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Road rage (USA)

By: Jason Vest, Warren Cohen, Mike Tharp

Date: Tuesday, 05. December 2006

USnews logoCopyright U.S. News and World Report
Reproduced with permission of U.S. News and Views

Tailgating, giving the finger, outright violence--Americans grow more likely to take out their frustrations on other drivers.

Road rage Some of the incidents are so ludicrous you can't help but laugh--albeit nervously. There was the case in Salt Lake City, where 75-year-old J. C. King--peeved that 41-year-old Larry Remm Jr. honked at him for blocking traffic--followed Remm when he pulled off the road, hurled his prescription bottle at him, and then, in a display of geriatric resolve, smashed Remm's knees with his '92 Mercury. In tony Potomac, Md., Robin Ficker--an attorney and ex-state legislator--knocked the glasses off a pregnant woman after she had the temerity to ask him why he bumped her Jeep with his.

Other incidents lack even the element of macabre humor. Last year, on Virginia's George Washington Parkway, a dispute over a lane change was settled with a high-speed duel that ended when both drivers lost control and crossed the center line, killing two innocent motorists.

Anyone who spent the Memorial Day weekend on the road probably won't be too surprised to learn the results of a major study to be released this week by the American Automobile Association: The rate of "aggressive driving" incidents--defined as events in which an angry or impatient driver tries to kill or injure another driver after a traffic dispute--has risen by 51 percent since 1990. In those cases studied, 37 percent of offenders used firearms against other drivers, an additional 28 percent used other weapons, and 35 percent used their cars.

Fear of (and participation in) aggressive driving has grown so much that in a poll last year residents of Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia listed it as a bigger concern than drunk driving. The Maryland highway department is running a campaign called "The End of the Road for Aggressive Drivers," which, among other things, flashes anti-road-rage messages on electronic billboards on the interstates. Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey have initiated special highway patrols targeting aggressive drivers. A small but busy community of therapists and scholars has arisen to study the phenomenon and counsel drivers on how to cope. And several members of Congress are now trying to figure out ways to legislate away road rage.

Lest one get unduly alarmed, it helps to put the AAA study's numbers in context: Approximately 250,000 people have been killed in traffic since 1990. While the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that two thirds of fatalities are at least partially caused by aggressive driving, the AAA study found only 218 that could be directly attributable to enraged drivers. Of the more than 20 million motorists injured, the survey identified 12,610 injuries attributable to aggressive driving. While the study is the first American attempt to quantify aggressive driving, it is not rigorously scientific. The authors drew on reports from 30 newspapers--supplemented by insurance claims and police reports from 16 cities--involving 10,037 occurrences. Moreover, the overall trendlines for car accidents have continued downward for several decades, thanks in part to increases in the drinking age and improvements in car technology like high-mounted brake lights.

But researchers believe there is a growing trend of simple aggressive behavior--road rage--in which a driver reacts angrily to other drivers. Cutting them off, tailgating, giving the finger, waving a fist--experts believe these forms of nonviolent fury are increasing. "Aggressive driving is now the most common way of driving," says Sandra Ball-Rokeach, who codirects the Media and Injury Prevention Program at the University of Southern California. "It's not just a few crazies--it's a subculture of driving."

In focus groups set up by her organization, two thirds of drivers said they reacted to frustrating situations aggressively. Almost half admitted to deliberately braking suddenly, pulling close to the other car, or taking some other potentially dangerous step. Another third said they retaliated with a hostile gesture. Drivers show great creativity in devising hostile responses. Doug Erber of Los Angeles keeps his windshield-wiper-fluid tank full. If someone tailgates, he turns on the wipers, sending fluid over his roof onto the car behind him. "It works better than hitting the brakes," he says, "and you can act totally innocent."

Mad Max. While the AAA authors note there is a profile of the lethally inclined aggressive driver--"relatively young, poorly educated males who have criminal records, histories of violence, and drug or alcohol problems"--road-rage scholars (and regular drivers) believe other groups are equally represented in the less violent forms of aggressive driving. To some, it's tempting to look at this as a psychologically mysterious Jekyll-and-Hyde phenomenon; for others, it's simply attributable to "jerk drivers." In reality, there's a confluence of emotional and demographic factors that changes the average citizen from mere motorist to Mad Max.

First, it isn't just your imagination that traffic is getting worse. Since 1987, the number of miles of roads has increased just 1 percent while the miles driven have shot up by 35 percent. According to a recent Federal Highway Administration study of 50 metropolitan areas, almost 70 percent of urban freeways today--as opposed to 55 percent in 1983--are clogged during rush hour. The study notes that congestion is likely to spread to currently unspoiled locations. Forty percent of the currently gridlock-free Milwaukee County highway system, for example, is predicted to be jammed up more than five hours a day by the year 2000. A study by the Texas Transportation Institute last year found that commuters in one third of the largest cities spent well over 40 hours a year in traffic jams.

