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Why are Road Rage Incidents Occurring More Often?


It seems that road rage incidents are becoming more and more commonplace. More drivers are on the road, and when traffic is heavy, people can get irritated quickly. Road rage is more than frustrating — it can be dangerous. Road rage is described as intense anger behind the wheel. It is estimated that about half of all drivers have felt road rage at some point; however, most do not act on the feeling. When a driver takes action against another driver due to anger, the results can be devastating.

road rage crash

What Contributes to Road Rage?

There are a number of factors that may contribute to road rage. The Houston Metro area has a population of more than 6 million people. Many people make a long commute to get to and from work each day around Houston. For some people, the time they spend in the car can be more than a couple of hours a day. When there is high traffic due to a car wreck or weather conditions, the resulting delays increase the time of everyone’s commute. This can cause people to become angry, and they often take out their anger on other drivers.

Road rage is more common than face-to-face confrontation because people do not think of vehicles as human beings. Instead, a driver might become agitated and consider taking actions against the other car. When you are inside your car, you have a false sense of security. You feel protected, so you are more likely to act out in anger. Most people yell or make hand gestures at other drivers when they are angry. Some drivers take their anger to the extreme. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines road rage as “when a driver commits moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property, an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger of one motor vehicle on the operator or passengers of another motor vehicle”.

Preventing Road Rage Incidents

There are a few things you can do to prevent road rage incidents. For your own part, don’t get behind the wheel when you are stressed or angry. This anger will only intensify in traffic and other drivers will be sure to get you agitated more easily. Allow yourself extra time to get to your destination. That way you will have a few extra minutes and will not be under pressure if you fall behind. Get plenty of rest before you drive and put away your cell phone so you can concentrate on the road. Drive defensively and remember to give others the benefit of the doubt.

If someone is angry at you on the road, do not attempt to argue on the road. Instead, allow the other driver to pass, slow down, and stay in the right lane. If the other driver is driving erratically, call the police to report the driver. Do not follow the driver and do not engage with him. That will only serve to escalate the situation and cause a confrontation. Do not get out of your vehicle.

The American Psychological Association points out that aggressive drivers will often commit the following acts associated with road rage:

  • Engage in hostile, aggressive thinking. Drivers that engage in road rage will often report that they held disbelieving thoughts about other drivers that were not confirmed. For instance, believing that other drivers were out to “get them.” This led to an increase in retaliatory thoughts.
  • Take more risks while on the road. On average, studies have shown that high-anger drivers are more likely to engage in riskier behaviors than average drivers. This includes tailgating, speeding, rapidly switching lanes, or disobeying traffic laws and signs.
  • Get angry at a much faster rate, and behave more aggressively. High-anger drivers often report committing more aggressive actions while driving; including, but not limited to: name-calling and swearing, yelling or honking in anger, or even seeking out ways to physically harm the other driver.
  • Experience more anxiety or stress. Drivers who experience the most road rage are generally those that have anxiety or stress from other day-to-day factors such as from work or school. Thus, these drivers will not deal with this initial anxiety but will take it out on other drivers.

According to the National Safety Council, aggressive driving has been increasing because of the following factors:

  • Lack of responsible driving behavior. Educational resources are often lax when it comes to teaching about responsible driving habits. As the National Safety Council points out, too much emphasis is placed on individualism rather than community, and thus, many drivers treat the roadway as a competitive sport.
  • Reduced levels of enforcement. Unfortunately, many jurisdictions in the country have cut back on traffic enforcement due to budget cuts. This takes away the perceived threat that traffic violations usually represent.
  • More travel and congestion. According to the National Safety Council, the number of drivers has increased drastically, while the number of available roads has increased by less than 1%, causing more congestion and more headaches for drivers.

All of these factors have led to an overall increase in road rage. Remember, when you are out on the road, use caution, and follow the best practices of the rules of the road.

Sometimes a road rage incident results in an accident. Another driver may side-swipe or rear-end your vehicle. In some situations, the driver causes a multiple-vehicle crash. If you were hurt in a car accident that was due to someone else’s negligence, the other driver may owe you compensation for your injuries. Contact a personal injury lawyer in Houston at the Baumgartner Law Firm for a free initial consultation to discuss your injuries today. Call 281-587-1111 or fill out the online consultation request.