Road Rage

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

One of the phenomenon of our times is the anger that drivers encounter on the road and the things which that anger causes them to do. These can range anywhere from yelling at other drivers and flipping them the bird to cutting them off dangerously close and even taking violent action. I’ve seen situations where road rage pushed people to get out of their cars at a stop light and beat on the car next to them.

Much of this rage actually has nothing to do with the driver it is directed at; rather it is caused by the stress in those individual’s lives. It’s not uncommon for people heading home from a bad day at work to be sitting behind the wheel, fuming about the day. When in that condition, it’s easy for even the smallest thing to set them off, resulting in them taking out their anger and stress on other drivers who might have had just as bad a day as they did.

I’ve found that when people are inexplicably angry, the root of that anger often has nothing to do with what set them off. This is part of where abusive relationships come from, as we are all most likely to let our guards down and show our anger at home, whereas we wouldn’t dare let our boss’ see it. Understanding that I may not be the issue has helped me deal with those angry people a large number of times.

If we understand that the rage they are displaying at us may not have anything to do with us, it’s much easier to let it roll off our backs and ignore it. That’s important. Many of the serious altercations that happen in road rage, as well as in life in general, happen because neither party is willing to back off.

Our goal, you and I, isn’t to win the fight, but to win the altercation. Winning, in this sense, isn’t that we defeat the other guy; it’s that we get out of the situation, without suffering any harm. That may very well include being forced to inflict harm on the other guy, but we’re always better off avoiding that if we can. In my book, running away and avoiding the fight qualifies as winning the altercation, even if it isn’t winning the fight.

With that in mind, our best action in such a situation is to find a way to get away from that other driver, even if it takes us out of our way. One easy way to do that is to simple turn at the next corner. Another is to hit the brakes. Everyone expects you to punch the gas to try and get away, because that’s what they would do, so when you hit the brakes instead, it throws them off and causes them to run away from you. You can then decide if you need to make a turn or just hold back until they cool off.

The one thing you don’t want to do is to show them that you’re armed. Showing your gun, without provocation, is considered brandishing a firearm, a misdemeanor. But it can also be considered to be threatening with a gun or aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, depending on the DA pressing the charges. You could end up losing your license to carry or even going to jail for what you may be thinking is nothing more than a simple warning to the other guy to “back off.”

Does this mean you can never draw a firearm in such a situation? By no means. In fact, if there is any risk that the other driver will get out of their car to assault you or will try to ram your car with theirs, then the first thing you should do is draw your firearm. Just don’t let them see you do it. It’s hard to draw a pistol from a holster in a car, so you don’t want to wait until the last moment to do so, no matter how fast a draw you have. Be ready, just don’t be obvious about it.

As in any other situation, it’s only self-defense if the other guy takes the first violent action. While that may take away the tactical advantage, it allows you to retain the legal advantage. Choosing which one to give away is never an easy choice, but you can’t afford to ignore one for the other.

By and large, I try to stay away from anyone on the road who looks like they might be a danger. This includes people who are driving with their heads in their phones, are weaving, are driving erratically, are driving fast, or are driving slow. I’m not one of those drivers who think that I’m in a contest every time I get behind the wheel, unless the contest is to see who can arrive safely at their destination.

Life may not be as “exciting” that way, but it allows me to maintain one of my main goals – keeping my family safe. That goes along well with keeping my powder dry and my survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich

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