angry emoji driver

Road Rage and Aggressive Driving Behavior

You’re running late for an appointment and hit a traffic jam. Or maybe someone cuts you off. How do you respond? Driving can be stressful, but feeling angry when behind the wheel could lead to aggressive driving, distracted driving or even an accident.

What Is Road Rage?

Aggressive driving can take many forms, like tailgating, weaving and speeding. It happens a lot: One survey found that nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger or aggression behind the wheel at least once over the course of the prior year. The consequences can be serious: Aggressive driving played a role in 56 percent of fatal crashes over a five-year period, according to one analysis.

Here’s what to know about road rage, including tips on staying calm and what to do when confronted with an aggressive driver.

worried emoji driverRoad Rage Factors

Here are some common factors that often contribute to road rage incidents or aggressive driving behavior.

  • Traffic delays
    • Heavy traffic, sitting at stoplights, looking for a parking space or even waiting for passengers can increase a driver’s anger level.
  • Running late
    • Running behind for a meeting or appointment can cause drivers to be impatient.
  • Anonymity
    • If drivers feel that they probably won’t see other drivers again, they may feel more comfortable engaging in risky driving behaviors like tailgating, cutting people off, excessive honking or making rude gestures.
  • Disregard for others and the law
    • Some drivers may think the rules don’t apply to them.
  • Habitual or learned behavior
    • For some drivers, aggressive driving may be the norm.
Get GEICO Auto insurance.

exasperated emoji driverMost Common Forms Of Road Rage

  • Tailgating
  • Yelling
  • Honking in anger
  • Making angry gestures
  • Trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes
  • Cutting off another vehicle on purpose
  • Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver
  • Bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose

happy face driverHow to Avoid Road Rage

Make sure you have the right car insurance policy to protect yourself from aggressive drivers or if you find yourself the victim of a road rage incident.

Before You Get Behind The Wheel

  • Don’t rush. Give yourself time to get where you’re going; you’re less likely to become impatient and take unnecessary risks.
  • Cool off. If you’re upset, take time to calm down.

What To Remember When Driving

  • Give other drivers a break. If someone is driving slowly, keep in mind they might be lost.
  • Use hand gestures wisely. Keep gestures positive—say, waving to a driver who lets you in when merging.
  • Don’t tailgate. Always keep a safe distance from the car in front, no matter how slowly they might be driving.
  • Lay off the horn. Honking out of frustration won’t solve any problems; it will just increase the stress level for everyone on the road.
  • Don’t stop to confront another driver. Stopping could lead to a dangerous situation for everyone.

If Another Driver Acts Aggressively

  • Stay away. Safely change lanes, gradually slow down or even exit the highway to keep a safe distance from the aggressive driver.
  • Don’t reciprocate. Ignore the temptation to respond to the other driver; it could cause the situation to escalate. Don’t make eye contact.
  • Don’t stop. Stopping could lead to a person-to-person confrontation, which could be dangerous.
  • Watch your back. If you’re worried that the other driver is following you, keep your doors locked and drive to the nearest police station.

Taking a defensive driving course could help you stay safer on the road; it could also qualify you for a discount on car insurance. Search for a course near you at

Read more: Distracted Driving: Here’s Why You Should Pay Attention

1 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
2 AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety
3 Insurance Information Institute
Get GEICO Auto insurance.

    Leave a comment

  1. Spike says,

    News flash!!!the freeway belongs to all of us. I’m sure we have all cut someone off intentionally or unintentionally but it’s not worth dying or killing soneone over. Why do adults flip each other off like little children. They do it all the time in Florida how ignorant & what did you accomplish? Absolutely nothing. Grow up & get on with life ,control your anger & just go around them when you can.Life is to short…

  2. Justsaying says,

    Look we all have our way of Driving, I have take Defensive Driver Course but still know that I have to drive with the other driver on the same roads. Some day I may feel like I just want to enjoy the ride and do so in the LEFT Lane, but there are day when the road is there and I just want to enjoy the road and drive the 5 to 7 MPH. And if anyone wish’s to pass in any lane I’m in, I find it easy to move over and let them go and go they do and I can continue to enjoy my Day. JUSTSAYING.

