How to Avoid Road Rage

You're running late for an appointment and hit a traffic jam. Or maybe someone cuts you off. How do you respond? (Sponsor: GEICO)

angry emoji driver

You’re running late for an appointment and hit a traffic jam. Or maybe someone cuts you off. How do you respond? Driving can be stressful, but feeling angry when behind the wheel could lead to aggressive driving, distracted driving, or even an accident.

Aggressive driving can take many forms, like tailgating, weaving, and speeding. It happens a lot: One survey found that nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger or aggression behind the wheel at least once over the course of the prior year. The consequences can be serious: Aggressive driving played a role in 56 percent of fatal crashes over a five-year period, according to one analysis.

Here’s what to know about road rage, including tips on staying calm and what to do when confronted with an aggressive driver.

worried emoji driver

Factors Contributing To Road Rage1

Traffic delays
Heavy traffic, sitting at stoplights, looking for a parking space or even waiting for passengers can increase a driver’s anger level.
Running late
Running behind for a meeting or appointment can cause drivers to be impatient.
Anonymity
If drivers feel that they probably won’t see other drivers again, they may feel more comfortable engaging in risky driving behaviors like tailgating, cutting people off, excessive honking or making rude gestures.
Disregard for others and the law
Some drivers may think the rules don’t apply to them.
Habitual or learned behavior
For some drivers, aggressive driving may be the norm.
exasperated emoji driver

Most Common Forms Of Road Rage2

  • Tailgating
  • Yelling
  • Honking in anger
  • Making angry gestures
  • Trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes
  • Cutting off another vehicle on purpose
  • Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver
  • Bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose
happy face driver

Tips To Avoid A Road Rage Incident3

Before You Get Behind The Wheel
  • Don’t rush. Give yourself time to get where you’re going; you’re less likely to become impatient and take unnecessary risks.
  • Cool off. If you’re upset, take time to calm down.
What To Remember When Driving
  • Give other drivers a break. If someone is driving slowly, keep in mind they might be lost.
  • Use hand gestures wisely. Keep gestures positive — say, waving to a driver who lets you in when merging.
  • Don’t tailgate. Always keep a safe distance from the car in front, no matter how slowly they might be driving.
  • Lay off the horn. Honking out of frustration won’t solve any problems; it will just increase the stress level for everyone on the road.
  • Don’t stop to confront another driver. Stopping could lead to a dangerous situation for everyone.
If Another Driver Acts Aggressively
  • Stay away. Safely change lanes, gradually slow down or even exit the highway to keep a safe distance from the aggressive driver.
  • Don’t reciprocate. Ignore the temptation to respond to the other driver; it could cause the situation to escalate. Don’t make eye contact.
  • Don’t stop. Stopping could lead to a person-to-person confrontation, which could be dangerous.
  • Watch your back. If you’re worried that the other driver is following you, keep your doors locked and drive to the nearest police station.

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Sources
1 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
2 AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety
3 Insurance Information Institute