Road Rage; Redux!

Posted by: John W. Zimmer
Under: Self-defense
20 Jun 2010

My wife (Sly) recently had an experience witnessing road rage that has mademe revisit this issue. Sly was driving in a 35 mph zone behind on car when another come up on the side and tried to cut in front of her suddenly! Sly stomped on her brakes and the guy waived to her and swerved back out. The guy then sped up past the car in front and cut him off and stopped suddenly! Sly again stomped on her brakes and came to a stop. Both cars doors ahead flew open and the guys ran towards each other screaming. Sly drove around when she could to escape the madness!

While I don’t know what ended up happening in this case, it did upset me because my wife almost hit a car twice inside of a minute due to aggressive drivers. I previously posted about, “Road Rage!” and “Road Rage! What About Sticks and Stones?” but I think aggressive driving legitimately has a place in the context of self defense because one never knows if it will lead to an attack.

In this post I am going to focus on how to stay safe if you find yourself in the middle of a road rage incident. While I do not want to make lite of this issue – I thought I would demonstrate the mentality (or lack thereof) of the participants in an aggressive driving or road rage situation in this video to set the stage.





Did you notice how easily this escalated? While (hopefully) this might be an extreme example of the escalation, it did show how each lady wanted to be right, get even and win the one upmanship contest! The real losers in this were all of the innocent bystanders. It is one thing if both drivers choose to participate in this but quite another if anyone else’s life or property is affected!!!


Here is how this works. One driver slights another driver somehow (perceived or real) and the driver aims to get even – after all (and you have seen the signs) he DOES own the whole damn road! So the other driver (who may be unaware of the slight – or not) gets accosted verbally by the first driver and decides the deed is no good – He, NOT the slighted driver, owns the whole damn road! Before we go on – this is a good point to insert today’s song that each driver should take to heart.




So what are your responsibilities when you are driving a one ton missile? Does your missile have a hair trigger or a sufficient safety mechanism. I would argue that a driver has the responsibility to take every reasonable step to NOT engage in aggressive behaviour with their car and if someone tries to egg you on – you make every attempt to diffuse the situation! Watch this video and think of how some of this might have been avoided.


Warning – Some Strong language in this video


Watching this video we have no idea who started this fight. We might glean that the guy outside of the car started the physical confrontation but my guess is both guys might have egged each otheron. Who is charged and convected in a court of law is a matter for the police and courts but if you were the guy inside of the car – what would you have done to de-escalate the situation?


Do you have to respond if a guy calls you a name? Do you have to respond if a guy cuts you off? Do you have to move over if a guy is trying to pass you and you are going the speed limit? Before I give you my answer to these questions I would like to introduce you to the concept of shared libility. What this says in a nut shell (depending on the laws where you are) is one may be liable if he or she was partially responsible for an event. What I take this to mean is if during the participation in a road rage incident, say both parties start fighting in middle of a street and another car swerves to avoid hitting the fighters and crashes into a mother and child on the side walk – both road rage participants may be held responsible!


Another consideration if one resorts to open fighting and the had a way out – what if the aggressor is killed? I mean so what he started it – did you have the right to defend yourself or could you have walked away – taken some verbal abuse and property damage? Would a smashed head light be worth the life of the aggressor? I mean do you know if the aggressor was a father, husband, son, or otherwise had people that depended on his but had an aggression problem?


Now that I have mentioned the obvious (maybe not so obvious), I’d like you to see a what to do about road rage video put out by videojug. Sorry but you will have to click the road rage video link to view this on youtube because they do not allow embedding. One thing to note is the Britt’s seemingly call “cutting people off”  as “cutting people up.” :)


The video makes a good point about not holding your ground if someone wants to get past you because you have no idea what is going through the other person’s mind. I mean he may be heading off to his child’s hospital after getting a call she was in a terrible accident. Someone in a compromised mental state might do things he would not normally do. It makes sense to give the other person the benefit of the doubt. If everyone did this – there would be less road rage incidents I think.


Ok – what should you do if you find yourself the focus of a road rage incident? Try to diffuse the situation by not responding vocally or with gestures. If cornered – do not get out of the car. If you take on some property damage to your car – try and keep things in perspective – I mean is that worth you, your family or him going to the hospital or worse? Your insurance and the police should be the ones to sort it all out – way easier if you are not a co-participant in the lunacy!


What if you have no other choice other than to defend yourself? Then you do what you have to do – mitigated by the reasonable man standard. This standard is more of a legal concept that you might be judged by the police and a court of  law. Do only what you have to do to end the conflict. If you knock a guy down you can hold him but hammering him with blows might not be considered reasonable if witnesses thought you had bested him already. You definitely should not fight past the point where you have incapacitated him.


Why don’t I talk more about how to defend yourself against road rage? Mostly I think this is silly and mostly avoidable. I was guilty of getting caught up in some incidents when I was a kid and came out ok but in retrospect I was really lucky no one got seriously hurt. As with most fighting if you cannot answer the question, what is so worth risking my life for? – then you have no business participating!


I am happy to say Sly came out ok from the idiots raging on the road and she handled it ok but had she realized what was happening sooner – she would have given them even more space I’d bet. That is the tricky thing because you don’t know if a couple of cars are street racing or what. As soon as she realized they were after each other- she gave them a wide berth.


I would argue the best defense is not a good offence but rather the avoidance of the conflict altogether!

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3 Responses to “Road Rage; Redux!”

  1. TheMartialArtsReporter Says:

    Great post, John.
    I so agree with you that being aware and thus avoiding conflict/escalation in reference to road rage is part
    of effective self-defense!
    I’m glad that Sly came home safely.
    It’s a jungle out there (at times).
    Thanks again for the great post, John.
    TheMartialArtsReporter recently posted..The French Foreign Legion: Ultimate Modern-Day Warriors And Their Rendezvous With DangerMy Profile

  2. Matt Klein Says:

    Entertaining video John, you could just feel the adrenalin coursing through your veins as this escalated. I found myself snap kicking the air trying to get that door open and get out of the car. If a guy gets in another’s face like that he probably deserves to get knocked on his butt.

    The two ladies in the cars were absolutely hilarious. What’s funny is that accident statistics show most car wrecks are avoidable, but people don’t want to back down. This was a classic, John.
    Matt Klein recently posted..Karate Kid vs. Kung Fu KidMy Profile

  3. Eharris Says:

    People are crazy. Road rage, excessive drinking, whatever, you have to be ready. BTW, I carry the Best Stun Gun