How Does Road Rage Affect Driving Skills and Judgment?

Understanding the Dangers of Road Rage

how does road rage affect driving skills and judgement

Road rage is a serious concern on American roads, with significant consequences for both individual drivers and public safety. Road rage can happen to anyone, which is why it’s crucial to learn how to identify and avoid aggressive driving behaviors.

When drivers succumb to intense anger or frustration, it can lead to poor decision-making and violent behavior. If you are involved in a road rage accident caused by another driver, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced car accident attorney who will fight for fair compensation. Read on to learn how road rage can affect driving skills and judgment.


What is Road Rage?

Road rage refers to a motorist’s aggressive or violent behaviors on the road. It can manifest in various forms, ranging from verbal insults and rude gestures to more severe acts of physical violence. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), there are about 16,500 traffic crashes each day across the United States.

From 2020 to 2021, traffic accidents have jumped by 16%. In 2021, we saw the highest toll in over a decade. There were 42,939 traffic fatalities that year. Many of these fatal crashes involved intoxicated, unrestrained, and speeding drivers. About a quarter of all fatal traffic accidents in the US involved vehicles traveling above posted speed limits.

Some triggers for road rage can include traffic congestion, perceived disrespect from other drivers, or personal stressors that drivers bring with them onto the road.


Common Road Rage Behaviors

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Yelling or honking in anger
  • Cutting off other drivers
  • Aggressive lane changes
  • Trying to block other cars
  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Driving on the shoulder illegally
  • Making aggressive gestures


How Does Road Rage Differ From Reckless Driving?

Aggressive driving refers to operating a motor vehicle in a way that endangers other persons or property. It is a willful disregard for the safety of oneself and other road users. Road rage is a more severe case of reckless driving because it involves violent intent toward another road user. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s 2019 data, almost 80 percent of drivers expressed aggression or road rage at least once in the previous 30 days.

California Road Rage Laws

California Vehicle Code 13210 permits authorities to suspend a motorist’s driver’s license if they are found guilty of engaging in road rage.

If you are convicted of road rage, your driver’s license can be suspended for up to 6 months for the first offense and up to 1 year if there is a second or subsequent offense.


How Road Rage Can Affect Driving Skills and Judgment

The intense emotions associated with road rage can impair cognitive functions and lead to poor decisions and reduced situational awareness. In a heightened emotional state, a driver may be more prone to aggressive maneuvers, such as sudden acceleration, abrupt lane changes, or tailgating, all of which contribute to a higher risk of car accidents. According to a survey conducted by The Zebra, 92% of people reported seeing at least one aggressive driving incident in the past year.

When a driver perceives a threat or experiences intense anger or frustration, it signals their body to release adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones can put drivers in fight or flight mode and cause physical symptoms including the following: 

  • Increased heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Muscle tension
  • Shallow breathing
  • Clenching the jaw
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue


Common Causes of Road Rage

Identifying road rage triggers and finding constructive ways to cope with them is crucial for preventing a road rage incident. Some common causes of road rage include: 

  • Congested traffic
  • Perceived disrespect from other drivers
  • The perceived anonymity of being inside a vehicle
  • Personal stressors such as work-related issues or family problems
  • Frustration due to delays
  • Aggressive driving behaviors from others


How Road Rage Affects Your Overall Well-Being

aggressive drivers

Road rage is more than unhealthy driving behavior. Beyond the immediate dangers it poses on the road, road rage can have detrimental effects on a driver’s overall well-being. The chronic stress associated with frequent road rage incidents can have a significant impact on one’s health. Road rage can affect:

Mental and physical health – Road rage puts your body in a fight or flight response. Prolonged stress can lead to long-term issues including high blood pressure and heart problems.

Anxiety and depression – Constant anger and stressful situations can be contributing factors that lead to anxiety and depression.

Relationships – Road rage can have an impact on relationships as loved ones become concerned or affected by aggressive behaviors.


How Can I Avoid Road Rage?

Avoiding one’s own road rage requires a proactive approach to managing stress and frustration while driving. 

  • Horns are primarily designed for emergency use. It’s best to only use your horn, if necessary.
  • Don’t drive while experiencing intense emotions. In this case, it’s best to consider using a rideshare service or public transportation.
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing. Taking deep breaths can help calm intense emotions.
  • Plan routes in advance to avoid congested areas.
  • Allow for extra travel time to reduce frustration due to delays.


How to Avoid Aggressive Driving and Drivers

speed limit sign

Data compiled by the NHTSA revealed that 12,610 injuries over a 7-year period were attributed to road rage. Half of the drivers that were on the receiving end of aggressive behaviors admitted to responding with aggressive behaviors as well. Notably, 2% of drivers admitted to trying to run an aggressive driver off the road. If you come across angry drivers it’s best not to retaliate, but to do the following:

  • Maintain a safe following distance
  • Avoid aggressive gestures or confrontations with other drivers
  • Refrain from making eye contact
  • Remain calm in challenging situations
  • Focus on personal safety rather than retaliating against perceived slights
  • Drive to the nearest police station if you feel threatened by an aggressive driver

Always Drive Defensively

Defensive driving is a key component in preventing road rage incidents and promoting overall safe driving. It’s important to stay vigilant and aware of potential road hazards and be prepared to react to unexpected situations. Avoiding distractions while driving, such as using mobile phones or eating, is crucial for maintaining focus on the road.


What Should I Do if Someone Else Causes a Road Rage Accident?

motor vehicle accident

If someone causes a road rage accident, it’s best to take the following actions:

  • Pull over to a safe, well-lit location.
  • Call the police and wait for the authorities to arrive at the scene.
  • Obtain a police report.
  • Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver.
  • Take photos and videos of any visible injuries and property damage, skid marks, broken glass, and road signs.
  • Speak to witnesses and ask if they are willing to provide a statement.
  • Seek medical attention and document your injuries.
  • Consult with an experienced car accident attorney who will protect your rights and fight for fair compensation.


We Represent Car Accident Victims

If you’ve been involved in an accident with an aggressive driver, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced car accident attorney. At Alpha Accident Lawyers we are dedicated to helping personal injury victims recover the compensation they deserve for their injuries and losses.

Our award-winning personal injury firm maintains a 99% success rate and has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. We will guide you through the entire claims process and fight for maximum compensation. Call us to schedule a free consultation today.
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