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.
Road 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.
- 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.
Most Common Forms Of Road Rage
- 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
How 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 geico.com.
Read more: Distracted Driving: Here’s Why You Should Pay Attention
Sources 1 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2 AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety 3 Insurance Information Institute
Juan a santiago Jr. says,
Great advise. It’s alaways a good idea to take a defensive driving course.
Robert Feldman says,
Road Rage: Don’t lean on horn. However, so many drivers willmot even attempt to look e.g. changing lanes. They will simply close there eyes and hope no one in in the adjacent lane and proceed. At that time, you are there with no where to go and avoid them. They just keep coming. Its almost an attack! This I find it frequent and “daily’. Result: leaning on the horn and then speeding past then at first opportunity. This I repeating a daily occurrence with multiple drivers. It’s a miracle to get to a local destination without incident. Yeaterday it was two incidents in one mile. Amazing!
Zee M says,
it’s not just that they are a dangerous driver. when someone is driving aggressively and angrily towards you you have to remember it’s not that they’re not necessarily a dangerous forever but a dangerous person. let it go and get to your destination safely.
Karla Alexander says,
This is a really great article. While driving today, I was making a right turn, and didn’t notice someone was making a U-turn into the same lane. I hurried and stopped, and waited for the car to pass. The driver stopped in the middle of the road, blocking traffic just to blow their horn excessively at me while pointing her finger and screaming. I couldn’t even hear what she was saying, but man she looked so evil, wild and full of rage. Her behavior stopped other cars on the road. They could have potentially hit her from behind. Why do some people feel this is necessary? I mean the other driver cannot hear you screaming, and raging. What is the point?
Tricia Johnson says,
Driving excessively slow is also road rage (unless someone has to) . I’ve seen many a angry looking person drive far under the speed limit and make deliberate efforts to hinder passing. I’ve seen them at stop lights with a limited merging lane swerve into the empty lane and pass all the cars that passed them minutes ago.. and hold them all up again going far under the limit. I’ve noticed the CHP doesn’t seem to care but the sheriff does and will pull over a super slow driver- whereas the CHP will even just stay in the line. I think it’s an often ignored form of road rage and often provokes the other kind.
Genavieve appleby says,
James Towne says,
“Driving excessively slow is also road rage” LMAO.
A good reminder that courtesy counts towards saving lives.
Genavieve appleby says,
Marsha Stroub says,
Excellent advice. A good reminder that courtesy counts towards saving lives.
K Fiorentino says,
Thank you. good reminders
B. Crowell says,
yes when someone acts out do not even look at them that’s what they want you to do. thankyou.
Brian Hou says,
but some angry driver will try to cut off in front of you or cut in front and sudden stop , which sometimes is hard to to a sudden break especially on the highway
Joan B. Atkinson says,
Thanks for the tips.
Patricia A Dunagan says,
Thank you for the reminder.
myrtle S Dillard says,
I do not get involved with angry drivers.
I am a courtesy driver, I stop and allow other drivers to pull into traffic.
I drive a safe distance behind other drivers. I back off when a driver needs to move into my lane.
Ordra Gayle Vizcarra says,
Good Advice ! I have seem some of these road rage drivers who should read this ! I can’t imagine why they behave in such a way.