Road rage. It’s a familiar feeling for anyone who’s driven a car. It’s a fear that’s re-enforced by all-too-frequent, and often frightening, headlines. Road rage instances range from annoyingly dramatic to very intense to, in scary situations, violent.

What driver hasn’t witnessed another motorist driving while distracted, dangerously tailgating, swerving through traffic at high speed, or gesturing rudely at others on the road? For that matter, what driver hasn’t felt a surge of anger after being cut off or having another car slide into the parking space they’d been patiently waiting for? What about when you are stuck in a traffic jam or behind a driver who is texting and driving?

Road Rage Drivers Using Cell Phone Stastistics

Road rage and aggressive driving—the two terms are often used interchangeably, though both exist along a spectrum of bad behavior—are not rare events. In fact, per 2020 AAA research published by Bankrate, “Over 80% of U.S. drivers have engaged in aggressive driving behaviors like running red lights or flipping off another driver, but these habits don’t always escalate to road rage.”

AAA also researched the likelihood of aggressive driving in the United States found the below:


of U.S. drivers are likely to aggressively switch lanes while close to another car

Estimated total number of drivers: 57 million


of U.S. drivers are likely to run a red light

Estimated total number of drivers: 68 million


of U.S. drivers are likely to honk or make rude gestures

Estimated total number of drivers: 71 million


of U.S. drivers are likely to tailgate to prevent another car from merging in front of you

Estimated total number of drivers: 74 million


of U.S. drivers are likely to drive 15 mph or more over the highway speed limit

Estimated total number of drivers: 106 million

Scary, right?

Thankfully, many states have been enacting laws for hundreds of years to help make the roads a safer place, and still are to this day. Just this past June, Utah became the first state to launch a Road Rage Enhancement Law, “representing a significant stride in addressing the escalating problem of aggressive driving behaviors.

Road Rage The Evolution of US Driving Laws

So, what can you do to avoid angry drivers, manage your own traffic-induced frustration, and generally stay safe on the road? Here are some basics on how to identify and deal with aggressive driving.

Defining Road Rage and Identifying Aggressive Driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” Road rage, according to the NHTSA, emerged as a label to “describe the angry and violent behaviors at the extreme of the aggressive driving continuum.”

Behaviors that can be classified as aggressive driving and/or road rage include:

  • Yelling, honking, gesturing at other motorists
  • Blocking other drivers from changing lanes
  • Intentionally tailgating or cutting others off
  • Chasing or challenging other drivers
  • Getting out of the car to accost another person or vehicle
  • Using a vehicle to purposefully ram other cars

Handling Aggressive Drivers

If another driver is behaving aggressively or erratically:

  • Do whatever is appropriate, legal and safe in the circumstances to put as much distance between your vehicle and theirs as possible.
  • Avoid becoming embroiled in a confrontation.
  • Stay calm if they insult you or try to initiate a race or a fight.
  • Let the other driver pass.
  • Resist the temptation to punish someone’s bad behavior or to retaliate yourself.
  • Call the police if the aggressive driver is threatening others, appears likely to cause an accident or is otherwise acting in a truly frightening manner. If the aggressive driver is just being a run-of-the-mill brat, try to ignore them and focus on something more positive instead (more tips on how to do this below!).
Road Rage Solutions Identify Aggressive Drivers

Ask Yourself: Are You an Aggressive Driver?

Being self-aware on the road is a hard but necessary first step to ensure your safety and the safety of everyone around you. Make an effort to observe your feelings and behaviors when you’re behind the wheel, and try speaking with family members who frequently ride with you and have the chance to watch how you act in the driver’s seat. If you or your passengers notice that you often express anger or impatience, or that you seek confrontations with other drivers, that’s a good indication that something is wrong.

Here’s the thing: Feeling outraged toward a driver behaving badly (endangering pedestrians, say) is totally normal. But frequently expressing anger—at other drivers, stop lights or the wait time at the drive-through, for example—and lashing out at or challenging other drivers is an extreme reaction and can have deadly consequences.

Managing Your Own Road Rage

Road Rage Solutions Manage Your Emotions

If you have a tendency to drive aggressively or become enraged on the road:

  • Try not to get behind the wheel when you’re likely to be provoked. Take public transportation during rush hour, let someone else drive, or simply postpone your trip when you’re in a bad mood.
  • While driving, try listening to calming music or interesting audio-books.
  • When you see another driver doing something aggravating, focus on breathing deeply and remind yourself that your safety is more important than getting back at some impolite (and possibly dangerous) stranger.
  • Ultimately, consider getting help. Aggressive driving is extremely common (remember that 80% statistic?) and there are plenty of resources available to those who need help. Look into anger management classes or therapy, and research other steps you can take to reduce anger and stress in all areas of your life. For example, cognitive-relaxation techniques have been shown to reduce rage in “high-anger drivers.”

Creating a More Peaceful Driving Experience

Road Rage Solutions Obey The Laws

It’s not your fault that some drivers act like the rules don’t apply to them. However, you can create a more enjoyable driving experience and avoid unintentionally angering an aggressive driver by improving your own driving skills (which will also help you avoid common auto claims).

Road rules and general tips that can make any drive go more smoothly are:

  • Know and follow the traffic laws in the jurisdiction where you’re driving.
  • Make sure to use your turn signals appropriately.
  • Avoid blocking other drivers or pedestrians.
  • Come to a complete stop at stop signs.
  • Stay within the speed limit.
  • Be aware and considerate of others on the road, always. (Including parking lots!)
  • Leave yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going and always use your GPS, even if you know where you are going, to help avoid traffic and congestion. Every situation is more stressful when you’re either late, lost or both.
  • Drive at less congested times and take back roads instead of busy highways, if possible. This won’t insulate you from rude or reckless drivers, but it can improve your driving experience and cut down on time you spend stuck in traffic.

Here’s the thing: You can’t control others, but you can control how you react to them. Try to maintain a positive frame of mind. If something angers you, let it go. Don’t waste time obsessing over entitled or inconsiderate motorists.

Stop the Cycle

Although aggressive driving is a common occurrence, and a serious issue, it’s not an inevitable part of every drive. It all starts with your mindset.

If you are teaching a new driver in your household the rules of the road, be sure to include tips on how to avoid road rage and what to do when they see it from other drivers to stop the cycle.

So, the next time someone tells you to “drive safely,” think “drive calmly.”

Take the Pledge

Download and print your certificate today and promise to drive distracted free, and yes, that includes keeping your emotions in check. Together we can make the roads a safer place to drive.

Share about your experiences and how you handle and/or avoid road rage in the comments below!