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Road Rage: Definition, Forms, Effects & How To Avoid

This post will define road rage, explain its various forms, outline the effects it can have, and provide tips for avoiding it. Stay safe out there!

Road rage is a serious issue on the roads today.

It can take many different forms, and it can have dangerous effects on both the driver and other people on the road.

Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to avoid road rage incidents and stay safe while driving.

This post will define road rage, explain its various forms, outline the effects it can have, and provide tips for avoiding it.

Stay safe out there!

What is Road Rage?

Road rage is a type of aggressive action taken while driving, stemming from frustration or anger.

When you face certain road conditions or behaviors that you disagree with while riding in a vehicle or driving and you have a robust and anger-influenced reaction, your emotions are considered road rage.

Is Road Rage Illegal?

While having a road rage incident is not considered illegal, the extent to which you display your anger can lead to unlawful conditions.

For example, if you respond to an instance of unfavorable road conditions by honking your horn loudly and speeding off, then the act of speeding would be considered illegal if it was above the posted limit.

What Causes Road Rage?

Many different behaviors can contribute to road rage.

While some actions may trigger road rage in some individuals, they will not do so for others.

Additionally, those known for having a quick temper or who have issues managing their anger have a higher likelihood of developing some form of road rage.

Frustration With Heavy Traffic

One of the most common situations in which drivers experience road rage is when they are stuck in a traffic jam.

Whether due to construction, an accident, or deteriorating weather conditions, the abrupt change in traffic flow can escalate a person’s agitation level.

Running Late

When running late for an event, you are often already at a certain stress level.

However, it never fails that when you are running late, you will run into every snag possible and, in turn, be even later.

Therefore, individuals often experience road rage to some extent when they are in a rush to get somewhere.

Distracted Driving

Experiencing road rage due to distracted driving can be a two-way street.

Not only will a person become instantly angry due to another person’s distracted driving, but that same person can also experience road rage when they narrowly avoid a mishap from their own distracted driving.

There is nothing more potent than being angry at yourself for not paying enough attention while on the road.

Feeling Above the Law

When you have been driving for many years, it is easy to feel like the rules don’t apply to you.

Not only is this the wrong direction to take for obvious reasons, but having that feeling can lead to road rage behaviors and a disregard for traffic safety when you feel like others aren’t respecting your space on the road or if you are pulled over for your actions and have to face the consequences.

Other Psychological Issues

As we briefly mentioned above, those who have a history of anger management or short tempers are more prone to road rage and aggressive driving than those who don’t.

Driving provides many situations where you are confronted with emotional triggers and abrupt reactions.


The fact that there are so many drivers on the roads can give you the sense that you are just a fish in the sea when driving.

This feeling of anonymity can lead to road rage when you feel like you aren’t seen by other drivers and therefore are subject to the poor decisions of others.

Learning how to be a better driver can help you understand what to look for, before this situation happens to you.

What Are Signs of Road Rage?

There are many telltale signs that a person is currently experiencing some form of road rage.

While these behaviors vary from person to person, some traits are more common than others.

It is best to stay informed on what to look for so that you are more aware when a problem begins to surface.

vector graphic showing a person mad to demonstrate how does road rage affect your driving skills and judgment


Driving very closely to the back bumper of the car in front of you (often called tailgating) is one of the most common behaviors observed with road rage.

Many drivers believe that getting close to someone they feel has made an inappropriate driving decision will cause them to realize their mistake.

However, their carelessness of driving too closely can be even more detrimental than the original error.


Most people on the planet have yelled at another driver at some point.

Although this action is considered a form of road rage, it is one of the least dangerous forms that can take place.

Unless a driver refrains from giving their full attention to driving while yelling, the act is relatively harmless and rarely leads to safety concerns.


It’s pretty common to see individuals with road rage use their horns to get the attention of other drivers.

While using your horn is practical and even necessary for some events, when you are trying to alert another of a possibly dangerous situation, this act can also be abused.

It is important to remember that abrupt and loud noise can startle other drivers and cause accidents.

Angry Gestures

Many will display their displeasure towards another driver through inappropriate gestures or facial expressions.

While this behavior can be hurtful to others, it is often not considered dangerous unless the one displaying them isn’t paying attention to the road.

If this happens, they may cause an accident or injury.

