According to AAA, nearly 80 percent of drivers have expressed significant anger or aggression behind the wheel at least once in the past year. Even more alarming, approximately 8 million people took that aggression to a more extreme reaction, by getting out of their car to confront another driver for example, or purposely ramming the vehicle in front of them.
While it’s normal to get frustrated when you’re stuck in traffic or another driver unexpectedly cuts you off, getting filled with blinding rage to the point where you lose control or want to injure someone is a serious issue. Even if you don’t intend to start a confrontation, road rage incidents have the potential to escalate quickly. A frustrated gesture, honking, yelling or other aggressive driving maneuvers can easily trigger a reaction from someone who is already on edge. However satisfying it may feel to vent your annoyance at other drivers, it’s not worth the risk of property damage and potential violence.
Scary Road Rage Statistics
Road rage is a leading cause of accidents in the United States. A few eye-opening facts and statistics about road rage include:
- 66 percent of all traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving;
- Over a seven-year study period, there were over 200 murders caused by road rage incidents;
- 49 percent of road rage incidents are caused by a distracted driver;
- 37 percent of aggressive driving situations involve a firearm;
- More than 12,000 preventable injuries have occurred due to road rage.
Many drivers don’t consider themselves as aggressive when they get behind the wheel, even though they engage in behaviors that would be classified as such. Aggressive (and dangerous) driving includes:
- Running red lights or stop signs;
- Flashing your lights to get someone to speed up;
- Tailgating someone closely;
- Passing other drivers where passing is prohibited;
- Erratic lane changes or darting in front of other drivers;
- Yelling and honking at other drivers when there is no pertinent safety reason to do so.
What Causes Road Rage?
There are a number of factors which have led to a rise in road rage incidents in the U.S. There are more drivers on the road than ever before, drivers are more distracted by technology than ever before, and the pace of our lives and commutes leaves us all stressed.
When people get stressed out by other aspects of their lives, sitting in traffic can easily add to this stress and cause them to behave inappropriately. Additionally, it’s estimated that seven percent of Americans suffer from a condition called intermittent explosive disorder (IED), which causes an individual’s anger to flare instantly and violently. Even the slightest offense on the road can increase the potential for a road rage incident for these individuals.
Tips to Avoid a Getting into a Road Rage Incident
Aggressive, angry drivers affect everyone on the road, from other drivers to pedestrians and innocent bystanders. If you find that you’ve angered another driver, the best thing to do is to avoid reacting or retaliating in any way as this will only further escalate the situation. Follow these basic rules of thumb to avoid a road rage incident:
- Avoid eye contact with angry, aggressive drivers;
- Don’t gesture, honk at or yell at other drivers outside of an actual emergency or safety issue;
- Don’t tailgate;
- Obey all traffic laws;
- Be aware of your surroundings and be on the lookout for aggressive drivers;
- If you find yourself getting angry, take a deep breath and try to calm down;
- If an angry driver approaches on foot and tries to confront you while stopped, call 911 and stay in the car with the doors and windows closed and locked.
Don’t let a moment of irritation turn into the potential for a crash or a violent incident with a stranger. Remind yourself that getting to your destination safe and sound is always the most important thing.
Drive Team is a premier driving school, offering teen driving classes and corporate driver training to drivers of all ages to ensure everyone stays as safe as possible behind the wheel. Contact us today for more information.