What Is the Main Cause of Road Rage?

Medically Reviewed on 5/19/2022
What is the main cause of road rage?
Road rage is a form of irrational rage triggered by minor inconveniences and mishaps while driving.

The main cause of road rage can be the outcome of preexisting and poorly handled stress or anger issues in some circumstances. There are certain factors such as losing your job or a personal/family catastrophic disease that cause:

  • A lot of stress in your daily life.
  • Exceptionally severe tension.
  • Poorly controlled stress.

All of these might interfere with a person's ability to face issues on the road calmly.

Although there are several factors or causes of road rage, what provokes emotions of road rage in one person may not trigger feelings of road rage in another.

  • People who are naturally impatient may experience road rage while going about their everyday activities on the road because they want and/or expect to reach where they need to go fast and in as little time as possible.
  • Road rage may occur if their travel from one point to another takes longer than intended.
  • According to statistics, in the United States, speeding is the cause of 26 percent of all road deaths in 2019.

What is road rage?

Road rage is a form of irrational rage triggered by minor inconveniences and mishaps while driving. It is most typically used in a retaliatory manner—the enraged driver feels they have been mistreated in some way, their fury gets the best of them, and they inflict revenge on the supposed offender.

Although most cases of road rage include little more than yelling expletives, this is not always the case. Historically, road rage has resulted in violence in some circumstances.

  • In fact, during the last seven years, road rage has been responsible for about 12,610 injuries and 218 killings.
  • Firearms are used in an estimated 37 percent of aggressive driving events in the United States.

These figures are not intended to be alarming but to highlight the realities and potential of escalating acts against strangers on the road.

7 causes of road rage

Here are the seven most typical factors that contribute to road rage or aggressive driving behavior:

  1. Traffic delays: Heavy traffic, sitting at stoplights, seeking a parking place, or even waiting for passengers can all contribute to a driver's rage.
  2. Running late: Drivers who are late for a meeting or an appointment may become agitated.
  3. Anonymity: The driver may feel more comfortable participating in unsafe driving behaviors such as
    • Tailgating
    • Cutting others off
    • Excessive honking
    • Make hostile gestures if they believe they won't encounter other drivers again
  4. Ignorance of others and the law: Some drivers may believe that regulations do not apply to them.
  5. Learned or habitual conduct: Aggressive driving may be the norm for certain drivers who may be aggressive in their everyday lives.
  6. Texting or being distracted while driving: Seeing a distracted driver who mistakenly cuts you off or otherwise drives recklessly may lead to rage aimed at the irresponsible driver. It is, however, safer and more effective to avoid them or pull over and call the authorities than engage them.
  7. Impatience: Impatient Drivers are more prone to drive recklessly because they think their appointments are more important than everyone else's on the road.


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What are the signs of road rage?

There are several methods for a person to express road rage in reaction to traffic, and these acts might vary from person to person, as well as from one scenario to the next (for the same individual).

The following acts may indicate that an angry motorist is experiencing road rage:

  • Feeling irritated and irritable behind the wheel
  • Speeding beyond the limit or speeding in areas where it is considered inappropriate
  • Changing lanes without indicators or changing lanes while being too close to other vehicles and passing by them aggressively
  • Nagging about other drivers to the passengers
  • Constant honking
  • Giving dirty looks to other drivers
  • Flashing lights at other drivers to show their disapproval
  • Limiting the driving of other drivers, frustrating them, and not allowing them to
    • Change lanes
    • Merge into traffic
  • Showing rude gestures or swearing or yelling loud at other drivers
  • Sudden jerking of the vehicle

A person may exhibit road rage in one or more of the following ways in more unique, highly hazardous, and terrifying road rage incidents:

  • Shouting or speeding up behind a car in such a way that it appears they may rear-end it
  • Veering sideways and/or coming dangerously near to another vehicle
  • Following or chasing another driver
  • Halting or pulling over to dispute with, physically assault, or attack another driver
  • Attempting to cause another car to crash as a method of retribution or punishment
  • Purposefully colliding with another vehicle or creating an accident

7 ways to prevent road rage

Here are seven things that help you lessen the frequency and intensity of road rage, aside from obtaining professional therapy for any underlying mental condition such as anger:

  1. Do not upset other drivers: Avoid making others upset by driving as safely, rationally, and reliably as possible without responding to other drivers' driving behaviors, which include
    • Using indicators correctly
    • Driving at the speed limit
    • Observing all traffic regulations
    • Considering other drivers
  2. Avoid trouble: When you see someone driving poorly or an angry/aggressive motorist, remove yourself from the situation. Avoid establishing eye contact with or responding to someone doing anything wrong or an upset motorist. If you are in danger, go straight to the police station.
  3. Show empathy toward others: Try to be empathetic to other drivers, such as when a car is attempting to merge from an on-ramp into heavy interstate traffic. Keep in mind that more often than not, another driver’s behavior is not designed to irritate or annoy you.
  4. Remember that only your emotions are under your control: You only have control over your reactions. It is important to realize that you do not influence the reactions or behavior of other drivers on the road. In addition, you do not influence traffic conditions. Concentrate your efforts on regulating your reflexes while driving rather than on events outside of your control.
  5. Know your triggers: Make a note of what irritates you on the road. This will enable you to acquire a picture of what exactly causes you to experience road rage, which will assist you to construct a route forward in terms of conquering these sentiments.
  6. Ensure proper sleep: Check to see whether you're getting enough sleep. An average adult needs seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night to operate well. When you are well-rested, you are more likely to handle your emotions and reactions more effectively.
  7. Start early provided you will have travel time: Allow enough time to drive to your destination. By providing yourself more time than you need to go from point A to point B, you can lessen the stress associated with not having enough time to travel to your destination.

If left uncontrolled and/or untreated, road rage may have major and disastrous implications not only for the drivers involved but also for any passengers, surrounding pedestrians, and linked relatives and friends.

Road rage is never worth it, regardless of the circumstances, and reaching home (or your destination) safely is far more significant than taking a risk and attempting to teach another motorist a lesson, despite their behavior on the road.

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Medically Reviewed on 5/19/2022
Image Source: iStock Image

The fast and the furious: https://www.apa.org/topics/anger/road-rage

Speeding: https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/speeding