It came out of the blue. As you rode your bicycle on the street, unexpectedly, a motorist begins screaming at you and threateningly swerves his car in your direction. You sense this is a dangerous situation, do not engage with the driver and hightail it out of there. Road rage. It happens. When it does, do not ponder why this incident occurred. There are many reasons.

You just cannot get inside the head of an angry and unreasonable driver, who may have been having a bad day, felt slighted by some imagined offense on your part, or simply just dislikes sharing the road with bicyclists. If you find yourself in this situation, you must be prepared in ways that include diffusing the situation, departing as quickly as possible and, even, defending yourself.

Do not engage with the driver

Road rage remains a hazard for all bicyclists and drivers. Sadly, these incidents likely will not subside. The AAA Foundation for Safety reviewed 10,000 road rage incidents during a recent seven-year period and discovered that they led to at least 218 murders and more than 12,600 injuries. It is unknown the number of incidents that involved bicyclists and drivers.

When it comes to road rage incidents, here are some tips for bicyclists:

  • Bring along a video camera while riding. If caught in a road rage incident, record the confrontation.
  • Do not engage with the driver. When confronted by a driver, do not argue.
  • If the driver stops his car and exits it, get out of there. Pronto. Ride to somewhere safe and distance yourself from the driver. Bicycles are much more easily maneuverable, and you can travel on sidewalks, in alleys and even building lobbies.
  • After an incident in which a driver flees, pull over to a safe area and call law enforcement, making sure to provide a description of the vehicle and the driver, license plate, location of incident and vehicle’s direction of travel. If possible, get witness statements.
  • Prepare to defend yourself. Place your bike between you and the driver. However, be careful about getting involved in a violent confrontation because you may be labeled as the aggressor.

Obeying the traffic laws and being a courteous rider do not prevent bicyclists from being targeted by enraged motorists. Avoiding such situations altogether is really what you should try to do. However, if you cannot, protect yourself and contact authorities.