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Road rage is a growing problem in Sonora. This is an event which no one is immune from. You may have witnessed a case of road rage, caused it, or even been a victim of it. Do your part to minimize road rage by respecting other drivers and recognizing signs of rage in yourself and others.

What is road rage? It’s when one driver reacts angrily towards another driver. In expressing that anger, the driver might make an obscene gesture, yell, honk their horn, abruptly brake, tailgate, cut off or force a vehicle off the roadway, become physical or even display or use a weapon.

Why is road rage on the rise? Part of it is sensory overload. Our roads are becoming more and more congested just as we’re feeling more and more stressed in our lives. People may feel powerless or frustrated in their lives, but behind the wheel of their 3,000 pound vehicle, there’s an urge to vent their stress and aggression toward an anonymous driver.

While there are no sure ways to avoid becoming the victim of road rage, experts offer these suggestions;

• Be a courteous and defensive driver. Maintain a safe speed and safe following distance. Signal your moves. Use your horn and lights appropriately. Try not to offend other drivers by cutting them off, tailgating or driving slowly in the fast lane.

• Concentrate on your driving, not on passengers, cell phones, I-Pods or other distractions.

• Don’t overreact to other drivers’ errors. Don’t challenge them by speeding up, slowing down or blocking lanes.

• Don’t engage an angry driver. Avoid eye contact. Ignore rude gestures and the temptation to return them. Get out of their way, but don’t pull off the roadway and try to settle things.

• If you think a driver is harassing you or trying to start a fight call the Sonora Police Department at 532-8141 or 911. Remember, if you dial 911 from your cell phone, you will be calling the Merced CHP office, which in turn, will transfer you to the Sonora Police Department.

• If you’re being pursued, drive to a safe, well light, populated area, such as a shopping plaza, or the police department. Keep your doors locked and wait for help to arrive. Don’t drive home, as the aggressor will then know where you live.

You can’t control other drivers but you can control yourself. Monitor yourself. Most road rage involves displaced anger. If you think you have a problem, get help. If you’re tense and stressed, avoid taking it out on others on the road. Forget winning. Driving to and from work or the store is not a contest. Give yourself extra time, control your behavior and help keep rage off the road.

If you need any further information regarding this topic, please call the Sonora Police Department at 532-8141.