For some people, driving incites a sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde mentality. You might feel perfectly fine when you get in the car, but as soon as someone cuts you off in traffic, you become a whole different person—and likely not a version that you're proud of.
In extreme cases, you might experience road rage. Road rage is very dangerous to yourself and those around you. It can result in severe legal consequences, physical harm, or even death.
What Is Road Rage?
Road rage is defined as aggressive or violent behavior stemming from a driver's uncontrolled anger at the actions of another motorist. Some examples include:
- Hitting their vehicle with your car.
- Running them off the road.
- Pulling over, getting out, and engaging in a physical confrontation.
- Inciting your passenger(s) to fight the other driver.
- Using any sort of weapon to inflict harm on another driver or vehicle.
Oftentimes, aggressive driving escalates road rage. Aggressive driving is an accumulation of illegal driving maneuvers, often resulting from emotional distress. If you find yourself getting angry and upset on the road, try to notice if you're engaging in any of the following aggressive driving behaviors:
- Cutting others off.
- Not using turn signals.
- Mentally or verbally cursing other drivers.
- Flashing your headlights.
- Brake checking.
If you find yourself driving aggressively, you need to take the necessary steps to make sure that it does NOT escalate into road rage.
How Road Rage Starts
Often, those that we're closest to upset us the most. If you find yourself in any of the following situations, it's important to be especiallyaware of your emotions and reactions, as they can influence how you behave on the road.
Some situations that can potentially result in road rage include:
- Getting fired or into an argument at work.
- Arguing with your significant other.
- Rushing because you're running late to an appointment.
- Scolding your kids in the car.
Who Gets Road Rage
It seems like everyone is susceptible to road rage, but studies have shown that younger male drivers and people with certain psychological disorders are most prone to engage in aggressive driving and road rage. If you fall into these categories, you should be extraconscious of your emotions and actions on the road.
NOTE: Remember, anyone can experience road rage, and you should not discriminate against those mentioned above.
Preventing Road Rage
Before driving, there are a few steps you can take to ensure you and/or other drivers won't be tempted into road rage. Preventative measures you can take include:
- Putting on soothing music that you like.
- Get into the mentality that you are sharing the road, and nobody's perfect!
- Keep a good amount of space between yourself and other drivers.
- Refrain from making prolonged eye contact or obscene gestures at other drivers.
Diffusing Road Rage
If you've upset another driver, it's important to defuse the situation as soon as possible. The best way to do this is by showing remorse. You can do so by:
- Waving to the other driver.
- Mouthing that you're sorry.
- Allowing plenty of room for them to pass you.
Be the bigger person. This helps to keep everyone, including yourself, safe. Of course, you should always call the police if you believe you're in imminent danger.
When another upsets you, don't make the situation more difficult than it has to be. Before taking matters into your own hands, you should:
- Pull over to a safe location, out of the way of traffic.
- Take deep breaths—maybe even count backwards.
- Remember you have full control over your own actions and thoughts.
- Think about the consequences of your actions, should you contemplate exacting revenge on the other driver.
By remaining calm and not taking other drivers' actions personally, you can avoid legal repercussions and accidents.
Consequences of Road Rage
If a law enforcement officer catches you engaging in road rage, you can be charged with a criminal offense. This means that you will need to:
- Go to court.
- Pay legal fees.
- Possibly face jail/prison time.
For all of the time and money that you'll end up losing, road rage is simply not worth it.
In addition, you risk:
- Damage to your vehicle.
- Physical harm to yourself and your passengers.
You don't know what other people are capable of or what their state of mind might be. If you succumb to road rage, the other driver could have a deadly weapon, putting you in serious danger.
Bottom line: a few moments of anger are simply not worth a lifetime of sorrow.
Aggressive driving habits can threaten your safety, the safety of your passengers and others driving on the road. Many people experience some level of road rage while they travel on the road. Dealing with road rage and aggressive drivers involves patience and the ability to remain calm.
See where you stand with road rage — take the quiz now.
Yes or No, Do You ...
- Overtake other vehicles only on the left?
- Avoid blocking passing lanes?
- Yield to faster traffic by moving to the right?
- Keep to the right as much as possible on narrow streets and at intersections?
- Maintain appropriate distance when following other motorists, bicyclists, motorcyclists, etc.?
- Provide appropriate distance when cutting in after passing vehicles?
- Use headlights in cloudy, rainy, and other low light conditions?
- Yield to pedestrians?
- Come to a complete stop at stop signs, before right turn on red, etc.?
- Stop for red traffic lights?
- Approach intersections and pedestrians at slow speeds to show your intention and ability to stop?
- Follow right-of-way rules at four-way stops?
- Drive below posted speed limits when conditions warrant?
- Drive at slower speeds in construction zones?
- Maintain speeds appropriate for conditions?
- Use vehicle turn signals for all turns and lane changes?
- Make eye contact and signal intentions where needed?
- Acknowledge intentions of others?
- Use your horn sparingly around pedestrians, at night, around hospitals, etc.?
- Avoid unnecessary use of highbeam headlights?
- Yield and move to the right for emergency vehicles?
- Refrain from flashing headlights to signal a desire to pass?
- Drive trucks at posted speeds, in the proper lanes, using non-aggressive lane changing?
- Make slow, deliberate U-turns?
- Maintain proper speeds around roadway crashes?
- Avoid returning inappropriate gestures?
- Avoid challenging other drivers?
- Try to get out of the way of aggressive drivers?
- Refrain from momentarily using High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes to pass vehicles?
- Focus on driving and avoid distracting activities (e.g., smoking, use of a car telephone, reading, shaving)?
- Avoid driving when drowsy?
- Avoid blocking the right-hand turn lane?
- Avoid taking more than one parking space?
- Avoid parking in a disabled space (if you are not disabled)?
- Avoid letting your door hit the car parked next to you?
- Avoid stopping in the road to talk with a pedestrian or other driver?
- Avoid inflicting loud music on neighboring cars?
Are you an Aggressive Driver or a Smooth Operator? Answering "No" to more questions means you're a more aggressive driver.
|Number of "No" Answers||How You Rate as a Driver|
Test questions taken from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.