According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, road rage is:
"An assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of one motor vehicle on the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle caused by an incident that occurred on a roadway."
Many things can contribute to road rage, including stress, traffic, tight schedules, anger, and frustration. The results are increased incidents of tailgating, belligerent movements, and acts of violence, including assault and murder.
Aggressive driving is the commission of 2 or more moving violations that is likely to endanger other persons or property, or a single intentional violation that requires a defensive reaction of another driver.
Symptoms of road rage and aggressive driving
- Mentally condemning or having thoughts of violence toward other drivers.
- Verbally expressing condemnation of other drivers to passengers in your vehicle.
- Not obeying traffic safety rules because you don't agree with them.
- Engaging in aggressive and risky driving, such as:
- Following too close.
- Weaving in and out of traffic.
- Speeding up to beat a traffic light.
- Cutting between vehicles to change lanes.
- Using the horn excessively.
- Flashing headlights excessively at oncoming traffic.
- Braking to get others to back off your bumper.
- Passing traffic and then slowing to teach the other driver a lesson.
How to avoid aggressive driving and road rage incidents
- Allow plenty of time for the trip, listen to soothing music, improve the comfort in your vehicle, and understand that you can't control the traffic, only your reaction to it. Frustration, anger, and impatience may be the most dangerous "drugs" on the highway.
- Be polite and courteous, even if the other driver is not. Avoid conflict if possible. If another driver challenges you, take a deep breath and move out of the way.
- Make sure you have enough room when entering traffic or changing lanes.
- Keep a safe following distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
- Don't make aggressive hand gestures to other drivers if they offend you with their driving.
- Signal when turning or changing lanes.
- Control your anger. Remember it takes two to start a fight.
- Avoid prolonged eye contact with the other driver.
- Get help. Call police on your cell phone or go to a public telephone or busy public place. Don't pull to the side of the road.
- Put yourself in the other driver's shoes. They may be driving that way because of an emergency.
Reporting aggressive driving to the police
To learn how to report aggressive driving to the police, visit the Washington State Patrol website.