There is no national definition for the term "road
rage". However, it is commonly defined as a societal
condition where motorists lose their temper in reaction to a
traffic disturbance. In most cases, the traffic situations
encountered are typical of today's normal driving conditions and
higher traffic volumes.
"Aggressive driving" refers to an angry
motorist attempting to intentionally injure or kill another
driver because of a traffic dispute. Aggressive drivers react
negatively and uses their vehicles to retaliate by making sudden,
threatening maneuvers. This makes "road rage" a serious
issue of traffic safety - the safety of yourself and others.
say aggressive driving behaviors are triggered by a variety of
stimuli. Some are provoked by the actions of another driver;
others are set off by roadway congestion. But, most are caused by
the drivers' own moods and reactions when they get behind the
Profile. Persons who exhibit aggressive behaviors cross
all age, race, socioeconomic and gender lines. Even persons who
are usually "mild-mannered" can blow their top behind
the wheel. These persons may only become mad when they're on the
road. However, persons who are characteristically cynics, rude,
angry or aggressive are prone to get angry more often. Those
persons are "raging" at home, at work and on the road
- Tailgating to pressure a driver to go faster or get out
of the way.
- Flashing lights in order to signal persons to move to
- Obscene gesturing.
- Changing lanes without signaling.
- Blasting the horn.
- Frequently changing lanes by weaving back and forth.
- Racing to beat a yellow light that's about to turn red.
- Traveling in the passing or left lane at a slower speed,
making it impossible for others to pass.
- Driving with the high beams on behind another vehicle or
toward oncoming traffic.
- Cutting people off. Slowing down after passing someone.
- Not making a right turn in the right-hand turn lane.
- Not reacting quickly after the red light turns green.
What Motorists Can Do:
- Use directional lights to indicate a lane shift.
- Follow the laws of the road.
- Be polite and courteous.
- Stay within the speed limits.
- Drive at a safe following distance.
- Stay mostly within one lane.
- Don't become distracted by using the car phone or reading
the paper while the vehicle is in motion.
- Put some physical distance between you and drivers who
are behaving erratically.
- Don't show a reaction to the aggressive driver;
especially, avoid eye Contact.
- Avoid behaviors that antagonize or irritate others.
- Learn to control your temper and keep your cool in
- Use your horn sparingly.
- Keep the music in your vehicle at a level that doesn't
- If you are feeling frustrated - create a distraction such
as turning on the radio, start a conversation with a
passenger, play 20 questions, or talk yourself through
the situation to calm down.
- Be tolerant of those who exhibit non-conforming traffic
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, approximately
250,000 people have been killed and 20 million motorists injured
in traffic crashes between 1990-96. The U.S. DOT estimates that
two thirds of fatalities are at least partially caused by
aggressive driving. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic
Safety that included reports from 30 newspapers, a review of
insurance claims and police reports from 16 cities revealed the
following statistics among 10,037 occurrences between 1990 and
- 10,037 incidents of aggressive driving
- 218 deaths
- More than 12,610 injuries
Thanks to the State of Iowa,
Department of Transportation for the above information.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Study
According to a national survey recently conducted by the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the majority of
motorists consider unsafe driving by others a significant threat
to their personal safety. The survey results, released January
22, 1999, included:
- 98 percent of those surveyed felt it was important to do
something about unsafe driving. Of that 98 percent, 75
percent felt it was very important.
- About one in three felt that drivers in their area were
driving somewhat or a lot more aggressively than a year
- Among reasons for increased aggressive driving,
respondents included drivers being rushed or behind
schedule (23 percent); increased traffic or congestion
(22 percent); careless, inconsiderate drivers (12
percent); and immature, young drivers (12 percent).
- More than half (59 percent) of the drivers reported they
see vehicles traveling at unsafe speeds all (31 percent)
or most of the time (28 percent). Another 35 percent saw
drivers traveling at unsafe speeds at least some of the
- Respondents listed the following as unsafe behaviors,
other than speed, that they encounter on the roads:
weaving in and out of traffic (24 percent), tailgating
(17 percent), driver inattention (15 percent), and unsafe
lane changes (10 percent).