Part of the problem is that jobs have shifted from cities to suburbs. Communities designed as residential suburbs with narrow roads have grown into "edge cities," with bustling commercial traffic. Suburb-to-suburb commutes now account for 44 percent of all metropolitan traffic versus 20 percent for suburb-to-downtown travel. Demographer and Edge City author Joel Garreau says workers breaking for lunch are essentially causing a third rush hour. He notes that in Tysons Corner, Va., it takes an average of four traffic signal cycles to get through a typical intersection at lunchtime. And because most mass transit systems are of a spoke-and-hub design, centering on cities and branching out to suburbs, they're not really useful in getting from point A to point B in an edge city or from one edge city to another. Not surprisingly, fewer people are relying on mass transit and more on cars. In 1969, 82.7 percent drove to work; in 1990, 91.4 percent did. Despite the fact that the Washington, D.C., area has an exemplary commuter subway system, it accounts for only 2 percent of all trips made.

Demographic changes have helped put more drivers on the road. Until the 1970s, the percentage of women driving was relatively low, and many families had only one car. But women entered the work force and bought cars, something developers and highway planners hadn't foreseen. From 1969 to 1990 the number of women licensed to drive increased 84 percent. Between 1970 and 1987, the number of cars on the road more than doubled. In the past decade, the number of cars grew faster (17 percent) than the number of people (10 percent). Even carpooling is down despite HOV lanes and other preferential devices. The cumulative effect, says University of Hawaii traffic psychology professor Leon James, is a sort of sensory overload. "There are simply more cars--and more behaviors--to deal with," says James.

As if the United States couldn't produce enough home-grown lousy drivers, it seems to be importing them as well. Experts believe that many immigrants come from countries that have bad roads and aggressive styles. It's not just drivers from Third World countries, though. British drivers are considered among the safest in Europe, yet recent surveys show that nearly 90 percent of British motorists have experienced threats or abuse from other drivers. Of Brits who drive for a living, about 21 percent report having been run off the road. In Australia, one study estimates that about half of all traffic accidents there may be due to road rage. "There are different cultures of driving all over the world--quite clearly, if we mix new cultures in the melting pot, what we get is a culture clash on the roadway," says John Palmer, a professor in the Health Education and Safety Department at Minnesota's St. Cloud State University.

The peak moment for aggressive driving comes not during impenetrable gridlock but just before, when traffic density is high but cars are still moving briskly. That's when cutting someone off or forcing someone out of a lane can make the difference (or so it seems) between being on time and being late, according to Palmer.

Unfortunately, roads are getting more congested just as Americans feel even more pressed for time. "People get on a time line for their car trips," says Palmer. "When they perceive that someone is impeding their progress or invading their agenda, they respond with what they consider to be 'instructive' behavior, which might be as simple as flashing their lights to something more combative."

Suburban assault vehicles. This, uh, "instruction" has become more common, Palmer and others speculate, in part because of modern automotive design. With hyperadjustable seats, soundproof interiors, CD players, and cellular phones, cars are virtually comfortable enough to live in. Students of traffic can't help but wonder if the popularity of pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles has contributed to the problem. Sales have approximately doubled since 1990. These big metal shells loom over everything else, fueling feelings of power and drawing out a driver's more primal instincts. "A lot of the anecdotal evidence about aggressive driving incidents tends to involve people driving sport utility vehicles," says Julie Rochman of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "When people get these larger, heavier vehicles, they feel more invulnerable." While Chrysler spokesman Chris Preuss discounts the notion of suburban assault vehicles being behind the aggressive-driving phenomenon, he does say women feel more secure in the jumbo-size vehicles.

In much of life, people feel they don't have full control of their destiny. But a car--unlike, say, a career or a spouse--responds reliably to one's wish. In automobiles, we have an increased (but false) sense of invincibility. Other drivers become dehumanized, mere appendages to a competing machine. "You have the illusion you're alone and master, dislocated from other drivers," says Hawaii's James.

Los Angeles psychologist Arnold Nerenberg describes how one of his recent patients got into an angry road confrontation with another motorist. "They pulled off the road and started running toward each other to fight, but then they recognized each other as neighbors," he says. "When it's just somebody else in a car, it's more two-dimensional; the other person's identity boils down to, 'You're someone who did something bad to me.' "

How can aggressive driving be minimized? Some believe that better driver's education might help. Driver's ed was a high school staple by the 1950s, thanks to federal highway dollars given to states. But a 1978 government study in De Kalb County, Ga., found no reduction in crashes or traffic violations by students who took a driver's ed course compared with those who didn't. Rather than use these results to design better driver's ed programs, the feds essentially gave up on them and diverted money to seat belt and anti-drunk-driving programs. Today, only 40 percent of new drivers complete a formal training course, which may be one reason 20 percent to 35 percent of applicants fail their initial driving test.

The inner driver. But governments are looking anew at the value of driver's education. In April, Michigan passed sweeping rules that grant levels of privilege depending on one's age and driving record. States with similar systems, like California, Maryland, and Oregon, have seen teen accident rates drop.

