When someone cuts you off or changes lanes without signaling, you might be tempted to get angry and start raging at the driver. However, giving into road rage can be dangerous for everyone on the road. Road rage is aggressive or violent behavior exhibited by drivers, and it’s usually caused by things like dangerous driving conditions. Road rage can lead to verbal altercations, violence, and even death in severe cases, but there are ways to manage your anger while driving so you can drive safely.

What is Road Rage?

Road rage is an umbrella term for anger or aggression from drivers that are brought on by driving-related stimuli. It includes mild behaviors like honking and more serious forms of aggression like physical violence. The most common road rage triggers include being slowed down via traffic, slow driving, being put at risk by other drivers, or hostility from another driver. Sometimes, it doesn’t have any behavioral consequences and goes away once the driver calms down. However, the following behaviors are potential expressions of road rage:

  •  Yelling
  •  Angry gestures
  •  Excessive honking
  • Speeding
  • Sporadic headlight use
  • Chasing other vehicles
  • Using lanes inappropriately
  • Getting out of your car to threaten another driver
  • Physically confronting another driver
  • Bumping into another vehicle on purpose
  • Blocking another car
  • Erratic braking
  • Physical violence
  • Pulling a gun on another driver

The Effects of Road Rage

Fits or rage on the road can have deadly consequences when left unchecked. Many collisions in the United States have been linked to incidents of aggressive driving. A recent study found a link between anger and car accidents, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 67% of fatal car accidents involve aggressive driving. In some states, road rage that leads to assault is classified as a criminal offense. Given the potential consequences of it, it’s important to avoid road rage and to avoid inspiring such hostility in others.

What is road rage - man honking a horn in a car

How to Prevent Road Rage

We all get angry behind the wheel sometimes, but we need to find healthy ways to cope with our anger to avoid aggressive behavior. The following tips can help prevent road rage the next time you’re in a frustrating situation:

  • Practice tolerance and forgiveness: remember that the other driver might be having a bad day and assume that their actions aren’t personal.
  • Don’t engage with an aggressive driver: engaging with someone with road rage could escalate the situation. Avoid making eye contact, let the driver pass you on the road, and ignore their attempts to provoke you. Maintain space around your car and contact emergency services if you’re in danger.
  • Wave or mouth an apology to the other driver if needed. This will help both of you feel calm and help you quell any road rage.
  • Don’t inconvenience other drivers: avoid causing other drivers to abruptly change their speed or direction by avoiding speeding, tailgating, erratic braking, and other impolite driving methods. Practicing proper driving etiquette will make driving a better experience for everyone.
  • Avoid overusing your horn: horns should typically be reserved for emergencies. Use your horn lightly when you need to get a driver’s attention and give the drivers in front of you at lights a grace period before honking.
  • Call a road rage hotline: depending on where you live, your state might have a direct line you can use to report aggressive drivers. Reporting an aggressive driver to the authorities is a much safer alternative than confronting them directly.
  • Try a relaxation technique to calm down: even road rage can be regulated in a healthy way. The next time you feel your temper flaring, try doing some deep breathing exercises or repeat a phrase that you find calming, such as “take it easy” or “I am calm.” Just remember to keep your attention on the road at the same time.

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