What Is Road Rage, and How Does It Lead to Accidents?

What Is Road Rage?Many people have either encountered a driver with road rage, or have exhibited road rage at some point in their lives. This frequently happens when drivers become impatient, frustrated, and irritated on the roadways, especially when there is traffic or unexpected delays along the way.

However, any type of road rage behavior can lead to severe and deadly car accidents that could have been prevented if the angry driver had simply remained calm and collected.

What is road rage?

Progressive defines road rage as “violent or uncontrolled anger in response to driving-related behavior.” This type of behavior plays a significant role in many fatalities that occur on the roads in Maryland and the rest of the country.

What are examples of road rage?

Some people think of road rage as a form of aggressive behavior. However, road rage surpasses aggressive driving as it is typically destructive, dangerous, and violent. Examples include:

  • Tailgating or driving too close to another vehicle
  • Bumping or sideswiping another vehicle
  • Shouting or cursing at another driver
  • Making threats or using gestures to get your point across
  • Excessively beeping the horn or flashing lights at another vehicle
  • Trying to intimidate or scare another driver
  • Cutting off or slamming on brakes in front of another vehicle
  • Chasing another driver or running them off the roadway
  • Pointing a gun or weapon at another driver

As you can see, road rage can turn dangerous fast. What makes this type of behavior even worse is that many people may not realize how terrible their behavior is and what the consequences may be until someone becomes injured or killed. One 2021 study posited that road rage may actually stem from an emotional feedback loop:

According to the process model of emotion regulation (Gross, 2015), emotions are generated through a series of iterative cycles comprising four aspects or stages: (a) a situation; (b) attention that determines how the situation is perceived; (c) an appraisal (resulting from a comparison between a goal set and a situation construal); and (d) a response including subjective experience, physiology, and/or overt behavior Road rage generation may include one or several iterations of this feedback loop.

In short, angry drivers keep looking for reasons to stay angry, and may not even realize they’re doing it.

For example, if a driver is running late to work and a motorcyclist gets in their way, the driver may become annoyed with the motorcyclist. While the motorcyclist may be driving within the speed limit and enjoying a nice ride, the individual running late may feel like the motorcyclist got in front of them on purpose. This can cause the automobile driver to become angrier and aggrieved, as they need to make it to their location on time, but blame the motorcycle operator for their failure to do so.

As a result, the driver may begin to honk the horn, flash the lights, yell curse words out the window, and even nudge the back of the bike with the vehicle. This can cause a motorcycle rider to lose his or her balance and fall; if the driver actively bumps the motorcyclist, that operator is even more likely to crash.

How does road rage cause accidents?

Road rage causes accidents because drivers aren’t acting rationally, which makes them unpredictable. There are many dangers of this type of behavior, which include:

  • Taking your attention off the road
  • Making impulsive decisions
  • Failing to recognize warning signs of upcoming turns, changes in speed limit, or pedestrian zones
  • Increasing the risk of hitting multiple vehicles

When a person has road rage, their feelings are at the forefront, which means they are not thinking rationally and/or having a rational reaction to what is happening. Most drivers who act in this manner and harm other individuals end up regretting it, but by then, it is too late.

How can road rage be prevented?

Driving is not always an easy task. Situations can emerge at any moment during your commute or travels, creating a stressful and frustrating environment. You can’t always control the actions of others, but here are three ways you may be able to prevent your own rage from taking over :

  1. Make sure you have plenty of time to get to your destination: Running late is one of the three most common causes of road rage, per the 2021 study (being put at risk and discourtesy or hostility of other drivers were the other two). If this is one of your driving “triggers,”, you should start giving yourself more time to drive to your destination. Keep in mind any delays, accidents, or weather conditions that could delay your commute.
  2. Do not drive when you are angry or upset: If you just received a phone call with bad news or got into a disagreement with a coworker, take some time to cool off before getting into your vehicle. This might require taking a walk, grabbing a snack, or venting to a friend. However, the last thing you want to do is drive while angry or upset, causing you to act irrationally behind the wheel.
  3. Imagine the person behind the wheel is someone you love: It can be hard to put yourself in another person’s shoes (or driver’s seat) when you’re angry. So if you cannot find empathy for a stranger, try pretending they’re someone else. If that other driver were your spouse, your child, your parent or your best friend – would you still be so angry? Would you want some stranger bumping their car or cutting them off in traffic only to jam the brakes? It might be easier to find empathy for your teen daughter or your elderly father than it is for someone you don’t know.

How can you protect yourself in road rage?

If you encounter a driver with road rage, it is critical that you try to protect yourself. This means that you should not yell or curse back at the driver, speed up, or act in retaliation. Instead, you should assume that the worst could happen and get yourself out of the situation as soon as possible. These are a few ways you can protect yourself during a road rage incident:

  • Allow the driver to go around or pass you
  • Ignore and avoid eye contact
  • Immediately give the driver space
  • Take the next exit and go a different route to your destination
  • Call 9-1-1 or drive directly to the police station

Sharing the roads with other drivers is an essential part of driving. If you suffer injuries from a recent road rage accident and need legal assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out to the Maryland car accident lawyers from Plaxen Adler Muncy right away. Call our office or submit our contact form to get started with a free consultation today. Our firm has multiple offices across Maryland for your convenience.

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