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The Road Rage Epidemic

Road rage, or road violence, is defined as driving dangerously in a deliberate way or exhibiting violent behavior while under the influence of extreme anger when an automobile is involved in some way or another. The vehicle can be used in anger to hit or ram a person or another vehicle, or the violence can be displayed after the driver or drivers have come to a stop and have exited their vehicles. Road rage can consist of throwing things or firing a weapon out of a vehicle’s window as well, and this can happen while the vehicle is stopped or moving. Even yelling insults, while in or out of moving or stopped vehicles, is considered road rage even though no physical violence has taken place. Road rage is a rapidly growing epidemic in the United States and around the world and it’s one that can be stopped with knowledge about the causes and ways of preventing it so that instances of it arise less frequently.

There are three main causes of road rage. The biggest factors are the environmental causes. Drivers can get frustrated or upset easily, especially at other drivers, when there is traffic congestion, construction detours, or even just too much noise inside the vehicle. Intrusive road rage is also known as ‘retaliation’ road rage, where an act of road rage is responded to with an even more aggressive act of road rage. This cycle can continue until the aggressiveness gets out of control and something devastating happens. With territorial road rage, most drivers are only trying to get someone to stop tailgating them by brake-checking or to get into their own driving lane by driving too close. This, in essence, is a more defined version of intrusive road rage. While a large percentage of people who already have anger issues suffer from road rage, most people will experience road rage at least once in their lives while not having an anger issue. This can be caused by a lack of sleep the night before or by having music playing in the car that has angry undertones. Even the slightest bit of alcohol in a person’s system can cause road rage, not to mention impaired driving.

Laws to help deter road rage are now in place in most states. These laws include those that fine for tailgating, speeding, or general aggressive driving. For multiple offenses, jail time or a suspended license are possible, as are community service or a permanently lost license. In Washington state, unmarked police cars with video cameras are used to monitor the roadways for aggressive drivers, while in Michigan you can report aggressive drivers online so that law enforcement knows where to increase their presence for stricter enforcement of aggressive driving laws. California encourages drivers to report aggressive drivers, even friends or family, so that accidents can be avoided, and lives can potentially be saved. No matter what state you are in, it’s important to remember that even though laws may be in place and you may be willing to live with those consequences if caught, you may end up causing an accident in which someone gets hurt or killed, and you may not be as willing to live with those consequences.

Road rage has been a part of driving since the days of horse and carriage, but only in the last few decades has the number of incidents climbed dramatically. In 2003 near New Orleans, a man who was getting ready to take his young boy to school yelled at a motorist who was driving too fast was shot and killed by the other driver. His young boy was injured in the gunfire. And in early December of 2011, an 85-year-old man was hit in the face by a younger man after an incident of road rage near Boston. But road rage is not limited only to the US. It is a growing danger on the roads of South Africa where more than 60% of taxi drivers admit to ignoring road rules due to impatience or other driver’s road rage. This problem is something everyone needs to be aware of and be able to recognize in order to help prevent future incidents.

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