angry emoji driver

Road Rage and Aggressive Driving Behavior

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.

What Is Road Rage?

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 driverRoad Rage Factors

Here are some common factors that often contribute to road rage incidents or aggressive driving behavior.

  • 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.
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exasperated emoji driverMost Common Forms Of Road Rage

  • 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 driverHow to Avoid Road Rage

Make sure you have the right car insurance policy to protect yourself from aggressive drivers or if you find yourself the victim of a road rage incident.

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.

Taking a defensive driving course could help you stay safer on the road; it could also qualify you for a discount on car insurance. Search for a course near you at

Read more: Distracted Driving: Here’s Why You Should Pay Attention

1 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
2 AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety
3 Insurance Information Institute
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    Leave a comment

  1. Eric says,

    I also have a hard time holding my frustration with slow left lane drivers, etc.
    What has helped me more than anything is when someone taught me: “assume incompetence before malice.” If someone can’t help/doesn’t know better, then it’s not their fault.

  2. Dr. Clifford N. Alford says,

    My car is wrapped with a message for my favorite non-profit organization, and I drive exactly the speedlimit everywhere i go and as long as the weather conditions allow. It’s great fun going down the highway, and seeing speeders drop back to jot down the website before speeding off again. Of course, there are times when some idiot gets behind me who thinks that the speed limit is too slow, and that I should drive faster. I ignore them and continue to drive the speed limit. I don’t speed for anyone. If they want trouble then they can follow me where I am going. As a Master Close Combat Instructor I have no problem with making them a part of my next advertising campaign, but I would much rather buy them a cup of coffee and help them calm down if I can. The best enemy in the world is the one who becomes a friend instead, and the best fight in the world is the one you never had. You don’t have to give in to bullies, but you don’t have to be an idiot about it either.

  3. Arleeta Bertoldi says,

    Today’s road rage aggressions have gone to an out of control level. Almost everyday I witness aggressive drivers on the road. All drivers, please drive safely for you, your loved ones, and everyone’s sake on the road.

  4. renee says,

    CALM DOWN everybody. I am a slower driver. I drive the speed limit or slightly over, but Iam cautious. I am passed by almost everyone. A car is a huge hulking piece of metal and it is dangerous.

    I live in the DC metro area and it is wild how many people get all worked up in the car. We have a lot of traffic. We have a lot of people driving . it is what it is. You may get through one or two lights, but chances are, in the city, i will soon be right behind you.

    I don’t understand why anyone would say that someone who is driving the speed limit is inciting rage: its the speed limit. That is shifting responsiblity — you want to drive fast, others want to follow the speed limit. Why is the decision o a speeder more valuable or more right than sommeone following the speed limit? That is a fantasy. Very few peoplel drive 45 on the freeway. I know because I woudl be passing them and it is very rare that I pass someone.

    That being said, I stayin the right lane, i try not to upset others. But i don’t want to drive fast, and i don’t like people who drive close behind me. I pull off the road if i need to to let folks pass, like on a two lane highway. I am just not in that big of a hurry. I would rather be safe than hurt someone. I would rather stay calm and give myself all the advantages I can. I wish others would calm down and slow down too. Cars are dangerous.

    Those are my thoughts on this topic.

  5. John says,

    I DEFINITELY don’t agree with the suggestion of; make an “I’m sorry” gesture! Nonverbal gestures are often misinterpreted for something completely different than what was intended. Additionally, many road rage perpetrators view apologetic behavior as submissive or weak, weakness in the eyes of an enraged person will draw more aggression. No response and no eye contact is best.

    Some years ago I had my car windows tinted as dark as the law will allow. Now nobody ever bothers me because they can’t tell who’s in the vehicle, if it’s more than one guy, or possibly even an unmarked police vehicle. Works great!!

    • The Right Way says,

      If I even think I have accidentally cut someone off or veered into their space inappropriately, I always raise my hand as a sign of recognition and acknowledgement, a thank you. There’s no other way to interpret that.. I do it very gently combined with a head expression of acknowledgement and thanks. It works everytime…and they usually nod back or wave in acknowledgement as well. That’s all the human spirit wants…is acknowledgement…it usually diffuses the situation…it will diffuse 90% of any impending rage/controversy or conflict that is brewing.

  6. Veronica says,

    Ok I’ve been that slow driver on the left lane. But honestly I didn’t know how legally fast you can go on the left lane because I recently got licensed. So maybe knowlegde and experience is key here. Lets not forget we’ve all been those new drivers who are not experienced and made mistakes. Lets try to be forgiving and patient please!

    • D.C. says,

      Left lane = passing lane.