Blocking Other Cars

The action of blocking other cars can happen in several different situations.

Whether it is a person who blocks a lane in a construction or accident area so that other drivers can’t bypass the backed-up line or an individual who purposely slows down or speeds up so that cars are unable to change lanes on the freeway, the action comes up frequently and displays road rage.

Cutting Cars Off On Purpose

Like blocking other cars, cutting cars off on purpose is another form of road rage that can cause more harm than bring awareness.

A vehicle’s abrupt maneuvering and close proximity to another fast-moving car is a recipe for disaster.

It is the cause of millions of car accidents each year.

Confronting Another Driver

In some more extreme road rage incidents, you will see one driver confront another with aggressive behavior.

Whether this is by getting out of the car at a stoplight and engaging in a verbal or physical altercation or following them to their destination and confronting them there, it poses a risk to the individual being confronted and those around them.

Bumping Another Car On Purpose

Although it is perhaps the rarest version of road rage that you see, it still occurs daily.

This action is one driver purposely bumping into another car.

Many do this because they feel that the vehicle driver intentionally did something to slight them, and they are attempting to seek revenge.

However, this is highly dangerous for all involved.

How Does Road Rage Affect Your Driving Skills?

When you are overcome with road rage, it reduces your ability to think logically.

Therefore, your decision-making capabilities are hindered, and mishaps become more common.

What mishaps are common?

We list a few possibilities below.

Higher Chance of Accidents

When you are overcome with anger, it is harder to focus on your surroundings.

Whereas you would otherwise notice if a car were merging into your lane, you may not if you are focused on what has caused you anger.

Therefore, it is more likely that you will cause or be a car accident victim when in this frame of mind.

Jerkier Movements

Another side effect of not being as alert to your surroundings is that you will find yourself making last-minute corrections while driving.

When you notice the need to move to the side or change lanes with only a few seconds to spare, you will utilize more abrupt, jerked movements to right your path.

Doing so can come with a higher chance of a car accident.

Loss of Focus

When there is something on your mind, you will often daydream or stare off into space.

These mannerisms come into play no matter the reason.

If you are angry due to road rage, you are less likely to focus on what is in front of you as sharp as you otherwise would, which leads to unsafe driving conditions.

Suggested Read: How to be a better driver

How Does Road Rage Affect Your Judgment?

In much the same way as road rage will affect your driving skills, it will also impact your judgment.

Whether it’s not thinking as clearly or acting impulsively, road rage can impact your judgment long-term.

Taking Risks

Being in a road rage state of mind can put you in a place where you feel more reckless than usual.

With this mentality, you can find yourself going at a faster speed or not paying attention to driving rules and regulations.

Hurting Others on Purpose

At times, individuals will get to such a high level of road rage that they desire to cause harm to others to alleviate their pain, anger, and anxiety.

This situation does not have a good result for anyone due to the lack of good judgment utilized.

Yelling Something You’ll Regret

When we find ourselves in a state of mind where we feel anger and distress, our emotional filter is often turned off.

When this happens, we often make statements and insults that we later come to regret.

What Can Happen If You Have Road Rage?

Having road rage can come with various outcomes, most of which are not portrayed in a positive light.

If you drive with road rage, what events can come from it?

We outline a few possibilities below to keep in mind.

Road Rage Accidents

Often an act of road rage can lead to unsafe driving.

In turn, drivers may find themselves victims of a car accident or even cause the accident as a ramification of their behavior.

Not only can the drivers become injured, but innocent bystanders and passengers can be affected as well.

Extra Stress

Having negative emotions come into play while you are out and about enjoying your day can bring undue stress to your mind and body.

Extra stress can lead to a host of issues, including high levels of anger, health problems, and distracted driving.

Unpleasant Confrontation

Whether you plan on doing so or not, an episode of road rage can lead to unpleasant interactions with others.

At times it may be you unloading your emotions onto others, while other instances may see individuals spouting off insults and accusations to you.

Tips For Letting Go Of Road Rage

If you find that you have frequent bouts of road rage, there are various ways to combat the emotion while working to eliminate it completely.

Some strategies may be better suited for certain individuals, while others may find pieces of each coping mechanism helpful.

Give Yourself Plenty of Time

The feeling of being rushed and the possibility of being late for an important meeting or event can increase the likelihood of having road rage.

