene 2 - Situation involving damage or injury from the incident
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Old 6th March 2013, 09:22   #8
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Default Re: Road Rage - Understanding, Avoidance and De-escalating Situation

What do the other party snatches my key?


1: Ask for it back
2: If not forthcoming, take a picture of him and note number
3: Tell him, you will be reporting him for criminal theft


What if I am at the receiving end of physical violence

You have a duty to protect yourself and get out of danger. If you are assaulted or someone inflicts initial damage, get in car or run. If you need to to retaliate physically, focus on blocking his attacks and pushing him away. You fight to defend, not to win a fight in this case!

What if someone threatens me with a weapon

Normally the weapon comes out if they want immediate action or to scare you. They might not want to use or even know how to use it but one is not going to even find that out. Resorting to weapons happens when the situation has not been descalated. You have no choice unless you can lock yourself in a car or drive off. Inform the police if there is a loss or damage incurred.

Last edited by ajmat : 15th April 2013 at 22:08.
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Old 6th March 2013, 09:23   #9
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Default Re: Road Rage - Understanding, Avoidance and De-escalating Situation

Road Rage is a manifestation of aggression due to one or a combination of the following
  • Lack of self-control
  • Intimidation tactic
  • Cover up of fear since he cannot exit a situation
  • Perceived loss of ego

You can counter this by being

1: Confident – you have guts to face him and deal with him
This will counter any intimidation tactic

2: Polite -
This will bring some self control back and also reduce need for intimidation

3: Gracious to a fault – a reed bends in a hurricane, a tree snaps
This will address the ego but be careful not to lose control and be taken advantage of.

4: Firm about your rights and your facts
State the traffic rule (do not invent the rules!) and stand firm on recognizing proper legal redressal methods


No one wins in road rage – both lose

Why ?
  • No settlement is fair either way in an uncontrolled mindset.
  • Likelihood to settle damages is lower since bridges are burnt
  • Both parties are humiliated – one for behaving badly for no reason, the other for being the victim
  • As much as you resolved the situation peacefully, you really wanted to strangle each other.
  • Time is wasted for nothing

Last edited by ajmat : 7th April 2013 at 12:42.
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Old 6th March 2013, 09:23   #10
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Default Re: Road Rage - Understanding, Avoidance and De-escalating Situation

Case Studies about what happened to me!

1: Aggressor blocks me, behaves abusively takes my key and even slams phone out of my hand. Aggression due to loss of self-control.

Counter-tactic – Factually show there is no damage. Ask him what he wanted – he found he had no reason for his behaviour but could not find a way out
Lever – Clearly tell him that he has stolen my key, assaulted me, blocked traffic and if he drove away, the police will be onto him.
Secret lever – I had the opportunity to disable and snatch key but I could get an assault case landed on me
Result - To calm him down, apologised but did not apologise, laid out the cards - theft, assault, he threw my key down and drove off.
I could have taken him down, intimidate him with my golf clubs but I could do without police cases


2: Wife while learning to drive taps an auto. Driver snatches key and makes outrageous demand. Aggression due to opportunistic plan and also fear of not getting compensated
Countertactic - Make him walk to inspector at junction. I show willingness to be reasonable, inspector tells him to settle.


3: Caught in a mob since I breached a hartal. False allegation, intimidation abound. Aggression due to false ego. Mob plans to bring in their "expert"

Counter-tactic – Stay in car, make it clear, I will not trust them. Insist on police intervention
Lever – ensuring the false allegations did not add up – “victim” walking properly, no damage to car, insistence on getting a medical opinion
Results - Facts resulted in the police telling the mob to get lost. They did however ban me from leaving till 6pm. We said fine. Their ego totally stoked, they told us to carry on!

Last edited by ajmat : 15th April 2013 at 22:00.
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Old 7th April 2013, 13:16   #11
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Default Avoiding and Protecting yourself from Roadrage

Concluding

1: Drive defensively

2: Give yourself a lot of space between you and everyone else

3: Do not be self righteous and teach/ lecture someone

4: Be confident, firm and polite

5: Be a good listener

De-escalating a situation depends on 3 factors

Ego - Can be deconstructed by behaviour and fact

Time - If there is nothing to fight about, get away

Facts - If you have clear facts, and you can get the aggressor to understand, it can turn tables

A good tool to have - would be a driver camera. It is almost essential in Russia and might happen here. The only thing is that it should also work when the ignition is off!

Last edited by ajmat : 15th April 2013 at 22:04.
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Old 15th April 2013, 22:09   #12
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Default Re: Road Rage - Understanding, Avoidance and De-escalating Situation

Moving this to the main forum. Looking forward to your inputs
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Old 15th April 2013, 23:13   #13
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Default

Excellent topic. Thanks for bringing this out. :

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajmat View Post

Psychological
  • Short-tempered
  • Feeling of inadequacy – I have had a raw deal and you have added to it
  • A bad day - There is always that straw that broke the camels back and you might be it (wittingly or unwittingly)

Opportunistic
  • Inducing and taking advantage of the shock

Ego
  • Need to look good when exiting the situation
Some of these above phenomenon are growing in accelerated manner these days, what with the growing population of vehicles on the road.

Please add to it the following:

Psychological / Ego
  • I'm Mr.Right (and the other guy is not)!

Opportunistic
  • I can, therefore I am (doing this).

Edit: Corrected the bullets that were not handled properly when posted using the iPad app.

Last edited by GunMo : 15th April 2013 at 23:24.
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Old 16th April 2013, 00:14   #14
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Default Re: Road Rage - Understanding, Avoidance and De-escalating Situation

If you are a localite, always talk in the local language. This immediately establishes you as a "son of the soil" and keeps rabble rousers away.
Talking to the police is also much easier in local language. How many policemen are fluent in English / Hindi?
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Old 16th April 2013, 00:18   #15
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Default Re: Road Rage - Understanding, Avoidance and De-escalating Situation

Excellent topic. It will definitely help us on the road in case of such adverse situations. Jut what we need to do is to keep ourselves cool and handle the situation in the way you have mentioned. I will share this link with my non BHPian friends too so they also get benefited from this topic.

Last edited by Samba : 16th April 2013 at 00:20.
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