GUEST COMMENTARY: Keep a cool head to avoid road rage perils

2013-09-15T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Keep a cool head to avoid road rage perilsBrian Miller nwitimes.com
September 15, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Aggressive driving, also known as road rage, has made the region headlines. In early August, a 61-year-old Cook County correctional officer fatally shot a 23-year-old East Chicago resident in an aggressive driving incident. Allegedly, the altercation started when the elderly male “cut off” the victim.

A witness stated the young victim yelled at the suspect and threw a soft drink cup at the man’s van. During this encounter, the older male allegedly fired a handgun at the victim, causing a fatal wound.

Because a subject was driving aggressively, or just plain inattentively, an argument ensued. The argument turned to violence, and one young man’s life has ended and another ruined.

Indiana law defines “aggressive driving” as a series of intentional acts -— such as following too closely, unsafe stopping of a vehicle and unnecessary sounding of the horn — with the intent to harass or annoy another motorist.

While most aggressive driving laws are somewhat subjective, we can all agree “road rage” is a dangerous situation that can easily involve anyone as the victim or perpetrator.

To avoid these incidents, try and be a cautious, courteous driver. Refrain from creating a situation that may provoke another individual. Avoid tailgating, driving slowly in the left lane or excessive honking.

Even when we’re driving as carefully as possible, we can still anger another motorist unintentionally. Changing lanes when another car is too close or forgetting to use our directional indicator to signal a lane change are mistakes we all make. When someone loses their temper because of your actions/inaction it’s important not to react. Don’t engage the other driver when they honk their horn at you, yell or flash hand gestures.

Keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, and avoid any actions that may antagonize another driver. Avoid shaking your head or anything that may provoke an altercation. Even staring back at the offender may start a violent incident.

If the other driver takes it to the next level and cuts you off or jams on their brakes, don’t take the bait. Immediately slow down, and give the aggressive driver lots of room. If the other driver continues to engage you, try and get away from the situation as soon as possible. Call the police if the aggressive driver continues to make you feel unsafe.

When someone drives in a manner that offends you, keep your cool. Put yourself in their shoes. The other driver may have a reason for that erratic lane change. He may have spilled coffee, missed an exit or swerved to avoid a hazard. No matter what the reason is for bad driving, it doesn’t personally involve you.

Drive safe always and drive with a cool head. Remember, the life you save may be your own.

Brian Miller is Hammond's police chief. The opinions are the writer's.

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