  3. JT says,

    I drive 125 miles/day or 30k miles/yr in NJ mostly, and I’ve travel amongst many types of drivers. Surviving on any highway is difficult enough, but getting caught-up in rage is sometimes uncontrollable. Although not a saint I find it very stressful when driving in different situations. Particularly when traveling at the speed limit on toll roads and even more so within big city limits. It appears most drivers and pedestrians are disrespectful, spiteful, self-centered and selfish…and I’m sure you can add a few more adjectives.
    The only salvation I have is knowing my daily trips will be ending soon due to retirement. I assure you that I won’t miss my commutes. However I’m afraid that I have picked up some very bad driving habits over the years. Trying to break these habits is going to be difficult, but I must try if there is a chance to eliminate stress from my life. Afterall aren’t we suppose to enjoy are retirement?

  4. Joel says,

    Whats worse is the driver in the left lane is going at the same speed as the driver in the middle and the driver in the right as well. As if they where holding traffic back for a speacial event up ahead. If you are in the left lane and you know you are holding the left lane up, have common sense and courtesy and move to the right. That too is considered road rage.

  5. Mike says,

    I was stopped once for speeding when I jumped to the right lane and passed a slow driver. The trooper let me go with a warning after I explained, sensing my frustration and admitting that I’d been driving longer than he had been alive. But he cautioned that others might not be as good and might panic, thus causing an accident — a reasonable point.

  6. Linda says,

    When an individual stops dead in the middle of the road because they feel they are being tailgated, when they ar actually going well below the sped limit themselves, this is wrong and dangerous to all concerned. Drive the speed limit or don’t drive at all. Tail gaters will not tail gate when people are driving the speed limit.

  7. Chris says,

    As long as people drive the speed limit, then that is safer driving. The left lane is not for excessive speeders, the speed limit applies to all lanes of traffic. Technically. Is it practiced? Not from what I can tell. Unless there is blue and red lights on the road, then the speed limit is observed once again.

    • Scott says,

      You might want to brush up on your theory there Chris: A person shall not drive a motor vehicle in the passing lane of a highway if the speed-limit is sixty-five miles per hour

      or more unless such person is passing other motor-vehicles that are in a non-passing lane…[3]

      If you are not passing people you should stay out of the left lane. That might be why people are mad at you and your thought on speed limits if you are holding them up in the passing lane. Adjust your driving habits accordingly.

    • Barbara says,

      I agree. I have been tailgated often in the middle or right lanes when going 60 in a 55. Forget about the left lane, people often speed by at what must be at least 75. There is no way to avoid this. I wish speed limits were more consistently enforced. I have more often than not had people lean on the horn, come up to my bumper, make tight cuts, flip me off etc. when I am going the posted speed limit. I honestly go a bit faster out of fear. Ironic, that excess speed can kill.

    • Kesmarn says,

      Thanks so much for saying that the speed limit applies to ALL lanes of the road. That is the truth! The left lane is not reserved for speeders.

    • PVZ says,

      Going the speed limit in the left lane is passive aggressive driving and is usually only practiced by people trying to make a point or are simply clueless to the realities of driving on the highway. This form of civic disobediance results in self inflicted exposure to and creation of aggressive and angry drivers. Get out of the way or stay to the right.

    • Doug says,

      While I agree that the left lane is not for excessive speeders, people who plant themselves in the left lane need to move over when its clear. Slower traffic keep left is both on signage and common sense.

