What is road rage?
Road rage is an emotional demon that haunts the roads, particularly interstates. A person in a highly emotional state may become aggrivated by the actions of another driver -- resulting in a sick, twisted attempt at revenge which much too often steps outside both laws of reason and laws of legislature. This is road rage.
What are symptoms of road rage?
The first and choiciest weapon in a road rager's arsenal is the act of tailgating -- Our enraged driver will move himself closer to his victim, generally to within a few feet. This has the effect of scaring the bejeezus out of the victim, whom will notice that there is no way he can stop without causing a wreck. This is often employed when the victim is going too slow for the rager, who would as a general rule of thumb prefer a speed more on the order of "too god damn fast" (20-30mph over the speed limit.).
This sort of behavior serves as excellent reminder of what a flaming dumbass a person can become when they lose their temper. As you might imagine, the rager is risking his own life even more than that of the car in front of him. Not only will all his force be directed into a solid object, but he is also going to wind up being sandwiched by any other cars that crash behind him.
This is not to say that the victim will escape scott free. Unfortunately, the people who die in an accident are very often the people who did absolutely nothing wrong. It appears that those who are drunk or otherwise unnaturally relaxed will survive car crashes more often than those who are sober and sane, due to their tendancy to not resist and roll with the shakes and bounces.
Road ragers also tend to swerve a lot, not being terribly concerned with picking a spot in their lane and sticking with it. They also like to yell at you out the window if at all possible, and hit their horns a lot. These last two become extremely popular with them in traffic jams, at which time they believe that the person immediately in front of them is responsible for the entire ordeal.
What if I have a road rager behind me?
What do you do if you're being targetted? Firstly...do not take it as a challenge, or as an affront to your manhood, or anything of the sort. Take a very deep breath, and imagine that your are Spock for a moment. Do what is necessary to make everything safe. Do not concern yourself with whether this will "pay that rat bastard back" or what he will think of you. It's not worth it to pay him back if you wind up flipped over, on fire, with three dead kids or friends in the back.
Firstly, bump up your speed by a couple miles, or until you've reached the upper end of safe speeds, whichever comes first. Is he still tailgating you? Change lanes, preferably into a slower one. If he follows you, he's definitely pissed off about something.
Now, wait for a clearing off to both sides, wide enough for him to make a very, very sudden lane change. Flash your brake lights, taking -extreme- care not to actually apply your brakes. The idea here is to remind him that you may need to slow down for any number of reasons, and that following you so closely is a bad idea. He may panic and swerve off to the side, thinking you are actually slowing. This is why you made sure that you had some clearing on either side.
If his behavior still doesn't change...Take an exit. Only the really, really dangerous psychopaths will actually follow you. If they do...Make sure either you or your passenger checks the mirror and gets the guy's license plate. Then, for god's sake, don't stop unless there are a lot of people around.
Should you get rear-ended by a tailgater, it may be a relief to know that in many places, a rear-ender is -always- considered to be the fault of the person on the rear-end. You could slam on your brakes on the Interstate in these places and get off scott free, I think. The idea behind this is that if you are following a car, it is your duty to make certain you have enough distance to handle any sudden stops they may need to make.
What sort of person can become a road rager?
It's very, very easy to get angry with the faceless villain in the blue car in front of you who just cut you off, then insists on going 40mph in the fast lane, and speeds up just enough anytime anyone tries to pass him. Just play it cool, and wait for it to resolve itself. Forcing these things doesn't work.