Recently I was asked to discuss personal security, more specifically how to deal with road rage. I think before we can discuss personal security you have to have personal tenets or an organized belief in self-preservation. How can you protect others if you can’t even protect yourself? First you must understand and develop your attitude and beliefs about real world survival. What is your psychological make-up? Do you really know yourself? How will you react under fire or under attack? Can you make critical decisions under stress? We all have our norms, but those norms change in a fraction of a second under fire if you are not prepared and have not done some level of training. Remember what you think, say and do, ultimately you will become. Don’t be one of the many victims running around all day believing it can’t happen to me. Knowledge is the key to success and survival. Like it or not we do live in an animal kingdom.

Have you ever heard of the term purposeful action? If for nothing else, have a plan before you get out on the road. A lot of things can go wrong from the time you leave your house to the time you get to your destination and back. You are probably closer to danger all the time and don’t even have a clue. Even if you try to drive the speed limit and follow the rules, someone out there is getting pissed at you, judging you and your driving habits. Even if you don’t think that way, it’s happening. Most of us automatically want to do something stupid, thinking we are making some asshole’s life miserable while they are trying to pass you, slow you down, and ride your bumper and more. You don’t even know it but you have already engaged in a disagreement, thinking the car you are in will protect you. It’s nothing but metal wrap unless you have taken a defensive driving course. So let’s move forward to what you can do once a road rage situation begins to escalate. Like any other situation, you first want to try and deescalate the situation before it becomes violent. If you are not armed and a natural bad-ass you might want to get humble and wave instead of flipping the guy off.

From the on-set of what you think might be a situation where someone is starting to get hot and angry at you, first attempt giving yourself a cushion and adequate space between you and the other vehicle. Look for ways to escape from the situation, but don’t drive into a dangerous urban neighborhood. This could actually be a set-up from the start, someone trying to get you to pull over or take the next exit. They may not be acting alone. When you are driving keep an eye out for cars that may be following you or vehicles that get in front of you and slow down. They could be doing this for a number of reasons, but this is when you need to keep a cooler head, avoid tunnel vision. Tunnel vision and anger will cause you to lose track of your surroundings and lose control of the situation. Remember to always leave room for an escape route. Listen there are so many factors that motivate criminals and crazies you may never know the real deal of what reasons or why someone is getting into it with you on the road. In some areas like Obama’s home of Chicago and Detroit there are actually organized gangs out on the road carjacking. This is a very sophisticated craft and crime; so much in fact the government has task forces reacting to this. So if confronted with something that seems like simple road rage never lose site of the bigger picture. Big picture thinking can save your life and help you avoid reacting from tunnel vision, fear or your own anger. Don’t get baited into a losing situation. There are very limited winning versions of road rage.

The winning version is that you are doing everything 100% right, someone gets road rage at you, and the police happen to drive up next to you. How often are the police there when you need them? Maybe they do some stupid driving act just to get at you, possible endangering you, flip you the finger, you wave back and they drive off. Suppose you have your kid in the car or you are driving in a secluded area at night with no lighting. Then you have to resort back to big picture thinking. Dial 911 keep driving until you get to a well-lit location or populated store or parking lot. You can give yourself a chance, but don’t think for a minute by-standers will help you out if you are assaulted in a parking lot. In these days they are more likely to make a YouTube video of the attack. You are on your own baby. SO what do you do?

Stay calm, leave yourself an out. Don’t let some crazy asshole block you in. I guess if they try you could ram their car and push through. If you ram your car into the front or rear wheels closer to the front or rear quarter panels while accelerating you could possibly drive through them. I am pretty sure by now you are either angry and want to fight back or you are in fear of your life. Almost any decision you make will be the right one at this moment. Making no decision is the worst thing you could do. Don’t ever just lay down and become a victim. So some of the things you can do are:

  1. Plan your routes and have an A route and a B route. Know where you are. Have a mindset that criminals and crazies have no limits once they are enraged. You have to find a way to work from a position of strength.
  2. If you carry weapons or other items you can use for self-defense, have them on the ready so you don’t have to take your eyes off the situation and let panic start to creep in. That means practice some basic self-defense techniques and strategies at home or in a class.
  3. Attempt deescalating the situation by staying calm, backing off, changing routes, driving to a safe location, call 911. Make sure your car stays gassed up.
  4. Once you have determined that the would-be road rager has reached a point of no return, start putting your knowledge to work and ready yourself. Continue to look for ways out and don’t give up.

The following is an excerpt from another article I wrote and thought it would be appropriate as well. What is important?

    1. Believe an assault could happen to you or a loved one at any time or anyplace.
    2. Prepare yourself mentally and physically
    3. Train by practicing real scenarios and situations that have happened repeatedly through the years. Study violent crime statistics, look for how the assault happened, how many people were involved, review location details, i.e. well lighted vs. dark alleyways, in a bar or a mall parking lot or maybe while drinking in a house party or bar.
    4. Develop a Mind Set for Survival Realize your potential, what are you prepared and ready to do to save your life?
    5. Theory of Commitment Most people would rather be hurt, than hurt someone else. It is just the opposite for your attacker. You must have a mindset that will allow you to defend by striking your attacker with BAD INTENTION!
  1. How do you make it work?
    1. Be aware of your routes when traveling and times of day.
    2. Travel or walk a wide path around bushes and other man-made obstructions even cross the street if you have to.
    3. In a car keep an eye on any car that is following you. If you think you are being pursued, drive to a well-lit location with lots of people or a police/fire station.
    4. If you carry any type of weapon, including improvised, practice concealment and deception when in use. Repetition is the key to effective use.
  2. Learn to relax: repetition can cause teach your body how to relax under fire. I will explain.
  3. Fight out of your comfort zone:
  4. Practice under fire: Remember, what you do in training you will do in the street or ring. If you drop your hands or become flat footed and immobile during training, most likely this will happen in a real fight. It is my opinion when you give up and make excuses during training, you will quit in a real fight. Remember a sucker punch (first strike), if you do not achieve the desired result e.g. your attacker is hard headed and motivated or even on drugs, you are in the fight at this time and your greatest second asset is hands up and proper movement. Just keep moving in and out and directionally. You may also be caught off guard and have to use your superior training and motivation to stay in the fight. A man is like a race car with a lot of horse power, if the engine runs out of gas you win! That’s why once you are engaged in combat you must keep moving. You simply cannot let your opponent rest. Use simple jabs, eye racks simple slaps anything to keep him disrupted, angry and moving. If your attacker hasn’t effectively gotten to you over the first 13 to 30 seconds, he never will. In the beginning of a conflict you have to use more energy than your attacker can sustain. Start hard and finish harder!

Let’s say this gets out of hand and you are effectively cut off and caught in the open. If you are afraid and unarmed, stay in your car, lock the doors and if you have glasses keep them on. If a window is broken you don’t want to disadvantage yourself with glass shards in your eyes. Stay on the horn. Most attackers will cut bait and run if you make enough noise for long enough. Keep your eyes on their hands as this is where the threat will ultimately come from, even if they are kicking your car. If you are parked or pulled over, always park with an out, don’t block yourself in. If you see or think they are going to shoot at you, make every effort to get out of the way. That would include running them over or ramming through their car if you can. Always maintain a good position in relation to your attackers. Don’t be afraid to take action and steal the attacker’s thunder. Most road ragers are bullies by nature. If you can gain the upper hand, they will fold and run under pressure. Remember they do not have rules. Let’s make this part of an on-going dialog.

Visit Jim West’s website, American Extension Fighting.