    • Ed says,

      The left lane is referred to as a passing lane that’s what it is to be used for. There is nothing more annoying then and idiot in the left lane not paying attention… Texting and driving and going the speed limit driving along side of another vehical not letting anyone go past them. There have been studies conducted… If someone is going at or below the speed limit in the left lane and you want to pass them you have to do 2 lane changes to get around them. Thus causing more chance of being involved in an accident. When someone is going 5 to 10 mph over the speed limit let them by. It’s not your ticket you’ll have to pay if they get pulled over. If you don’t let them by chances are you will be tail gated and that’s not safe for you or anyone else on the road. Do you really want to play Jonny law and put your children in Jepordy of being involved in a major traffic accident wind up cripple for life or dead. The better option is to change to the right hand lane when you see a faster car approaching and let them by!

    • Tony says,

      That’s stupid. The left lane is for passing only not to seat back and relax. And, unless you are a cop, you don’t care about anybody else’s speed. And, if you are still concerned, then note the license plate number and report it.

    • Grady says,

      Yes Chris, everyone agrees that everyone should obey speed limits. What appears to be a problem is not moving out of the left lane when someone is behind you. Stop worrying about or trying to control the speed of the car behind you…just drive safely and move over.

      Everyone seems to want to be a parent, or a child behind the wheel, when we really all just need to be adults.

    • Joe says,

      I believe I am the only driver out there that does the speed limit. Good point. I’m not gonna go past the speed limit because of drivers’ lack of preparedness. Also, my feeling is this – if you’re in a hurry and you’re tailgating, you don’t pay anymore taxes then I do. I won’t speed up for you or get a ticket because you want to get home so you don’t miss your favorite episode. This isn’t directed toward you, I just liked your comment and wanted to give my two cents.

    • Meike says,

      Actually, the law reads, “keep up with the FLOW of traffic”. I have been pulled over by police for driving the speed limit in the left lane; most states use the left lane as a passing lane.

    • Alex says,

      The left lane is for passing. You should move over when done passing. If someone is tailgating you, that probably means they would like to pass. the police and the road conditions should enforce the speed limit, and not the “safe” passive offensive drivers, who create dangerous situations.

    • Sam says,

      Everyone knows that the left lane is for passing. If you want to help prevent road rage, please have a little courtesy and stay in the right lane.

    • Powerfader says,

      Well, where I come from the left lane is used for passing. Once you have passed the vehicle in front of you; you should then look for the earliest opportunity to again merge into the right lane.

      When a driver is boxed in and has no “escape” route; that is when the boxed in driver begins to feel anxious.

      Furthermore, in many states it is against the law to cruise in the left lane.

    • J.J. says,

      Excellent post Chris….and I migfht add, there is also NEVER been a law that allows tailgating as well. . . even to “signal” that you want to pass someone.

    • John says,

      the left lane of a controlled access highway is for passing. it is a law, as well as common courtesy. left lane vigilantes who feel that they can go slow in the left lane slow up traffic for miles and force other drivers to now pass on the right which is more dangerous as they manuever between slower and exiting traffic. The mentality that I can go 50/55 in the left lane because thats the speed limit is foolish and causes problems for all

    • Robert Spinello says,

      Most drivers are in too much of a hurry. They are rushing towards an early death!
      Courtesy is non existent on the road these days. It’s a shame that it is unsafe to drive anywhere.

    • Scott s says,

      Actually drivers ed instructor instruct the left lane of the freeways are considered the fast lane!; which is why you pass drivers on the left. If your concerned with safety take public transportation, vehicles are dangerous regardless the speed you drive. Driver awareness increases your odds of a safe trip. But don’t delay the rest of traffic because of your own anxieties.

    • Dan Light says,

      Are you familiar with the term freight train effect? You might notice the caboose moves much later than the engine due to the slack in the connection to each car. The same thing happens on the highway. At one point the traffic is moving at the speed limit and further back the traffic comes to a dead stop, waiting for the cars ahead to move forward. When you occupy the passing lane, driving the speed limit, you are that person causing road rage. And for your information, if safety is important to you, the place to be is in the center lane of three. The opportunity for road rage incidence, as well as head on collisions drops to near zero. My recommendation to you is be courteous. If everyone is passing you on the left, as I suspect they are, move over to the right one lane. You will be happier and so will the other drivers who are trying to get home to their families.

