ARTICLE

Road Rage: Angry Drivers & Cyclists

Unfortunately, not everyone is comfortable sharing the road.

Altercations between cyclists and drivers are pretty standard fare for certain types of riders, especially for those who ride through urban areas. Heated arguments, offensive hand gestures, and other signs of road rage impact cyclists nearly every day.

It’s a sad reality, but it’s one many of us have to deal with regularly. Simple Bike Insurance is here to talk about how serious road rage is, how common traffic-related injuries and fatalities are, ways cyclists can avoid confrontations with angry drivers, and ultimately how to prevent situations from escalating.

Drivers Vs. Cyclists: The Statistics

Unfortunately, in the United States just a few years ago there were upwards of 850 cyclists killed in traffic-related incidents (i.e. crashes or collisions with cars). The year 2018 saw a 7% increase in traffic-related cyclist fatalities compared to the year before. According to a different source, on average there were two cyclists killed a day because of car crashes that same year.

While these fatalities were caused by car crashes or collisions with cyclists, road rage certainly isn’t necessarily the main culprit. Of course, drivers who are distracted are more likely to injure or even kill a cyclist sharing the road. Cyclist deaths are also more than three times more likely to occur in urban areas as opposed to rural ones.

Even though many cities and universities are making their spaces friendlier towards cyclists, the roads are still dangerous. Angry drivers may not respectfully share the road for several reasons including:

  • Feeling cyclists are taking up too much space
  • Wanting to go faster than the cyclists in their lane
  • General recklessness
  • Not understanding right-of-way or other legal traffic laws
  • And countless others

Cyclists are at risk for being clipped, being forced to ride where it’s riskier (gutters, door zones, etc.), forced to race through red lights, and being flipped off or cursed at. Of course, the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, it can be difficult in the event of a collision to prove that a driver is being reckless or even intentionally harmful. This is why it’s so important that cyclists have a safe space to ride without having to face road rage from drivers on the road. It’s also important for cyclists to take precautions when riding and learn how to protect themselves.

So what does this mean? Cyclists are at risk for injury or even death because of unsafe drivers on the road, and that risk increases in urban areas and cities. Now that we understand how serious this issue is, let’s take a look at ways cyclists can protect themselves and avoid such horrific situations.

Tips For Cyclists To Avoid Drivers With Road Rage

This may seem painfully obvious, but avoiding road rage is one of the best lines of defense against it. By practicing safe behaviors, cyclists can decrease the chances of being involved in a road rage incident.

Stay alert

Again, this may seem pretty obvious but it’s necessary to point out. Staying engaged and alert while riding can help cyclists avoid accidents and collisions with vehicles.

Carry a smartphone or mobile phone

Should an accident occur, a smartphone can be used to document the scene (videos, photos, etc.) and possibly even call the authorities.

Wear protective gear

Helmets, helmets, helmets! They save lives, enough said.

Use reflectors and lights at night

Cyclists are more at risk of being clipped or hit at night if they aren’t highly visible.

Stick to the right side of the road, but don’t hug the gutter

Riding on sidewalks can not only increase the risk of a pedestrian collision, but it’s also illegal in some areas. When riding in the road, stay on the right side of the street and slightly towards the right side of the lane. Riding too close to the gutter may put cyclists at risk for being clipped by a car trying to pass.

What Cyclists Can Do To Protect Themselves

We already have some tips and tricks up our sleeves to stay safe out there. What else can we do to protect ourselves in case things get even more serious, or go totally off the rails?

If road rage escalates, try to diffuse and stay calm

Even though it can feel good to let out mirroring rage (and sometimes arguably justified), doing so can add more fuel to an already pretty ugly fire. Many experts suggest trying to de-escalate or physically distancing from the enraged driver and vehicle.

Be overly cautious of someone who gets out of their car

If an angry driver throws their car in park and starts to get out of the car, it’s best to not engage. This is a major red flag and warning sign that things are going to get much worse.

Check for people who may have seen what happened

During or after a road rage incident, check the area out. If anyone is around who saw what happened, they might be a witness should one be needed.

Invest in a bicycle insurance policy

If a bicycle is damaged during a vehicle collision, a policy can cover the repairs and even the cost of renting a temporary replacement. In the event cycling accessories or safety gear were also damaged, those might be covered by a bike insurance policy as well.

Keep a camera handy

Consider mounting a camera on a helmet or handlebars to record each ride just in case. Alternatively, a smartphone camera can be used after an incident occurs to record evidence of damage or an angry driver’s disposition.

Call the cops or file a report

In the event of an emergency, serious injury, etc. contact the authorities immediately. If it’s not an emergency, at the very least a police report can be filed shortly afterward.

Road rage and vehicle collisions are serious problems that many cyclists encounter. Always remember to wear a helmet, avoid unnecessary conflict, and stay calm out there.

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