Burnett & Williams

Dealing With Road Rage

Dealing With Road Rage

Most drivers have experienced some form of road rage, whether at the hands of another driver or feeling it themselves. We’ve gathered some tips on how to help deal with both situations. 

Cars Lined Up in Traffic Jam
Photo Krasula Shutterstock

In October of 2019, The Zebra conducted a national survey of American drivers to determine their perception of the “road rage” phenomenon. A staggering 82% of drivers reported that they had experienced road rage or driven aggressively at least once in the past year — a dangerous revelation. And almost as worrisome is that most respondents said they did not report the road rage that they witnessed to the police. Only about 10% said that they had reported the troubling event to the authorities, even though more than half of the survey respondents said they had witnessed some form of aggressive and potentially dangerous driving.

Road rage is often prompted when one driver forces another driver to brake, swerve, or wait. Even when there is no damage to either vehicle, these actions (or your reaction to the driver causing the problem) may be enough to send someone into a frenzy. How YOU respond can save you from a potentially dangerous situation. About 30,000 people die in car crashes each year, and aggressive driving — tailgating, swerving in and out of lanes, purposefully slowing down to hold up a driver behind you — undoubtedly contribute to these numbers. While most road rage incidents are not caused by an actual car crash, studies suggest they may end that way, or worse. 

Not all road rage incidents lead to a physical confrontation, but when they do the results can be deadly: annually about 30 murders can be attributed to road rage. It is always best — and safest! — to NOT react, even if you are feeling angry about the way another driver has behaved. If you feel that someone is being angry or aggressive behind the wheel, do your best to get out of their way and not engage. It’s also important to keep in mind that the other driver IS a person, not just a car, and they may simply be having an “off” or bad day. Their actions towards you are most likely not personal, and the more you can manage to see the situation from this perspective, the less chance there is that you’ll find yourself reacting in an angry way.  

Two Cars with Front-End Damage after Accident
Photo By Shutterstock Axel Bueckert

If you find yourself experiencing road rage, there are some things you can do to try to settle yourself down and avoid a potentially dangerous big reaction. Take some deep breaths, listen to your favorite music, or imagine that it is your loved ones that are in those other cars. Any of these practices could mean the difference between an accident or incident and simply going about your day once the wave of road-rage anger has passed. Remember, there is never anything to gain by getting worked up by the actions of other drivers!

There are also some preemptive steps you can take to make feelings of road rage pop up less frequently. If you find yourself experiencing anger on a regular basis, changes in your daily routine could make a difference. Get sufficient rest, because lack of sleep can lead to poor impulse control. Make an effort to leave earlier for your destinations so you won’t feel as rushed and stressed behind the wheel. Listen to soothing music or a calming podcast to create a peaceful vibe inside of your vehicle. You could even put a picture of your loved ones on your dashboard as a reminder of why it’s important to drive safely. You may not be able to control how others drive or behave, but you can control the way you react to difficult and frustrating situations out on the road! 

Remember, your behavior behind the wheel can cost you in more ways than one: tickets, lawyers, court costs, damage to vehicles, increased insurance rates, and even jail time. If you’ve been involved in a car accident caused by road rage — or any other reason — and would like to speak with one of our experts to determine whether you have a case, contact us today about the unique circumstances of your situation. We’re always here to help you.

Burnett & Williams Personal Injury Lawyers are experienced with all personal injuries. If you’ve been hurt in an accident and need representation or advice, call us for a free consultation, (703) 777-1650, or contact us here on the web.