    • Marilyn says,

      It’s not your business to ‘police’ the left lane. If you want to go the speed limit and someone else doesn’t, move over.

    • John says,

      Chris argues that driving the speed limit is safest for everyone. That may be true but it’s unrealistic. Most people tend to drive 5-10 mph over the speed limit. There will always be someone else who wants to pass because they’re in a bigger hurry than you. Most drivers have the courtesy to move out of the left lane in order to let faster traffic to pass. The problem occurs when this doesn’t happen. Use the left lane to pass then move back over to let faster traffic pass.

    • Charlie says,

      It is true that the left lane is not for speeders but that is unfortunately, not how it is practiced on the highways. You will get a ticket in some states if you are going slower in the left lane than the flow of traffic. I have been doing a lot of long distance traveling lately & have noticed the combination of people driving slower than the flow of traffic in the left lane & impatient people that try to “make a hole”, so they can drive faster, creates mini traffic jams on the interstate. Everybody will get where they are going faster if slower drivers would move to the right lane & all drivers would show a little patience. The real world is a bit more complicated than the ideal situation & reducing ones speed 5 mph for a few minutes is not going to make a noticeable difference in anyone’s TOA.

    • Jonathan M says,

      That’s the kind of thinking that creates road rage. Even though you’re correct, why not just stay out of the left lane and avoid conflict all together? Unless you are a police officer, you are just going to cause someone to get irate. Let the other driver deal with their own decisions and you can make it home to your family.

    • John says,

      I agree with the comment that the speed limit applies to all lanes, but the left lane is called the passing lane or just the fast lane. There is no reason or logic to drive on the left lane when is nobody on the right lane, just because you are driving at the road’s speed limit and nobody can drive faster than that. We all “should” obey the rules of the road, but we have to remember that we are not enforcers.

    • Chris says,

      I have made an observation about traffic on the freeway. In no way did I say or infer that I had the responsibility of occupying the left lane of traffic while impeding other drivers, however, now that the implications have been made, I have been in the left lane passing others. I do get the occasional tailgater that does not approve of any speed reached above the limit. To them, I would simply be another car in front of them regardless of speed travelled that needs to get out of their way for whatever reason. It is this type of driver that needs to be in check. Yes, it is agreed, the left lane(s) is considered for passing or in some instances a through lane to avoid on or off ramp traffic.

  8. Travis says,

    I would like to add to the discussion that it’s important for people who have been wronged to learn to deal with their anger. Road rage may be triggered by a “horrible” driver, but they (those with the rage), as we all are, are ultimately responsible for how we respond to bad drivers, mean people, or anything or anyone else negative. The answer isn’t fully for drivers to become better drivers so they won’t make the next driver mad. The wronged driver also has a part to play. For me, I become angry inside when vehicles follow me too closely, shoot me the bird, honk their horns, or do the “I’m going to shoot myself if you don’t speed up” gesture (because they are full of rage). I am a right lane driver who will go 5-7 mph over the speed limit on occasion. For the most part, I mind my own business in the far right lane. Though upsetting it may be, I don’t try to get revenge or act like a maniac. I tend to agree with Pete Nutsen about some folks…mental condition.

    • Scott says,

      Travis, you might have better luck not cruising in the merging lane if you are not exiting. The far right lane has the most on and off traffic and is when people are trying to merge. If you are not getting off of the highway it is best for you to stay in the middle lane, where people are not trying to get off and on the highways. The same for the passing lane on the left. If you are not passing traffic, stay in the middle lane.

    • Cheryl Hubert says,

      Every one who gets behind the wheel is responsible for his/her actions. It is so very true. How we re-act may defuse some one, but then; there may be the unstable person who is looking for a ‘fight’. Best to keep ears and eyes open and stay calm . . it may be what keeps “you” alive.

  9. Vonnie says,

    How about we all just get a current DMV/BMV handbook and review the actual “rules of the road”. I was taught “DEFensive driving….not “OFFensive.

