Road rage

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Road rage is defined as an acute behavioral dysregulation characterized by an extreme expression of anger or frustration, often to the point of uncontrollable rage typically disproportionate to the situation at hand, that occurs within the context of driving an automobile. It is generally considered a subset of Intermittent Explosive Disorder. [1] Drivers most likely to engage in road rage are young males who drive recklessly and aggressively, with possible alcohol and psychiatric problems.[2]

Aggression and road rage

Road rage is an acute event that occurs during aggressive driving. While each incidence of road rage is aggressive, not all aggressive driving constitutes road rage. Some examples of aggressive driving are: speeding, following too close, unsafe lane changes, driving while intoxicated, disregarding of traffic signs and signals, improper passing, driving while suspended, and being reckless, careless, or inattentive.[3] Road rage is more extreme form when a driver or passenger may attempt to kill, injure, or intimidate another driver or passenger.[4]


Road rage has serious consequences, and concern for public safety has prompted attempts at prevention. Motorists are often proud of their aggressiveness, so it's common for children to hear parents and other adults swearing and demeaning other drivers. Adult drivers must model emotional intelligence from the child's earliest age as a passenger. Children experience their first "driving lessons" as infants and toddlers in their parent's and caretaker's autos. Parents can help them to learn how to behave in the car by setting a good example for them, and modeling safe behavior.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an aggressive driver advisory telling motorists what to do if confronted.[3] This advice is intended to help people avoid the confrontations with aggressive drivers and to support law enforcement’s efforts to reduce road rage incidents.

  1. First and foremost make every attempt to get out of their way.
  2. Put your pride in the back seat. Do not challenge them by speeding up or attempting to hold-your-own in your travel lane.
  3. Wear your seat belt. It will it hold you in your seat and behind the wheel in case you need to make an abrupt driving maneuver and it will protect you in a crash.
  4. Avoid eye contact.
  5. Ignore gestures and refuse to return them.
  6. Report aggressive drivers to the appropriate authorities by providing a vehicle description, license number, location, and if possible, direction of travel.
  7. If you have a "cell" phone, and can do it safely, call the police.
  8. If an aggressive driver is involved in a crash farther down the road, stop a safe distance from the crash scene, wait for the police to arrive and report the driving behavior that you witnessed.


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  1. Craig-Henderson, Kellina M. (2007). Road Rage: When Drivers Lose It -- A review of Road Rage: Assessment and Treatment of the Angry, Aggressive Driver by Galovski, Tara E., Malta, Loretta S. and Blanchard, Edward. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2006.
  2. Asbridge M, Smart RG, Mann RE (2006). "Can we prevent road rage?". Trauma Violence Abuse 7 (2): 109–21. DOI:10.1177/1524838006286689. PMID 16534147. Research Blogging.
  3. 3.0 3.1 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA). Strategies for Aggressive Driver Enforcement Retrieved on 2007-12-24.
  4. Smart, R.G., & Mann,R.E. (2002). Is road rage a serious traffic problem? Journal of Traffic Medicine, 3, 183-189.