      Speed is irrelevant. No matter the speed, the only time you enter that lane is to pass. If you are travelling the speed limit and cannot pass at that speed, then you won’t enter the passing lane.

      Furthermore, if you aren’t moving at a speed fast enough to pass… then you will never approach the traffic in front of you, warranting a pass in the first place.

  7. John says,

    Long ago while researching a book I went through rally driving school on the way to protection driving (aka body guarding) school. Changed my life. Learning to treat traffic in front of you as a problem and sea of options to analyze, solve, and blend with takes the rage right out of you and also makes you a much less likely target for rage. Highly recommended.

  8. GenderNeutral says,

    “Move over if someone is tailgating you”: Why risk changing lanes and losing face, especially if the tailgater is the one breaking the law.

    “Use an “I’m sorry” gesture to attempt to defuse the situation” : What gesture would that be? And why admit guilt to a lunatic?

    “Use your horn sparingly”: Most states have laws against using horns except in emergency situations.

    • Don says,

      So your solution to the tailgater is to just let him/her tailgate you because he/she is in the wrong, anyway? As I told the other gentleman, it is actions like that which cause loose canons to go off. Just get out of the fool’s way!

    • Alex says,

      ““Move over if someone is tailgating you”: Why risk changing lanes and losing face, especially if the tailgater is the one breaking the law.”

      Correction. You’re both breaking the law. Want to make sure it’s just him and not you? Then move the right lane and be the law abiding driver you thought you were before you had this knowledge.

  9. Paul D says,

    If someone is passing you on the right YOU are in the WRONG lane!
    All of the lanes are NOT the same. They teach this in drivers ED!
    If some people want to get where they are going faster than you , let them go.
    Slower traffic move to the right. Get out of the way! Be aware of other drivers.
    If you don’t know where you are or where you are going pull off the road and figure it out before mixing with traffic.
    No matter how fast I am driving if a faster vehicle is coming up behind me I get out of the way.

  10. Nae Nae says,

    Thank you GEICO for sharing the Road Rage Tips, we all need it. Drive safely all and stay warm! I love driving, but sometimes I have to be careful of not responding to those who drive unsafe. It’s getting there. Thanks again, GEICO

  11. william says,

    I used to flip people off whenever I was tailgated or cut off, then I had someone follow me one time, so I don’t do that anymore.

    • J says,

      I don’t know what it is but flipping someone off sets off some type of time bomb that just makes them go belligerent. I’ve been followed in a high-speed chase for flipping someone off. It’s very easy to get into a road-rage incident in northern Virginia because everyone is so self-absorbed.

  12. Kay Jay says,

    Law enforcement officers contribute to the problem by not patrolling main thoroughfares effectively. Tailgating and speeding are out of control and need more effective enforcement.

    • brian says,

      Lol. if you get a ticket tomorrow you will blame the cops for the problem. why do the police get blamed for every action of other people? I just don’t get it

    • Albert Hess says,

      Law enforcement officers contribute to the problem by cruising at 15 -20 over the limit (with no lights or siren on) and then sitting 10 feet of the bumper of people who do not respect their wonderfulness.

      • D.C. says,

        Why are you staying in front of a cop car? Are you someone who enjoys having the cops scrutinize every driving action you take for the time you are driving?

        Most people find that uncomfortable.

  13. chris says,

    Dr. Nemerovski. So he wants me to understand the other driver is impatient, selfish and has contempt for someone like me doing the speed limit. I am to appreciate that? His line of reasoning is odd. Then he wants me to believe everyone is an angry driver?

    Munford is no expert. Rage is not an influence, it is an action. I think she forgot how the amygdaloid complex works. Rage is a reaction. Senshido knows exactly what he is talking about. He sumed it up in one sentence. He speaks the truth. Anyone with an amygdala can commit road rage. See the book, The gift of Fear. I hope no real bad guy reads that book. Like Gary Smalley said bad guys can use good information to become better manipulators.

    One of my hobbies is neurology. I just want to understand why we do the things we do. It is frightening to know that anyone of us can be high jacked by his or her own amygdala. I have noticed this. I lived in Washington state and that state is full of angry drivers in a hurry to go nowhere. Oregon is full of them too. But here in northern California people are happy and not angry drivers. In Sacramento drivers will look out for each other. Our insurance rates dropped too. Thanks Califorina our family loves you!!!

    • Rick says,

      I quite agree. Moved to Sacramento 4 years ago, from Phoenix. Noticed the difference right away. Thank you to all the GOOD drivers in NorCali!

      • chris says,

        Road rage is everywhere. Just less in sacramento. Take your california plate to seattle and get back to us how much rage is there. You will appreciate sac drivers. I have a washington plate and they are nice to me. Thanks sac drivers!!!

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