    • Alice Hart says,

      Great idea.
      Also, If everyone would just stay in their own lanes, move early to the lane they will need to exit on and use signals always would eliminate some road rage issues. Drive with the mindset that you could kill or get killed and the consequences.

  10. Insurance Guy says,

    Proven fact that more accidents occur from left lane hogs driving under speed causing more drivers to have to change lanes to go around at close to speed limits posted. Speed up or move over. Simple answer.

    • EJW says,

      Insurance guy? You mean you’re actually an insurer and that’s your attitude? Okay, what does the left lane traveler driving an appropriate speed for conditions do when suddenly an eighteen wheeler changes lanes in front of them, AND the right lane is congested? I’ve often seen drivers behind the trapped, the middle, vehicle continue to tailgate at a very high rate of speed and loosing their cool. What does the middle driver have to do with the situation that the nut behind them WON’T let off the peddle?

    • SueInTX says,

      I live in a small Texas town and drive daily on a 6-lane divided highway in which signs are posted every half-mile or so, “Left lane for passing only.” But the ignorant, selfish drivers to whom Jason refers frequently drive far under the speed limit in these lanes and seem to enjoy having 6-8 cars behind them, all of whom are becoming frustrated at said ignorant driver who refuses to obey traffic signs, which are the laws of the State of Texas. These ignorant drivers who try to police other drivers by passive-aggressively driving far slower than the flow of traffic are the dangerous drivers.

    • Albert Hess says,

      What is the objection to driving in the left hand lane at the speed limit? Why would anyone want to drive over the speed limit? Is it fun?

  11. Joseph says,

    I would say very slow drivers and the drivers who block the left lane with their own defined speed (if someone else is coming faster behind them, no care about it) are also another way of “aggressive” drivers as they don’t care about the traffic situation , don’t care about others but think that they are very great in driving. These peoples are basically creating “Aggressive ” Drivers.

    • Kesmarn says,

      Sometimes people are in the left lane because their exit is coming up shortly. Anyone who’s ever tried to change lanes right before an exit knows how punitive some left lane drivers can be. (As in: “You should have been in this lane in the first place, so I’m not letting you move over.”) So people tend to get to the side of the road they’re going to be using well in advance. If they’re going the speed limit or 5 mph above it. left lane drivers need to back off. There is no lane that grants a right to speed.

    • Cariole says,

      “Creating aggressive drivers!” If you can’t control your temper and actions, give up driving. It only takes one stupid move to cause an accident and possibly a death.

    • David says,

      There must be a way for faster drivers to pass slower drivers regardless of the speed they are driving and the left lane is generally designated for this. I’m amazed at how many drivers have never heard of this and I recommend all drivers take a defensive driving class yearly if possible. I think DMV should stop being lazy in allowing drivers to renew their license by mail or online and require them to come in every few years and take a defensive driving class. I take a class yearly as required by my work and I’m amazed at how much I learn each time.

    • Albert Hess says,

      Aggressive drivers are totally responsible for their aggression and rage. Tailgating is a form of aggression. Back off and change a lane to the right and pass when it is safe and legal to do so. Do not exceed the speed limits under any circumstances.

    • Steven says,

      Not true at all , if you think lossing 1 r 2 mins in you commute is a problem for you then you have other problems . Time management is the bigest part of road rage . Having not learned gold time management by the time you are old enough to drive is pathetic .

  12. Frank says,

    It takes TWO to Tango… Take a Chill Pill. Can’t change the other driver’s behavior, so you need to modify your response. There Right and there’s Dead Right. Was it really really that important?

    • Dottie says,

      I got one better. Get the idiot’s license plate number and call the state trooper or the police and let them handle it. Why should an idiot like that make driving a mess for someone else. That’s bologna. Put them in jail for reckless driving, and let them sit there, and think about what they are doing. And don’t forget to give them a nice fine and while the police office is at it. Hit them where they can feel it. In their wallets!

    • Bennie says,

      With the amount of pills I am consuming I will need a couple of Scotches to keep me from rattling. See you on the road! Yes a little humor never hurt. By the way, the fact that I am contributing to this site makes me think I need therapy.

