Drivers can take steps to reduce stress while behind the wheel and recognize behaviors that may contribute to road rage.
Aggravation on the nation’s roadways has become a frequent topic of conversation over the last decade or so. Incidents that involved traffic-related acts of violence have gained increased attention over that span.
The automotive group AAA estimates that nearly eight out of 10 drivers demonstrate aggressive driving behaviors. While data indicating the number of road rage cases per state is not available, The Trace’s study on road rage with a firearm found 522 people were shot in 2021 due to road rage, and that Texas, Florida and California have the most road rage incidents involving guns.
Road rage is the extreme outcome of impatience or frustration behind the wheel. Many times this frustration stems from traffic-related stress. There are more cars on the road than ever before, which can intensify stressful traffic conditions. Drivers can take steps to reduce stress while behind the wheel and recognize behaviors that may contribute to road rage.
• Don’t rush. Leave plenty time to get to a destination. You are less likely to be impatient and react to traffic stressors if you are racing the clock.
• Calm down. If there is something that has angered or upset you, take time to calm down before getting behind the wheel.
• Be patient. Recognize that someone driving slowly may be lost or aging with diminished abilities.
• Keep a safe distance. Tailgating can create animosity among drivers. By leaving room, you can avoid aggressive interactions between drivers that can contribute to frustration.
• Don’t honk unnecessarily. Honking out of frustration is unproductive and also may exacerbate your levels of stress and anger other drivers.
• Take an alternative route. If you know that certain roadways are plagued by traffic, then figure out a route to avoid the traffic, even if it may be longer.
• Change your schedule. It’s not called “rush hour” for nothing. Certain times of the day feature busier roadways than others. If possible, alter your schedule so that you commute during off-peak hours.
• Share the driving. Split driving duties with others, particularly when feeling stressed out. Breaking up particularly long trips among a few drivers can relieve anxiety.
Driving can be stressful, but there are various ways to mitigate feelings that may escalate into anger and road rage.