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How to avoid succumbing to road rage

Incidents of road rage often spike during the summer. Heat and humidity coupled with tourists driving too slowly as they try to find their way around unfamiliar areas can bring out the worst in some drivers. Since the term was introduced almost 30 years ago, "road rage" has come to include everything from aggressive driving and profanity-laced shouting matches to fatal shootings.

One threat assessment blames road rage on "narcissistic pride" as well as "a need for control, to dominate someone else and their un-shareable space." Even normally mild-mannered people can be pushed beyond their limit by a poor driver, traffic delays and other stresses that we all encounter on the road.

Before you let your anger at another driver get the better of you, remember that you don't know with whom you're dealing until it's too late. Last month, former Saints football player Will Smith was shot to death and his wife wounded by a man whom he got out of his vehicle to confront after the man reportedly rear-ended him.

Besides your own safety, take a moment to consider the legal and financial consequences before you confront another driver. In Connecticut, road rage is considered, at a minimum, 3rd degree criminal mischief for adults and a felony misdemeanor for juveniles. You could also lose your driver's license and be held civilly liable by the other party. Of course, if injuries or worse are incurred, you could find yourself in serious legal jeopardy.

One way to reduce your chances of getting involved in a road rage incident is to be aware of where and when it's statistically most likely to happen. The Auto Insurance Center uncovered some interesting findings based on a study of over 65,000 Instagram posts that included the hashtag #RoadRage. Not surprisingly, the Friday after-work commute was up there. The month when most road rage accidents occurred was August. Researchers cited a combination of increased alcohol consumption and holiday traffic as contributing factors.

In Los Angeles, which the study found to have the highest number of road rage incidents of any city, the police department offers some advice on its website for avoiding it: "Smile and let someone move into your lane….You'd be surprised at the power positive actions can have, because you're an important link in any chain reaction of driving events which can occur around you."

Source: NBC News, "Want to Avoid the Summer's Worst Road Rage? Don't Drive at This Time," Lucy Bayly, May 14, 2016

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