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Road rage triggers, avoidance explained by psychologist

(NewsNation) — Road rage is on the rise across the country, and law enforcement is encouraging drivers to stay safe and calm behind the wheel. One wrong move, whether it’s a honk or cutting someone off, could potentially turn deadly.

A report from Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization advocating for gun control, said that 2021 was the deadliest yearx, with a person being hurt or killed during a road rage incident every 17 hours.

Road rage shootings have gone up year over year, from close to 250 hurt or killed in 2018 to 391 hurt and 131 killed in 2021, Everytown reported.

On average, that is 44 people hurt or killed in road rage incidents per month, which Everytown said is double pre-pandemic numbers.

Psychologist Dr. Ryan Martin, the associate dean and psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, said on “Morning in America” that a lot of it has to do with perceived anonymity in that situation, that people feel like they can get away with things that they wouldn’t normally be able to.

He also explained that a recent survey said that gender also plays a role and that males are more likely to lash out in all sorts of ways, including using their cars as weapons, in a way that females do not.

“It’s worth noting that this mirrors what we see about anger more broadly, that males tend to express their anger aggressively more often than when they [females] do,” Martin said.

Martin shared some tips on how to react during a road rage incident and how to avoid them overall. He said that when it comes to oneself, the first thing someone should do is identify as someone who wants to stay calm in this situation.

“Starting from that perspective is really, really important,” Martin said. “When you find yourself in those moments that get heated, take time to sort of back off, take deep breaths and depending on how things are, consider pulling over and getting away from the situation.

Martin said his best advice to people if they are caught up in a situation where someone else is angry is that they not engage with those drivers.

“There’s really no good that can come from expressing your anger on the road or engaging with an already aggressive person on the road,” Martin said.

In Los Angeles, a recent road rage incident left the victim stunned. A man swerved and cut off a driver, jumped out of his car with a pipe and beat the victim’s car window.

The victim, who asked to remain anonymous, shared his experience with NewsNation.

“I was thinking, ‘This guy is crazy.’ I was wondering, ‘What should I do?’ Because you always think, ‘Oh, I’ll just run him over or hit him with my car.’ But when you are actually there, it took a lot of restraint to even process what was going on,” the driver explained.

But situations like this are happening across the country, and recent incidents in Florida, Ohio and Texas have left people shot and injured.

“I think he’s going to pass me, but instead of passing me, he takes his car and rams it into the back right rear wheel of my car,” Jerry Riggins, who lives in Austin, Texas, and was a victim of road rage told NewsNation.

Law enforcement agencies across the country said they are stepping up patrols on the roads with task forces and unmarked cars to be able to spot and stop reckless driving.