Road Rage in Region 8

March 9, 2004 -- Posted at 3:45 p.m. CST

JONESBORO -- According to the New York Times, a recent Gallup poll reported that motorists were more worried about road rage than about drunk it's no wonder that folks here in Region 8 are concerned. But how do you avoid road rage, and what should you do if it happens to you?

Tailgating, driving too slow and not using turn signals--we're all guilty. It's these actions that can trigger road rage...

"There are a lot of aggressive drivers and I think sometimes their maneuvers cause people to have a high powered emotional reaction. I think the basic premise is that there's lots of stress and we're a society that carries around a lot of anger that we've not tended to and I think it gets channeled on the roadway," said Jayni Blackburn, Director of Education at Mid-South Health Systems.

While we tend to associate aggressive drivers with road rage, it's not always the case.

"I think if we understand that people are busy that they're stressed, that they have a lot of anger and now they're behind the wheel of this massive vehicle that they may use that as a means of controlling and ventilating in a way that's not healthy for the rest of us," said Blackburn.

And it's those emotions that can take you from being a motorist to becoming a what should you do if you find yourself facing road rage?

Sgt. Doug Forman with the Jonesboro Police Department said, "If you know you're going to be a victim of road rage and they won't leave you alone and they're still following you and are trying to get you to pull over, best thing to do is come directly to the police department."

Blackburn agreed, "Don't have eye contact, don't use any kind of gestures, when there is an emotional feeling because that will provoke somebody whose already stressed....always use your signals, follow the speed limit, take your time, drive as though your life depended on it, because it does."

Just staying aware and being an alert driver can keep you out of trouble.

"The best thing to do to avoid it is to drive safely. If you drive safely and obey the laws, you use your turn signals, that really seems to make a lot of people mad, use your turn signals, be a courteous driver than usually other people won't get upset with you and usually the road rage won't even start in the first place," said Sgt. Forman.

And an interesting bit of trivia about the phrase "road rage." It was first introduced as a term in the late 1980's and has been listed in the Oxford English Dictionary since 1997.