Road Rage Rules- How to Protect Yourself From Aggressive Drivers

Hey, you, in the silver Honda HR-V with the Disney passholder sticker. You could have died in a road rage incident today. You may not even recognize the danger you put yourself and your child into. Did you know that Florida is number one in the United States for road rage incidents with a gun?

Fortunately for you, it was me behind you with a calm temperament, rather than an enraged AND unstable person with a weapon. I rolled up behind you merging into the left turn lanes. Your car was in the middle of both lanes. I sent a quick and friendly “beep” your way to make you aware that you were blocking a lane and traffic was backing up behind you. 

Perhaps you were having a rough morning. But rather than moving into one lane, you angrily flipped me off. Then, I noticed you begin to take pictures of my car. The light changed and I continued to move on towards my destination, hopeful that this stranger driving with a child in the car would calm down.

Think Before You Act

I don’t write this to shame anyone. But perhaps the shock value of contemplating mortality driving down Dale Mabry Highway will make you think. 

It was just last summer when a man was shot in the face in an otherwise safe, suburban neighborhood outside Tampa. The victim had flashed his brights to let the other car know his lights were off. That same month, in the same town, a man fired a gun at another car during another road rage incident. And this past January, a victim lost their life on State Road 54 in Land O Lakes after being shot in yet another incident. 

Road Rage On the Rise in Florida

According to a recent ABC Action News article, road rage incidents in Florida grew by 71 percent from 2014-2017. The story claims that since 2014, 20 people have been killed and 60 more injured in road rage incidents involving firearms. Frightening statistics to contemplate. 

Yet, I cannot write this story without admitting that occasionally I have flipped a non-friendly bird in the direction of a bad driver. But for me, that changed the day I was affected by road rage.

Chased by a Mad Man

While on the way to an event at my son’s school, I turned left onto a one lane suburban, tree-lined street. The speed limit on this road is 30mph, as it parallels a walking trail through a neighborhood. I glanced in my rear-view mirror to see a large, silver pick-up truck flying up the road towards the back of my car. 

I refused to speed up. He was angrily tail-gating me, gesticulating wildly. I could see him screaming and cursing in the driver seat of his truck. This was a one-lane road and I had no place to go. I did not turn into the parking lot of my son’s school and continued straight with a mad man practically in my trunk. 

I reached the end of the road and did not signal. He began to go left but as I turned right, he slammed on his brakes, changed course, and went in my direction. I briefly moved into a turning lane for a local school to see if he was actually following me. He was. He did the same. At this point, I dialed 911. The man followed me for a few more miles before I finally lost him. Shaking, I realized I could not even provide a license plate number to the police. 

I realized the man could have shot me. He could have slammed into my vehicle with his large pick-up and harmed me. And, since he got away, I wonder how many other people he has aggressively, tailgated. Even more frighteningly, has he harmed an innocent driver? 

How to Stay Safe in a Road Rage Situation

The incident was a harsh reminder of the dangers you may encounter driving. A month later, my adrenaline still rises when I drive down that same road and spot a silver pick-up truck behind me. While we cannot control the actions of others, we can take steps to protect ourselves during a road rage incident. 

  1. Protect yourself. Ensure your doors are locked and windows shut. If you are stopped at a red light, make certain the person cannot enter your vehicle. 
  1. Don’t react! If a driver is being aggressive, your inclination may be to engage with them. Do your best to ignore them. Avoid making eye contact. You do not know their mind frame. And your inaction may diffuse a potentially explosive situation.
  1. Move out of the way! If you are able to change lanes, turn down a street or make a U-turn. Let the enraged driver go. Let this person be the one to get a speeding ticket, or worse. 
  1. Do not go home. If you believe you are being followed, do not let the enraged person know where you live, or where your destination is. In fact, head to your nearest police or fire station. 
  1. If you are stopped at a light, leave space between your car and others. This should allow you to quickly leave the situation without becoming trapped in traffic.
  1. Be aware and alert. Do not drive distracted! Stay off your cell phone and keep your focus on the task at hand- safely driving. 
  1. It’s not you, it’s them! Take a deep breath and remember that this is not personal. You may be dealing with someone unstable with a temper. This person’s issues are not your fault. 
  1. If the driver continues to be aggressive, call 911 to report the incident. The life you could be saving may be your own.


Boymom, wife, daughter, friend and aspiring weather photographer, Wendy moved to Tampa 12 years ago to escape winter in the Northeast…but still see plenty of AL East baseball. It was through her love of the New York Yankees she flirted her way to a first date with the man she’d eventually marry, Mike. Along with a husband, she gained stepson Damon (now 17), who she loves like her own. And, in 2013, completed the family by welcoming the sweetest little boy in the world, Logan. In addition to being surrounded by three handsome guys, Wendy works full time in the corporate world. Somewhere between Mom life and work life she finds time to enjoy fitness, travel, reading, watching too many cooking competition shows and more HGTV than should be allowed. She’s also a self-proclaimed news junkie who loves to stay up to date on current events. A native of Queens, NY, Wendy holds a BA in Journalism from State University of New York at New Paltz.