Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Apr 6, 2022

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Key Takeaways

  • Road rage is major anger or aggression coming from, or targeted toward, fellow drivers
  • Common signs of road rage include tailgating, honking, yelling, and cutting off other drivers
  • Remaining calm during incidents of road rage involves avoiding eye contact, remaining in your vehicle, and calling for help if necessary

We all become vulnerable to the potential of road rage as soon as we step behind the wheel. Not only can we become victims of road rage, but we can also serve as instigators.

We’re here to help you to understand road rage and how to avoid becoming a contributor. Outlined below are several ways to avoid being an aggressive driver and what to do if confronted by one.

What is road rage?

Road rage is the expression of extreme anger or aggression toward other drivers while behind the wheel. Road rage occurs often and is known to cause very dangerous, and sometimes deadly, situations among drivers.

Several factors may contribute to road rage:

  • Traffic. Anger levels can be significantly heightened amidst heavy traffic, while waiting too long for a parking spot, or during a negative encounter with a road cyclist.
  • Running late. Being tardy for a meeting or appointment can significantly increase anxiety and, therefore, contribute to road rage.
  • Anonymity. Many drivers feel more confident in displaying aggressive behavior when they think that they won’t be recognized or seen again.
  • Arrogance. Some drivers believe that the rules of the road don’t apply to them.
  • Learned behavior. For many drivers, angry behavior on the road is as normal as stopping at a red light.

Although you may not consider yourself prone to aggressive behavior while driving, you may be more vulnerable to it than you think.

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What are the most common signs of road rage?

There are many ways in which road rage can be displayed. These are the most common:

  • Tailgating
  • Excessive honking
  • Angry gestures
  • Preventing another vehicle from switching lanes
  • Cutting off other drivers
  • Confronting other drivers
  • Intentional collision with another vehicle

Signs of road rage are rather obvious when happening in real time. If you sense that you are a target of road rage, remember to remain calm and avoid retaliation.

How You Can Avoid Becoming a Contributor to Road Rage

One of the best things you can do to avoid contributing to road rage is to ensure that you are aware of your own emotions and the risks involved in becoming angry. Aside from that, there are a few concrete steps you can try in order to remain calm and drive safely.

Give Yourself Enough Time

No matter where you’re going, ensure that you have plenty of time to reach your destination. Feeling rushed can heavily contribute to road rage. Remember, it’s better to arrive early than not at all.

Stay Calm

If you find that you’re high-strung, give yourself some time to cool down before getting behind the wheel. The calmer you feel, the safer you’ll drive.

Be Patient With Other Drivers

Although easier said than done, it’s always a good idea to be patient with drivers who are moving slowly. Try to remember that they may be lost or lack confidence behind the wheel.

Watch Your Hand Gestures

Attempt to display positive hand gestures. Remember to wave, thank other drivers, and show your appreciation as often as possible. Initially, it may be challenging, but it’s well worth it when you begin to experience reciprocation.

Keep Your Honking to a Minimum

Use your horn only when necessary. Don’t engage it unless it will help to avoid a collision. Otherwise, honking your horn only increases the anxiety of everyone on the road and can, therefore, contribute to road rage.

Avoid Confrontation

Stopping your vehicle to confront another driver can directly lead to incidents of road rage. When frustrated with a fellow driver, remember to take a deep breath, avoid retaliation, and continue driving.

If another driver acts aggressively toward you, do your best to keep your distance, avoid engaging in negative behavior, continue driving, and seek help if necessary.

What should I do if I’m confronted by an angry driver?

 Be sure to report road rage to law enforcement when it occurs, and remember that car insurance companies can raise your premiums following incidents of road rage. All the more reason to keep calm and drive on. You can avoid becoming a contributor to road rage by avoiding eye contact with angry drivers and remembering a few other basic tips.

Here’s how you can remain calm if another driver exits their vehicle to confront you:

  • Stay in your car with your windows up and doors locked.
  • Avoid argument, confrontation, eye contact, and inappropriate gestures.
  • Drive away from the area and toward a place where you can get help.
  • Don’t go home if you think that you’re being followed by an angry driver.
  • If you are sitting in heavy traffic and can’t drive your vehicle, make it clear to the aggressor that you’re using your phone to call the police.
  • If the person still doesn’t back down, honk your horn to alert others that you’re in trouble.

Once you regain your composure, take note of the aggressive driver’s vehicle make and model as well as their license plate. Report road rage to the police as soon as you’re in a safe place to do so.

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If Instigating Road Rage Has Become a Problem for You

If you are prone to instigating road rage and easily become aggressive toward fellow drivers, remember that there are steps you can take to keep yourself and others safe. Attempt to put the following into practice daily, so that your mood becomes more stable when you get behind the wheel:

  • Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sufficient sleep can lead to irritable behavior. Attempting to get more quality sleep can help you to remain calm when driving.
  • Never drink before driving. Although there are legal limits to alcohol use before driving, it is recommended that drinking alcohol be avoided altogether. Not only can it impair your driving, but it can also perpetuate increasingly aggressive behavior.
  • Play calming music. Put calm music on the radio that you enjoy. Calming music or books on tape are great options for helping to maintain balanced emotions.
  • Have empathy for other drivers. Take note of the actions of all other drivers around you. Remember that people don’t have it out for you, and that safe driving is a team effort.
  • Display inspiring photos in your car. Hang photos of loved ones, animals, or places you love inside your car. Remember that you want to return to them, and that driving safely is the first step in doing that. Make sure, however, that they aren’t distracting and don’t block your view of the road.
  • Keep auto rates low. Remember that car insurance discounts can be a factor in long-term safe driving. Avoiding incidents of road rage is a significant factor in maintaining a clean driving record.

If all else fails, keep in mind that incidents of road rage can have a high price tag. Endangering other people on a highway while you are experiencing road rage can result in injury or death, as well as other repercussions. Vehicle damage, tickets, legal fees, and increased insurance rates can all result from road rage. Take proper care of your body and mind to avoid these consequences.

Also, remember the basic rules of the road. For instance, you may pass another vehicle on the right if it is waiting to turn left, but otherwise, pass on the left or stay in your lane and be patient.

Keep Calm and Drive On

Road rage impacts all of us at one point or another. Maintaining your composure when behind the wheel is crucial to keeping yourself and fellow drivers safe. Try playing calming music, displaying items you love, and having patience with other drivers to help stabilize your mood.

If you become a victim of road rage, remember to avoid eye contact, keep calm and focused, drive to a safe location if you feel threatened, and alert law enforcement to any individuals or vehicles that have threatened you. Above all, remaining extra cautious of road rage can make the streets a safer place for everyone.