Tips & Resources

Dealing with conflict

Aggressive driving behaviour puts all road users at risk. Here are the best approaches to deal with conflict on the road.

When incidents arise

Conflict on the road

Sadly, conflict and road rage can be common for bike riders and road users. Mot people have experienced it, some on a monthly basis.

Confrontation is often caused by inadequate infrastructure or congestion, a misunderstanding of the rights of bike riders or actions that compromise the safety or property of another road user.

Conflict is scary and can leave you feeling vulnerable and exposed, unprotected by the safe confines of a car with lockable doors.

If you do find yourself in conflict on the road, there are ways to deal with it and diffuse the situation.


Dealing with incidents – what to do

Don’t engage or retaliate

As tempting as it is to vent your frustration, try to remember that retaliating doesn’t achieve anything. Abusing someone else on the road won’t make you feel any better.

Don’t approach the other person or touch their property. This can be construed as an act of aggression and put you in danger.

Do your best to diffuse the situation, but keep your emotions in check. Telling the other person to ‘relax’ or ‘calm down’ can inflame the situation – be mindful of being deliberately antagonistic.

Be aware of your tone and body language and understand that that your actions play a big role in diffusing a situation.

Be the bigger person and apologise. Someone yelling abuse at you wants you to engage with them – don’t.

Stay calm – know your rights

Anyone involved in an incident, particularly with a car, will tell you how unnerving it is. When your adrenalin is pumping, thinking clearly and rationally is incredibly difficult. But that’s what you need to do.

Your words and actions immediately after an accident can have a large bearing on things. They can help prevent the situation from escalating, and if the incident results in a police report then you want to be clear on exactly what happened and what was said.

You need to try to get the details of the other person. If a car driver is uncooperative, get their registration plate number – but don’t put yourself in danger.

Without any way to identify them there is very little police can do unless there are cameras nearby.

If there are any witnesses, get their details too. You can’t get too much information.

Reporting the incident

Report an incident to police straight away. Road users can be charged in several states under laws prohibiting intention to cause bodily harm or a threat to inflict injury, as well as predatory driving and driving with intent.

But even if the other person isn’t charged, police may still issue a warning to the driver.

If the incident isn’t reported to the police and there is no property damage caused, they will face no repercussions and the chances of a change in behaviour are minimal.

Regardless of mode of transport, people who disrespect others on the road are in the minority. We need to ensure that poor road behavior is not deemed acceptable and does not spread.

Conflict Bicycle Network

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