Driving on roads throughout the United States can often be a pleasant, reasonably uneventful experience. Going from point A to point B is usually a fairly mundane task. But sometimes, the actions of other drivers or some situations outside of your control can be frustrating make you angry. This is typically called “road rage,” and it’s a condition that has increasingly shown up in the headlines of national and local news outlets in recent years.
But what exactly is road rage and are there simple steps to take to avoid it?
While the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) doesn’t identify road rage, per se, it does address aggressive driving, which may be seen as a similar action. According to the NHTSA, aggressive driving is when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.”
While you may not to be able to pinpoint specific actions that are tied directly to road rage, the Insurance Information Institute (III) identified a few behaviors (based on the NHTSA’s Fatal Accident Report System) that may contribute to aggressive driving:
- Following improperly
- Improper or erratic lane changing
- Illegal driving on road shoulder, in ditch, or on sidewalk or median
- Passing where prohibited
- Operating the vehicle in an erratic, reckless, careless, or negligent manner or suddenly changing speeds
- Failure to yield right of way
- Failure to obey traffic signs, traffic control devices, or traffic officers, failure to observe safety zone traffic laws
- Failure to observe warnings or instructions on vehicle displaying them
- Failure to signal
- Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted speed limit
- Making an improper turn
The Washington Post reports on a 2013 study by Christine Wickens of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health about driver anger, that weaving between lanes and cutting people off are the actions that infuriate them most. The study analyzed 5,624 complaints posted to the website roadragers.com between 1999 and 2007. The next three most-common complaints were speeding, hostile displays and tailgating. But what can you do to prevent angry reactions to these behaviors?
Prevent Road Rage
If you drive long enough, eventually you’ll likely encounter some of the behaviors and situations listed above that can frustrate even the calmest drivers. It can be difficult to proactively prevent anger, but some basic stress-reducing tips provided by Edmunds may be able to help you handle your road reactions. Edmunds suggests:
- Get enough sleep
- Plan ahead
- Don’t use your car to blow off steam
- Listen to relaxing music
- Loosen up your driving posture
- Don’t take things so personally
- Respond with a laugh or a shrug
- Respond as though you’re in a restaurant
- Analyze your own driving
- Remember the simple courtesies
Road rage can be a dangerous behavior that can lead to accidents and injuries. If you remain calm behind the wheel and don’t antagonize other drivers it may help improve your driving experience and reduce your stress.