7 Ways To Avoid Road Rage

road rage imageAggressive driving behaviors, such as speeding and tailgating, can often lead to road rage. According to the National Safety Council, motorists rate this as a top threat to highway safety.

Here, we provide practical tips on how to avoid road rage—as well as some startling stats, common reasons that cause road rage and wisdom from experts—to ensure your safety while driving.

7 ways to avoid road rage:

  1. Move over if someone is tailgating you
  2. Use an “I’m sorry” gesture (e.g. wave) to attempt to defuse the situation
  3. Plan ahead; allow time for delays during your journey
  4. Consider whether you’ve done something to annoy the other driver and adjust your driving accordingly
  5. Listen to music you enjoy
  6. Use your horn sparingly
  7. Avoid eye contact with angry drivers and give them plenty of room

“If we can put ourselves in the shoes of other drivers, we are more capable of understanding their behavior and staying calm. If we can’t appreciate their situation, then we are more likely to get offended, angry and even rageful if their driving bothers us.” — Dr. Robert Nemerovski, psychologist specializing in anger and anxiety.

Common reasons drivers experience road rage:

  • Fighting over a parking space
  • Cut off
  • Not allowed to pass
  • Given the finger
  • Annoyed at someone honking too much
  • Stuck behind a slow driver
  • Tailgated

“There’s a lot of talk about driving under the influence, and oftentimes people are referring to drugs or alcohol. But people are driving under the influence every day—and that influence is rage.” — Shannon Munford, anger management expert.

Reasons to avoid aggressive driving*:

  • Aggressive driving plays a role in 66% of traffic fatalities.
  • 50% of people who encounter aggressive driving behavior respond in kind.
  • A firearm is involved in 37% of aggressive driving incidents.
  • Out of 10,000 road-rage incidents committed over a seven-year span, there were 218 deaths and 12,610 injuries recorded.

“Some good people have bad days and end up in situations they normally never would, simply due to powerful emotions like anger, frustration and stress taking over.” — Richard Senshido, self-defense expert on de-escalating situations with road ragers.

Save money on your car insurance premium by taking a defensive driver course in your state — it’s a great way to review the rules of the road and become a better driver, and learn how to steer clear of aggressive behaviors caused by other drivers.  

Next article: Does Driving Stress You Out?

* statistics according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

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  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 nod..an 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!!!