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Many joke about having road rage. But it’s no laughing matter. There’s also a bit more to it than cursing at someone who cuts us off while driving or slamming our hand on the wheel. But what exactly is classified as road rage, and more importantly, how do you prevent it?

What is true road rage?

A person imitating road rage, however, it is important to prevent road rage.
Person imitating road rage | Getty Images

Access Auto Insurance states, “Road rage typically involves a deliberate and purposeful act designed to cause harm to another driver.” This is typically the result of multiple stressors compared to a single event triggering the rage. Stressors can include relationship issues, work-related problems, or financial issues. These chronic stressors can lead to a form of more aggressive driving, which turns into road rage when escalated.

In other words, you’re having a bad day, someone does something stupid with their car, and now you’re going to teach them a lesson by taking your stressors out on them. It’s far too common, but there are a few ways to combat this if you think you suffer from true road rage.

Leave with plenty of time to prevent road rage

Being late can be stressful enough, but it’s even worse if it’s for something important such as a big job interview, an important appointment, or a date you want to impress.

Leaving a few minutes early will help relieve some of the anxiety you feel, as well as help you arrive even if something unexpected happens, such as a traffic jam. 

Lay off the horn

It’s easy to slam your hand down on the horn at the slightest action. Automakers design it to be easy to access, after all, and everyone knows they’re in big trouble when they hear that annoying blast fill the air. 

However, this can come off as aggressive and isn’t necessary all the time. You should reserve using your horn for what it’s designed for, such as warning pedestrians crossing the road to pay attention or other warnings of danger. 

Don’t tailgate

There are few things in life more annoying than someone tailgating you. This may be why some drivers with road rage use it to emphasize that the driver in front of them isn’t moving fast enough.

However, this can have the opposite effect and may lead to someone going even slower in an effort to show you who is in control. It can also lead you to rear-ending them, and no amount of wailing about how they weren’t going fast enough will convince an officer that you aren’t the responsible party.

Put yourself in other people’s shoes

We never know what others are going through, even those closest to us. This makes it almost impossible to know what the person in the surrounding cars is going through. In spite of this, empathy can go a long way toward keeping your road rage under control.

Don’t use threatening hand gestures

While many of us immediately think of using the middle finger, there are other threatening hand gestures that may get you in trouble. These can include gang signs or simply shaking your fist at someone as you pass them by. Even if you don’t have road rage, this can be enough to set off someone who does.

Never confront another driver

If you step out of your vehicle or roll down the window to give another driver a piece of your mind, then you’re only escalating the situation. The only thing worse than having road rage is confronting someone else who has it even worse than you do.

Road rage can have serious consequences

You may be having a bad day, but that will not fly in court if you’re convicted of road rage. You can face heavy fines, jail time, or even be slapped with a felony charge. In some dire situations, people have even died due to road rage. 

If you know you have road rage, it’s better to admit to it and take action to prevent it. If all else fails, pull over and calm down before you finish traveling to your destination. It can save you years of grief.


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