Road rage can be defined as 'violent behaviour exhibited by drivers in traffic, often as a manifestation of stress.'
Road rage is not new but it is a growing problem. It was first recognised in the USA in the 1980s. In the 1990s it became noticeable in the UK and is, unfortunately, now becoming more common.
Many accidents, and incidents of 'road rage', are the direct result of inappropriate and unsociable attitudes exhibited by some drivers...
But what do you do about it if it happens to you?
Either on the receiving end or as the 'rager'?
Use the links on the blue menu bar above to browse the Road Rage pages.
So you are a good driver. You always take care on the road and act courteously towards other drivers, always giving way when appropriate, sticking to the rules, etc.
But, sooner or later you will be faced with aggressive drivers who cut in front of you, slow you up, overtake on the wrong side, swear at you whether or not you have made a mistake, or simply behave in an anti-social way.
One definition of road rage is 'unchecked behaviour designed to cause harm to another road user' - often, however, the person committing the road rage is acting totally out of character and sometimes out of control.
Some drivers describe the red mist which clouds their judgment. They get so angry they only concentrate on getting even with another driver.
This egocentric behaviour is similar to that exhibited by angry children who cannot rationalise behaviour in a given situation. Sadly, drivers can all too easily be killed or injured when they are in this state. So here's a question...
Have you ever lost your temper? (Not just on the road, but anywhere)
If the answer to the question is 'No', see a doctor. But if you are 'normal' and you get mad from time to time, you will probably get mad on the road sooner or later; a survey carried out by the UK motoring organisation Green Flag 2007 found that eight out of ten drivers experienced some sort of road rage once a week or more.
Do you ever feel that other drivers should pay more attention? Have you ever been frustrated when stuck in traffic? Have you ever suggested to another driver (politely) that perhaps they could have done something differently? If the answer to any of these questions is 'yes', check your 'Road Rage' potential by completing the ten question quiz on the next page and then read on to find out what to do in road rage situations.
This quiz was adapted from the the original by Karen E Hamilton, Professor, George Brown College, Toronto Canada. For these questions you will need to jot down your answer 'a, b, c, d or e' for each question and then use the info to calculate where you are on the road rage scale. there are no wrong or right answers - just your answers.
If you are driving in lane three on a motorway and catch up with a driver in front of you is keeping to the speed limit do you:Question two:
a. hold back until the other driver gets out of the way
b. overtake on the left and then move back to lane three
c. follow up close and hope that the other driver gets the message
d. flash you headlights until the other driver moves
e. move to the left, drive alongside and gesture to the other driver before accelerating away
You are in a car park looking for space. You spot an empty place but there is a someone standing in the middle of the space obviously saving the space for a friend who is nowhere to be seen. Do you:
a. move on and look for another space
b. give a dirty look and then move on
c. swear and tell the person to 'F off' (or similar)
d. act like you are going to drive into to the space whether the person moves or not
e. drive into the spot just missing the person by an inch
You are stopped at a traffic light and the light has just turned green. The person in front of you is chatting on a mobile phone. Do you
a. wait calmly, realizing that it will only be a second or two
b. wait a second, put on your signals and move into another lane
c. honk your horn and shout out "Pay Attention Idiot"
d. zoom up quickly behind the person, sounding the horn
e. swerve alongside, ranting and raving, cut in front to hold them up and then zoom off
The driver behind is tailgating, do you:
a. signal and pull into another lane as soon as it is safe
b. ignore the driver because you are going at the legal speed limit
c. stick your hand out the window and give them the finger
d. slow down even more and make it impossible for the idiot to get into another lane
e. slow down, then speed up, then slow down again and slam on the brakes
When you are in your car how often do you find yourself ranting and raving:
a. almost never
c. most of the time
d. 99% of the time
e. 100% of the time in the car and 50% of the time outside of the car once you've reached your destination
Which of the following groups of people do you consider to have poor driving skills:
a. sorry I can't really categorise them
b. people who drive for a living
c. people from other ethnicity than your own, women drivers, taxi drivers
d. other ethnicity, women, teenagers, older people, people with glasses, taxi drivers, blondes, people who are so short that they can't be seen behind the wheel, minivan drivers, sports car drivers, truckers,
e. all of the above plus brunettes, black haired people, bald people, red heads, punk hair styles, people with wigs and everyone who is in front of me
I find driving to be:
a. fun and relaxing
b. relaxing when I'm alone on the road, but nerve-wracking in city traffic
c. challenging but dangerous
d. a good place where I can really let loose and express myself
e. a place where I show the rest of the world what a bunch of incompetents they are
My driving skills are:
c. better than most on the road
e. I am the best ; no one comes close to my skill
You are driving down the road going your usual speed when you spot a woman putting on her make-up while driving. Do you:
a. laugh and continue on your way.
b. drive by and give her a dirty look
c. speed past her and yell "Forget it; It won't help"
d. speed past give her the finger, yell obscenities
e. same as 'd' but also cut in front of her and brake hard
Which phrase fits best how you feel:
a. I like people
b. I like some people
c. Most people are a pain in the neck
d. I like people when they are not around
e. I like people once they are dead
The first thing to remember is that the 'rager' is almost certainly someone you don't know and are never likely to meet again (unless it's in court or in hospital). Their actions are not a personal attack on you - it's just that they can't cope with their own emotions very well.
It is not your job to enforce the rules or to teach other people a lesson - unless you are a policeman and on duty. Lots of people are rude and thoughtless, we come across them every day on the road, in the shops, at work and almost every other situation. They are everywhere.
But the good news is that each one of these people only enters your life for a few seconds or minutes.
They have to live with themselves and their own actions forever - how sad is that!
If you find yourself in a situation where you are angry with another driver, take a deep breath and ask yourself this simple question:
"What do I really want?"
When asking yourself this question, your expectation must be for something that is within your own control. For example, answering: 'I want to win the Lottery so that I don't have to drive to work' or 'I want the other guy to be a good driver instead of an idiot' will simply frustrate you further. How about: 'I want to be relaxed, calm and safe'?
When you have answered the question, 'What do I really want?', think about what you are doing to prevent yourself from getting it - what's getting in the way that you can control? If you want to be relaxed you might have to ease off the gas and let the other driver pull away; after all, do you really think he cares about your feelings and concerns?
You might even need to pull up, get out of the car and jump up and down swearing. If this is what it takes, do it. But make sure you do it on your own and well away from the people who frustrated you!
You can control your feelings in the car in the same way that you control the rest of your life. Chill out!
Avoiding anger on the road needs a little self-control and patience. Road rage is often just as bad for the 'rager' as for the victim. below, there is a list of simple suggestions to help relieve stress when driving, which should help to ensure that you never 'lose it' behind the wheel.
Despite the information given in this section of the web site the chances of a serious road rage attack are remote, especially if you follow this simple advice.
The following points will help you to cope with the stresses and strains that some people perceive to be present in modern driving. By choosing to adopt the appropriate behaviour and taking the correct actions, you will find that driving can be stress-free and enjoyable.
Try to see the other driver's point of view. The car that has just 'cut you up' may well be driven by a fool who doesn't deserve a driving licence. However, it might just be that the driver is rushing to see a dying relative, or to witness the birth of his first child.
More advice in the 'Driving Alone' area.
This video shot in Australia shows an angry car driver totally lose control after getting upset with a truck driver - it demonstrates totally irrational behaviour as a result of an incident on the road. Although we don't see the truck driver, he responded in what seems to be a sensible way by staying in the cab.
Warning: This clip contains abusive language.