We’ve all seen videos and heard stories from riders about a road-rage incident that ended up in the rider’s favor, with the wayward car driver getting well-deserved karma in some nasty form. But the reality is that those outcomes are by far the exception rather than the rule. Any road-rage incident you get into on your motorcycle against another vehicle is much more likely to turn out not in your favor. Here we have some common-sense techniques to help you reduce the chances of getting into a road-rage incident in the first place and extricate yourself from a situation that maybe you couldn’t avoid.
Most road-rage incidents are instigated by one driver being overly aggressive toward another, with the second driver becoming aggressive in return. The situation can escalate quickly, with both drivers becoming more and more aggressive, sometimes to the point that people have been killed for honking their horn at or accidentally cutting off the wrong person. To avoid getting into road rage to begin with, the key is not to ride aggressively and upset those other drivers. That means no tailgating, cutting people off, honking your horn unnecessarily, giving people the finger, or similar actions.
You might be in a big rush during your ride home, or perhaps the best corners of a canyon pass are just ahead and Grandma is chatting on her cell phone holding you up, but you have to rein in your emotions and ride with your head rather than getting aggressive toward another driver. For sure that can be frustrating, but venting that frustration on other drivers is most likely not going to help anyway. And this includes passive-aggressiveness too, like riding slowly to upset the driver with bright lights behind you or giving Grandma a long stare when you eventually go past; as satisfying as it might be, avoid anything that can set off a reaction from the other driver.
Just as you must avoid any aggression that may instigate road rage, you can do your part to prevent something flaring up by not reacting to an incident that could turn into a full-blown encounter. That means giving the driver who honked at you a friendly wave rather than the finger or just moving out of the way when someone edges over into your lane rather than kicking their door. Again, as frustrating as it might be to check your emotions, and as satisfying as it might be to put a nice big dent in the door of a driver who cut you off, there’s a good chance all you will end up doing is ratcheting up the aggression level a notch or three.
If things do get out of hand for whatever reason, know that you and your motorcycle stand a good chance of coming out on the losing end against a car in any kind of Grand Theft Auto scrap. Whatever happens, do not stop and get off your bike to confront the other driver; standing at the side of the road you are even more vulnerable, and you just don’t know how far the person in the car is willing to go. Yes, you might have your helmet on to protect you, and be recording everything with your video camera, but what will you do if John Rambo hops out of the car with an M60?
The best thing you can do at this point is just ride away; whatever happened, it is not worth risking danger to you or your bike over. Here, being on your bike will actually work in your favor, as you have better mobility to get through traffic and far more options. Chances are the other driver will simply give up and the situation will be done with, but should they be doggedly determined to track you down, happily lead them right to the nearest police station rather than your home or workplace.
Once the situation has defused and you are back on your way, chances are you will be upset and frustrated about what just happened and enough so that it might come out as aggression against other drivers, starting the whole cycle over again. Furthermore, if you let yourself be distracted by what just happened (or even during the incident itself), you are at an increased risk of getting in an accident because you are not paying attention. There’s an overriding theme here, as the title says: Keep calm and carry on. Focus on the task at hand, and analyze the incident later when you can think about it more logically. Consider how it started and if you could have done anything differently to prevent it from happening or extricate yourself earlier.