Common Road Rage Behaviors: Identifying & Avoiding Aggressive DrivingUpdated Sept. 23, 2020
Aggressive drivers are incredibly dangerous to all those around them. While scanning the roadway for potential threats, you must watch out for any motorists displaying aggressive behavior. If you encounter a driver experiencing road rage, it is likely that they are the most dangerous hazard in the roadway environment. You must pay attention and act defensively, to protect yourself against the threat such drivers pose.
So, what separates drivers experiencing road rage from run-of-the-mill bad drivers? If you witness a driver committing two or more moving traffic violations which substantially increase the chances of a collision occurring OR a single, severe violation which demands immediate evasive action from another motorist, it is likely that they are suffering with road rage. Less drastic violations of traffic law may simply imply that the offending driver has made a mistake. Careless drivers are generally less dangerous than very aggressive drivers, however, they still pose a threat and should be avoided if possible.
Spotting road rage behaviors
The below list contains some of the most common road rage-induced traffic violations. Watch out for other drivers engaging in these behaviors while you’re out and about. If their violation seems deliberate, is particularly harmful or is accompanied by other violations, they are probably experiencing road rage.
Speeding. This is one of the most common responses to road rage. It is an even clearer indicator if the speeding driver is moving among much slower traffic.
Weaving or frequently changing lanes. This indicates a reckless disregard for the safety and convenience of other road users. Generally, drivers who weave across multiple lanes are either drunk or experiencing road rage.
Failing to signal. This may just be a dangerous oversight or a malfunctioning signal light. When accompanied by one or more of the other violations on this list, failing to signal probably indicates road rage.
Tailgating. A driver who is tailgating aggressively will often be extremely close to the vehicle they are following, will tailgate multiple vehicles in succession or may sound their horn at the same time.
Blocking other vehicles. Road raged drivers may deliberately cut in front of other motorists who they feel have wronged them or block them inadvertently by forcing a lane change or merge.
Excessive use of the horn. Prolonged or repetitive blasts on the horn is a common road rage response. If there are no obvious hazards nearby which would warrant use of the horn, it is likely the offending driver is using it in anger rather than from necessity.
Disregarding traffic control devices. A road raged driver may ignore multiple road signs, traffic lights and lane markings in a short space of time. Failing to obey a single, less obvious road sign may simply indicate distraction or poor attentiveness.
Making sudden maneuvers. Aggressive drivers often speed up or slow down suddenly and without warning. They may also execute illegal turns.
Ignoring right-of-way rules
Drivers who are experiencing road rage can usually be identified by their complete disregard for right-of-way rules. In an enraged state, a person cannot consider the consequences of their actions. While driving, this may manifest itself as:
- Running a stop sign
- Driving through a red light
- Entering an intersection already occupied by other road users
- Driving over a pedestrian crosswalk that is in use
- Merging onto a new road with no regard for existing traffic
This type of behavior risks severe penalties, property damage, injury and death for the offending driver and all other road users nearby. Frighteningly, a driver who is experiencing full-blown road rage does not care about these risks. Extremely aggressive drivers often force right-of-way over pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users, as these people will come off worse in a collision and are more likely to get out of the way.
Harassing other drivers
It is quite common for someone experiencing extreme anger to direct their rage at another person. Usually, this is a person they feel has wronged them in some way or is “to blame” for the incident which made them angry in the first place. This phenomenon often leads enraged drivers to target another motorist for harassment. You may witness an aggressive driver:
- Tailgating another driver. This may also be accompanied by other intimidating behavior like engine revving.
- Staring at another motorist in a hostile or aggressive way, often for a prolonged period.
- Shouting, gesturing and swearing at other motorists. If stopped, they may get out and approach their target vehicle while doing this.
- Forcing another driver to stop suddenly by pulling in front of them and applying the brakes. This is referred to as “brake checking”.
- Targeting another driver with physical violence which may include ramming with their car, punching, hitting or shoving, use of a weapon or throwing objects.
Don’t be a hero
As awful as it is to witness an angry motorist targeting another person, or two angry motorists attacking each other – do not get involved. An important thing to note about road rage, is that the drivers who experience it are generally not picky with their targets. You may be tempted to intervene if you witness a road rage incident, but keep in mind that doing so will probably lead the enraged driver to turn their aggression toward you. Well-meaning bystanders are often injured or killed when serious cases of road rage get out of hand.
When faced with a road rage incident, the best thing you can do is call the police and advise them of the situation. This will be more effective and should keep you out of harm’s way. Remember not to panic and make sure you find a safe place to pull over before making the call. Only when a person’s physical safety is in immediate danger and you cannot pull over should you risk making a call behind the wheel.
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