Don’t get caught up in a road-rage incident this holiday weekend
As we begin the Memorial Day weekend, Jersey residents are hitting the road, going to the shore and visiting friends and relatives.
Travel experts are urging all New Jerseyans to avoid confrontations with other drivers that could turn ugly, or even deadly.
“This is the time when we have an abundance of travelers on New Jersey roadways, which tend to be quite crowded. And unfortunately, road rage goes hand-in-hand with those motorists,” said Tracy Noble, a spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
She said people tend to lose patience and get frustrated, so when you head out onto the highway, “give yourself some extra time to get to your destination, and if you do encounter somebody with a road-rage incident, by all means, do not engage.”
So what exactly does engage mean?
“Avoid making eye contact, avoid extending rude gestures — it’s not something you want to be involved with simply because you don’t know what is going on in that other vehicle,” said Noble.
“You don’t want to further enrage them. It’s not worth it, and it’s not worth taking your concentration off the road.”
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She pointed out in many instances people are good-natured and they don’t deliberately cut off other motorists or behave in an aggressive manner. So if something like this happens, “give them a break, accept that people do in fact make mistakes while they’re driving.”
Sometimes, however, a dangerous, aggressive driving maneuver is not a mistake.
“If a person is actively trying to cut in front of you, or they are trying to block you from changing lanes, simply get away from them if you can,” she said.
“And if that means that you have to slow down, then slow down, if you have to change lanes to avoid them, then you change lanes, be the responsible party, you don’t want to be involved with somebody who is maybe not thinking clearly at the moment.”
And not thinking clearly can mean real trouble.
“You don’t know who the person is, you don’t know what their reaction is going to be, and unfortunately you don’t know if they’ve got firearms in the vehicle,” said Noble.
“People have come out of vehicles and thrown punches, people have shot at other people— you don’t know what is going on in somebody else’s mind, you only know what is going on in your mind.”
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She added if you feel yourself getting angry and caught up in a confrontation, chill out.
“If that means pulling off the road or going into a rest stop and cooling off for 5 minutes that’s your best bet because it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation and everybody seems to be rushed for time and multi-tasking while they’re behind the wheel, Noble says, which makes road rage incidents more likely to happen, especially during the warmer weather months.
“We need to take time to breathe and get to our destination safely,” she said.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com