PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Beyond a few choice words, some aggressive driving incidents can and sometimes do escalate quickly.

Virginia State Police Sergeant Michelle Anaya knows that all too well. “We are seeing more and more interstate shootings that are occurring not only on the interstate, but within the cities,” she explained.

State Police are working to learn if these most recent interstate shootings are road rage related. Whether or not they are doesn’t change that troopers say they’re seeing a rise in aggressive driving.

Aggressive driving comes in many forms: lane blocking, cutting someone off and tailgating, just to name a few. You can only recognize it if you’re paying attention.

“We always tell people to be aware of your surroundings when driving. Do not engage with other drivers, no matter how aggressive or annoying they may be,” Anaya said.

Mental health experts say the key beyond being aware, is not being reactive. Identifying what triggers you is part of that.

“People have certain personality disorders, what we call ‘Cluster B’ personality disorders, who are just irritable and impulsive as part of that,” said Dr. David Spiegel, interim chair of Eastern Virginia Medical School’s Psychiatry Department.

He says even people who are experiencing ADHD can be more prone to road rage.

Dr. Spiegel shares that even if you know you’re personality falls in that range, sometimes the environmental factor is enough on its own to spike a dispute. That doesn’t mean you can’t prep yourself before heading out the door regardless of your personality type.

“Some of this is psychological, right? This is our temperament, this is how we run, but the part of it that’s environmental? We can do something … practice mindfulness, breathing exercises, right? Things that could just calm them down before they get into the vehicle decrease the likelihood of them acting out to something that ultimately is so inconsequential,” Dr. Spiegel said.

If you’re the victim of an aggressive driver, experts say the best thing to do is to avoid escalating the interaction.

“If you do you think that they’re joking around or you don’t think it’s real… unfortunately, in this time of age, it is very real nowadays. You just do not know what can trigger a person,” Anaya siad.

If you feel threatened while on the highway, she says instead of 911, call #77. 

That puts you directly in contact with State Police.

Be prepared to provide as much information as you can about the vehicle’s make, model and which direction you last saw it going in.

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