We all get frustrated sometimes while driving. Perhaps another driver runs a red light or crosses the centerline. But sometimes an individual’s anger crosses the threshold into full-blown rage. So what exactly is road rage and what causes it?
Road Rage Defined
What separates road rage from run-of-the-mill anger is retaliatory action. An angry driver might act annoyed, but a driver experiencing full-blown road rage wants to get even. This may sound funny, but as this road rage victim in the Bronx points out when another driver pulls out a gun, it is anything but funny.
The 42-year-old man was involved in a fender bender and almost lost his life at the hands of an exasperated driver. So what causes otherwise reasonable people to react in such an extreme way?
The Politics of Raging
Psychologists suggest unreasonable anger often has nothing to do with traffic. Instead, people are upset overwork or family issues, then take it out on others. Aggravating traffic situations can unleash inner demons, and the driver one car over is a handy scapegoat, especially if the circumstances involve one of the following.
- Heavy Traffic. Congestion is a bigger problem in larger cities, but gridlock anywhere brings out beast behavior. A driver that has been trapped on the road, unable to move their vehicle, is likely to become unhinged. There have also been parking lot rage incidents when folks leaving a concert or other public event get impatient and go on the offense against nearby vehicles.
- Distracted Driving. Watching a distracted driver disobey traffic laws is scary, and careless behavior has led to more than one road rage incident. Eating, talking on the phone, and skimming your music list are all examples of distracted driving.
- Being Anonymous. The unknown emboldens some people to react in ways that would be unthinkable if their identity were revealed. Research shows an angry motorist is more likely to honk the horn and shout expletives at a stranger than someone he or she knows.
- Construction Delays. When a seven-lane highway becomes a two-lane highway during a construction bottleneck, it’s a recipe for road rage. Fortunately, law enforcement is often present in construction zones. This can put a lid on potential problems.
- Tailgating. Have you ever been in the car with someone who insists there should be no more than one and a half car lengths separating everyone on the highway? Some drivers are compelled to get very close to the car in front of them, but when you’re tailgating, either the other driver is going to ignore you or react.
How to Handle Road Rage
Checking your own behavior can go a long way in preventing unwanted outbursts from other drivers. According to the Insurance Information Institute, aggressive driving plays a major role in road rage and auto crashes. So check your attitude before you get behind the wheel, and don’t let outside events dictate your driving behavior, even if you are upset. You could save someone’s life, including your own.
If you or someone you love is in a wreck caused by an aggressive driver, experienced car accident attorneys will definitely help, but what you do at the accident scene is highly important. Victims are advised to avoid pulling over and are instead encouraged to keep safe driving to the nearest police station. Remember to document everything and take photos or video on your phone, which may be used later as evidence against a reckless driver.