It would seem that every other day, a new video surfaces about inconsiderate road bullies or road rage incidents of drivers or riders showing aggressive or violent behaviour from behind the wheel – typically when they feel slighted (or insulted) and attempt to retake the upper hand while on the road. Road bullying or road rage has become a pandemic of its own in Malaysia, and more often than not, it involves egoistic and aggressive drivers preying on other drivers who may have unknowingly made a mistake.
Recently, a colleague of ours was subject to such road bullying, fortunately, neither he nor his vehicle was harmed but this spurred us to inform our readers on what you can if faced with the same situation.
First, let’s qualify what counts as road rage or road bullying:
- Verbal insults, curses and threats
- Yelling and honking
- Rude and offensive gestures
- Throwing objects or striking another vehicle
- Aggressive and dangerous driving: tailgating, blocking, brake checking, ramming, sideswiping, or forcing a driver off the road
Now that we know what constitutes road rage, let's understand what you can do if you are faced with the situation in the future.
The first thing to do is to stay calm and try to diffuse the situation
If you’re caught in a situation where another driver has started to harass or act/drive aggressively – channel your inner James Bond and stay cool under pressure. Don’t panic, and try to diffuse the situation with an apologetic wave or hand gesture. Do not engage the other driver, and do not flare up the situation by trying to drive aggressively, you are only compounding the problem. Regardless if you have to give in and be the bigger person, understand that it’s simply not worth it.
Stay in your car no matter what
The safest place to be is inside your car. What’s even safer is a moving car. So regardless if the person may be tailgating you or blocking you from the front, try your best to keep your vehicle moving. If the driver continues to be aggressive – the best thing you can do is alter your course of travel and drive to the nearest police station. If you have a passenger with you, ask them to record as many details as possible, such as the make and model of the vehicle, colour, registration number and other identifying features such as the colour of the wheels (if possible).
If you have no other choice, use your phone to snap a photo or record a video. While it is not the best option and may distract you even further, it might be the only way to document the incident. A dashcam is a lifesaver in situations like this.
If you come to a dead stop, remain in your car. Regardless if the aggressor has a weapon or not and tries to charge at your vehicle, lock your doors, close your windows and stay inside – your car is your best form of defence, and it’s tough! While they may try to hit your windscreen or strike your door and windows, it’s not that easy to break into a car, and more often than not, road bullies tire, start to feel embarrassed/or stupid and return to their vehicle.
In this time, call for help, call the police or blare your horn and turn on your hazard signal to attract attention. In certain cases, other road users may be able to help you or at least reason with the aggressor.
Whatever you do, do not do this…
- Do not try and fight back, people have died from road rage incidents, you may be seriously hurt or even killed, if the aggressor has a weapon, or even if another car hits you while on the road.
- Regardless if it was your fault or not, do not take the law into your own hands. If you fight your aggressor and hurt or kill them, that’s still an offence you will have to pay for.
- Do not drive home, keep within a public area.
- Do not drive into dark areas, and do not drive to areas you are not familiar with, stick to familiar roads and get to the nearest police station.
What you should do after the incident?
Image credit: Malaysia Central
The best thing you can do is head to the police station to report the incident and allow the police to conduct an investigation into the incident. If you have managed to record the registration number, time and place of the incident, provide these details as accurately and truthfully as possible.
If you have any dashcam or video recordings, you may also turn these over to the police as it will greatly aid their investigations.
What charges can be brought forward…
- Road rage incidents can be investigated under Penal Code Section 506 – “criminal intimidation shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both; if the threat is to cause death or grievous hurt, or to cause the destruction of any property by fire, or to cause an offence punishable with death or imprisonment,” – therefore the penalties are heavy.
- Road rage incidents can also be charged under the Penal Code Section 427 – “Whoever commits mischief and thereby causes loss or damage to the amount of RM25 or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term *of not less than one year and not more than five years or with fine or with both.”
We hope this serves as a guide to you if you are ever confronted with a road bullying incident, remember there is no substitute for a calm head in moments such as these. Happy motoring!