    • Rose says,

      People who drive with guns in their car and use their guns in a road rage incident should be sent to prison for a long time.

  13. monica says,

    Good article.

    A person has the right to drive as slowly as they want on the streets that match their preferences. But being policed via vengeful slow driving is ten times more frustrating than being cut off by the fastest driver on the freeway. Seems to me drivers truly concerned with preventing accidents would be more concerned about the road in front of them, not checking mirrors to measure just how much brake enforcement they need to lay on some random person.

    Too fast, chose the wrong road and/or immature. Too slow, chose the wrong road and/or immature. Pretty much the same. Just pay attention, blend in with the flow of traffic, be ok with being behind people, and leave some space behind the next person to give yourself some reaction time. If you start to feel frustrated, think of the reasons to keep it safe: your friends, family, pets, job, driving record, insurance rates, not messing up your car or ending up in a news article with your name attached to an accident you caused.

    And if you’re like me and hate being behind slow drivers, consider this: they’re either driving slowly for some physical or practical reason, or they’re passive-aggressive jerks. Either way, you should accommodate it to protect your safety.
    In the event that they’re simply driving slowly, don’t be rude and tailgate them thinking it’ll speed them up. Any unanticipated decrease in motion could lead you to rear-end them.
    In the event that they truly are passive-aggressive jerks, don’t give them the pleasure of antagonizing you. Any unanticipated decrease in motion could lead you to rear-end them and since they’re driving emotionally, you also have to consider the likelihood that they’ll use their position to manipulate or scare you with sudden braking or the threat of it.
    In either case, back off and drive their speed, maybe even 5mph less than they are. Eventually one of you will turn and you can go back to the speed limit. You won’t be behind them forever. The slow driver can drive slowly, the control freak can go play games on another street where you’re not.

    I live in a very spread-out, vehicle-oriented city that’s made a lot of “worst places to live”-type lists and the frustration spills over into driving. Slow mirror-checkers in the far left, frustrated speeders passing in the right. People slow down early at red lights just so they can speed past the waiting cars. It’s chaotic for a town with a relatively low amount of traffic. We have shameful DUI and aggressive driving accident statistics. Instead of waiting for every other driver to see my point or becoming a victim of their bad driving, I chose to let it influence my driving in the interest of protecting life. You’re not going to teach anyone anything about driving in fleeting moments. I’m sure you know from experience that a person flying past you or driving obstructively slowly in front of you hasn’t taught you anything, so you can conclude that a bully tailgating you isn’t going to learn some big lesson from you slowing down just to irritate them. Slow driving is not always safe driving.

  14. Ramachandra Swamy says,

    Thanks for the presentation.

    Compare Yourself to walking on a street ! You just keep to the traditional procedures. You just don’t push someone out of Your Way ! It is also His Way ! We need to simply share the
    facilities, following the Rules ! We need to allow for the traffic conditions & safety, time to reach the destination. Even in icy conditions to go fast is dangerous to all involved.

    Regards to all.

    • BC says,

      Actually, I can get road rage at grocery stores, too. I mean, you don’t just turn your cart right into the main aisle when the main aisles should obviously have the right of way. Or block an aisle with one cart when there’s room for three, and then just stand there even though they see you waiting for them. Or how about those people who decide to congregate in the middle of a very busy walkway, like when an event lets out, forcing the heavy traffic to slow to a crawl and somehow get around them. Haha….sometimes I do wish I had a very loud air horn….just to help them focus.

      Of course, all that said, I have indeed discovered that when I’m in a mood to just not really think about what the other jerks are doing, and I just wait patiently or keep out of their ways, I’m far more content. When I’m willing to take a little more time for the trip and just drive a bit slower (albeit less smoothly) over in the right lane or whatever, all those people I would have ordinarily mixed it up with are just flowing by me to the left, hands and lips clenched tight.

      But those grocery store idiots….man!

Looking to save? Bundle your auto & property. Start Quote Get A Free Auto + Property Quote