road rage and aggressive driving

Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Causes and Prevention

by Zutobi · Updated May 03, 2023

If you’ve been driving for any length of time, you’ve probably encountered dangerous drivers. Screaming, vulgar language, and even violence have become more frequent on the road in the last few years.

In this article, we’ll go through what causes road rage, if you’re susceptible to it, and how you can avoid it.

What is Road Rage?

When a driver exhibits extreme aggression or anger with the intent of causing physical harm or property damage, this is referred to as road rage.

Road rage can manifest in the following forms:

  • Rude and inflammatory gestures
  • Profanity
  • Ramming, sideswiping, or bumping other vehicles
  • Harassing other drivers with brakes and headlights
  • Forcing other cars off the road

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration categorizes road rage as a criminal offense, while aggressive driving is a traffic violation.

Although aggressive driving can contribute to road rage, aggressive driving and road rage are not synonymous. Aggressive driving occurs when a person commits a series of moving traffic violations to endanger other people or property, such as:

  • Tailgating
  • Speeding in congested areas
  • Cutting off other drivers
  • Running stop signs and lights
  • Weaving in traffic
  • Changing lanes frequently
A car tailgating another vehicle
Tailgating is an example of aggressive driving.

What Causes Road Rage?

While the causes of road rage vary, one of the most common causes is anger. Here are examples of situations that can lead to road rage.

1 – Traffic Delays

Traffic jams are bothersome for all drivers, but they are intolerable for some. Drivers with low traffic tolerances may react by tailgating, changing lanes frequently, or becoming enraged at anyone who slows them down.

2 – Anonymity

Some people feel less constrained in their behavior when they are not seen by others and are unlikely to see the witnesses to their behavior again. The sense of anonymity that a driver experiences as a result of being shielded from the outside world by the vehicle can lead to dangerous behavior, and road rage.

3 – Disregard of Others

What is considered acceptable road behavior varies from one person to another – some drivers show a lack of respect for authority and others, which may enrage those around them and result in a confrontation.

Show respect towards other road users.

Tailgating, speeding, cutting off other drivers, talking on the phone, and changing lanes without signaling are all actions that can make the blood boil. Ask yourself if you engage in any aggressive driving behaviors that may cause others to lash out.

4 – Stress

Some people drive aggressively because they are running late for work, school, meetings, doctor appointments, or any other important matters. That combined with the overwhelming and never-ending list of responsibilities that come with modern life can contribute to aggressive driving and road rage.

How to Avoid Road Rage

If you or a loved one is prone to road rage, and you believe it has become a problem, consider the following tips to avoid it happening again.

1 – Get Sufficient Rest

Sleep deprivation has been linked to increased irritability and anger. Getting enough rest will help you stay calmer on the road when things aren’t going your way. A good night’s sleep of 8 hours should do wonders for your mood.

2 – Limit Alcohol

We can act strangely when we drink alcohol. It has an effect on the brain that can make us angrier or more aggressive. In addition to mood changes, alcohol will impair your judgment, reactions, and overall driving abilities. Each year, DUI road fatalities account for nearly a third of all road fatalities. Don’t drink and drive!

3 – Think About The Consequences

When we let it take hold, rage can become all-consuming, inhibiting our ability to think about the consequences of our actions. Road rage can have undesirable outcomes in the form of financial strain, property damage, and harm to others. Think about the consequences of your actions to help keep your cool and avoid making any snap decisions.

4 – Leave Earlier for Your Appointments

Although this should be obvious, many people fail to account for delays caused by heavy traffic or other factors. It may be worthwhile to leave one hour earlier to arrive at your destination sooner. That way, a 5-minute wait won’t be as bothersome.

A freeway with heavy traffic
Leave early to avoid becoming stressed if you get stuck in a traffic jam or heavy traffic.

5 – Keep Good Manners

Good manners and civility encourage other drivers to reciprocate. This can help defuse a tense situation and keep a confrontation from starting. Use your horn sparingly and allow other drivers to make mistakes. If someone else is behaving badly, be the bigger person and continue with your day.

6 – Put Yourself in Their Situation

If someone is driving slowly, try to put yourself in their shoes. There are many reasons for driving slowly, such as being lost, practicing driving, or experiencing driving anxiety.

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