Tips for bicyclists: How to handle drivers' road rage

Riding a bicycle in the Bay Area is a great, environmentally friendly way to get around the city. Unfortunately, not all drivers want to share the road. This is tragically evident every time a news story pops up of a bicyclist sustaining injuries, sometimes fatally, in the city. 

It is critical for bicyclists and motorists to share the road so everyone can be safe. Bicyclists often have to bear the brunt of drivers' road rage. If you ever find yourself in this situation, then you need to follow these steps to avoid an accident

Defuse the situation

It never works in anyone's favor if a bicyclist escalates an already tense situation. Even if the motorist is the one who broke the law, the bicyclist should avoid making obscene gestures or yelling because this will only irritate the motorist further. In court, the motorist could try to claim you instigated the incident, so you should avoid a confrontation and maintain a calm tone when speaking to the driver. 

Disengage from a potential conflict

Many road rage incidents only involve yelling a few obscene words and moving on. However, some motorists want to engage with the bicyclist further. In this instance, it is best to simply get away. Move off the road to another path where the motorist cannot reach you. If there is nowhere to go to, then it is best to get to an area where there are plenty of witnesses. 

Call 9-1-1

In the event the motorist gets out of his or her car, you should call 9-1-1 immediately. You should leave the call live even if you need to talk to the driver because the phone operator can hear everything. You never want to start a fight. You should only defend yourself if the motorist becomes physically aggressive. This way, you can claim in court you only fought in self-defense. 

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David G. Smith, Attorney At Law
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Oakland, CA 94612

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