Planning ahead and allotting appropriate travel time to reach your destination can help decrease the chances of road rage.

Listen To Calming Music

If you are easily triggered by events during your daily commute, turning on music that you find most calming can help combat your emotions.

Whether it is classical, nature sounds, or something more to your liking, you can decrease the chances of having an overly emotional reaction to events while listening to something that brings you calmness.

Breathing Exercises

Many studies have shown that breathing exercises are beneficial in decreasing stress and anxiety levels.

Learning a few that you can turn to while driving in stressful situations can make a big difference in how frequently road rage occurs.

Don’t Retaliate

Taking every opportunity to allow unpleasant instances between drivers to wash away from your emotions instead of retaliating can make a big difference when fighting the urge to have road rage.

Whether calling a friend on hands-free phone features or turning on music to listen to, taking every step possible to avoid retaliation will pay off greatly in the long run.

Treat Underlying Psychological Conditions

If you find yourself struggling with a quick temper, anger management issues, or you are currently going through circumstances in life that are causing you distress, it is best to have those treated appropriately.

Having these emotions under control will extend to any road rage issues you may experience as well.

What if Somebody Else is Road Raging Against You?

If you find yourself in the middle of a road rage incident, here are some things to do:

Try to stay calm: It can be difficult, but road rage is a reaction to stress and anger.

The more calm and collected you can be, the better chance you have of diffusing the situation.

Avoid making eye contact: This can escalate the situation and make the other driver even angrier.

Don’t respond with gestures: This includes honking your horn, giving the finger, or making any other hand gestures.

Move away from the aggressive driver: If possible, change lanes or turn off at the next exit.

Call 911 if necessary: If the other driver is following you or trying to force you off the road, call 911.

Wrapping Up

Road rage is an ongoing problem worldwide that continues to grow every year.

With more and more cars on the roads, it can be a real problem if not handled appropriately.

If you have any form of road rage, it is vital to analyze how it impacts your daily commute.

How does road rage affect your driving skills and judgment?

If you feel it is spiraling out of control for you, or escalating to a problematic level, be sure to find appropriate outlets for its resolution sooner rather than later.

It is important to remember that it isn’t just you on the roads.

Many individuals and families put their lives on the road each and every day.

1 thought on “Road Rage: Definition, Forms, Effects & How To Avoid”

  1. I just got rode raged on for something I can not understand would have upset the other driver.
    I made a decision to change lanes and as anyone would normally do, I checked to be sure I was clear (I also have blind spot indicators) and even though there was a pickup truck in that lane, he was back a few car lengths. I turned on my turn signal (most don’t) and moved over into the lane and kept up my speed and actually picked it up a bit so not to hold up the pickup. The driver in the pickup sped up behind me and started flashing his lights repeatedly.
    Next, he passed me with little room to clear my right rear quarter panel and sped up to get in front of me and then got on his brakes to “teach me a lesson”. I slowed and realized this got was in full Rage mode, so I was only trying to get away from him. At the next light he turned into the left turn lane an slowed for the red turn light. The light was green in the straight lane so, I was just going to go straight thru. The maniac in the P/U was not done, so he then decided to turn right to block my path straight ahead (absolutely insane), but fortunately he turned back into his lane and I got thru. This is not the first episode I have had with Road Rage, but probably the most amazing!!! I know what I did would not normally draw this kind of reaction from any other driver because I had lots of room to change lanes, there is no way someone would take this as me “cutting them off”, but I guess I lit this guy’s fire and he wanted revenge for me daring to get in his way, or at least he think I did (what a Psycho!!).
    I wanted to pass this along to let everyone know that sometimes road rage can be sparked from practically nothing as with what happened to me this morning. I will say that I am a very capable driver (I was formally a race car driver in the SCCA) and won my share of championships. I was also a driving instructor with the SCCA and BMWCCA, so I think I have above average (even advanced) driving skills, so do you think I was in the wrong? I really don’t think so. The point is that no matter what you may do, right or wrong, some drivers have serious anger control issues and they should not even be driving a vehicle if they are not capable of keeping themselves calm and in control in all driving situations. I can only hope this never happens to you, but if it does, be the better driver and stay calm and in control.
    Good luck and drive safely.


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