Those who lose their licenses often have to return to traffic school. But some states have generous standards for these schools. To wit: California's theme schools. There, errant drivers can attend the "Humor's My Name, Traffic's My Game," school, in which a mock jury led by a stand-up comic decides who the worst drivers are; the "Traffic School for Chocoholics," which plies errant drivers with chocolate and ice cream; and the gay and lesbian "Pink Triangle Traffic School."

But the real key to reducing road rage probably lies deep within each of us. Professor James of the University of Hawaii suggests that instead of emphasizing defensive driving--which implies that the other driver is the enemy--we should focus on "supportive driving" or "driving with the aloha spirit." Of course that's hard to do if a) someone has just cut you off at 60 mph or b) you live in Los Angeles instead of Hawaii. Nerenberg, the Los Angeles psychologist, has published an 18-page booklet called "Overcoming Road Rage: The 10-Step Compassion Program." He recommends examining what sets off road rage and to "visualize overcoming it." Other tips: Imagine you might be seeing that person at a party soon. And remember that other drivers "are people with feelings. Let us not humiliate them with our aggression." In the chapter titled, "Peace," he suggests, "Take a deep breath and just let it go." And if that doesn't work, the windshield-wiper trick is pretty clever.

With Anna Mulrine, Mary Lord, Brendan I. Koerner, Barbra Murray, and Steven D. Kaye

Read more articles about road rage and aggressive driving.

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All Comments (73)

Showing 1 - 73 comments


With increasing population this behavior will only get worse.


If people would realize that driving is more than starting the engine and managing to keep their vehicle between the lines, we'd all be better off. Whatever happened to slower drivers not being self appointed speed monitors and moving over to the right-hand lanes? If you don't know where you are going get a map, or GPS and get to the right. Green means go, red means stop, try to keep that straight. It is possible to turn and move at the same time, no need to stop. The driveway won't move. Learn to properly adjust your mirrors. If you do so you won't have 'blind spots'. I would be willing to bet 95% of drivers have no idea how to do so.


Found an idiot on TX hwy 46 Saturday, came up behind the ford edge and was no closer to it than the edge was to vehicle in front of him and we were all going about 10 to 15 miles under the speed limit on a 2 lane hwy, when all of a sudden the guy in the ford edge stopped in the middle of the 2 lane hwy got out of his car and approached the car behind him and started yelling and screaming at the driver of that car. WHAT a STUPID thing to do endangering everyone on that hwy. He had already prevented anyone from getting around a much slower car in a passing lane by going aorund the car and then putting his brakes on to prevent anyone else from passing the slower car.


I called MD State Police to assist me during a road rage incident...the officer wouldn't help me especially after giving him tag number of the man who has a state issued FD Tag #.
Called officer once check if he did anything to find the man...he then looked up the tag #, contacted the man, then gave the phyco my personal information!!!!!!! Thank you Office Knight!


I agree, but it is very very sad..., loving others is a unworldly task and very hard to be done than said...


Try riding a motorcyle on the freeway these days as I do... It's like I'm an extra-point target (a rager magnet). I get lit cigarettes thrown at me, run off the road and verbally abused just for being on the road - this is a daily occurrence. I follow all the rules and act courteous to other drivers, but this doesn't matter... The ragers attack. I think poor behaviour these days goes beyond getting behind the wheel. Society is truely in decline...manners and repect for others' is truely a thing of the past. All any decent human-being can do is hold on and not let it change you into the asshats being expressed in this blog - God help us all!


My husband about 5 minutes ago experienced some idiot trying to run him off the road,,the state police didn't answer at all. Once he got home I called again, and got someone who acted as if I was the person running him off the road. She then correcxted herself and said there is no place to report this Pennsylvania driver,,except going to the Magistrate..Likely anything will happen there..We have the tag# and type of car.Does this web site Report work!!


Forgot to mention that the car was white Oldsmobile (see links to pics).


The driver was swearing, using horn excessively, made hand gestures and threatened to kill me.

I was about to drop off mail at US post office. There was no parking available, so I've decided to park in no parking zone for the 2 minutes that it would take me to drop off mail in the mail box. As soon as I've turned off ignition, I heard loud car horns from behind and realized that it was directed towards me. It shook me up a bit, not a pleasant experience, but I decided to let the driver know that I'll be parked there for literally 2 minutes. I got out of my car and approached the car behind me. The driver rolled down the window and started swearing at me, with terrifying hatred in his look. My jaw dropped and I could not make a sound. I've politely asked him to go around my car, like everyone else did. That only got him even more hyper and violent. I turned around and started walking towards my car. I had a terrified feeling that this won't end well, so I decided to take a picture of his car and its license plate (see and I then got in the car and drove it off to find another parking spot. I was so shooked up, my hands were trembling uncontrollably.
When I walked in the post office, I've encountered that man again. This time I decided to not show my anxiousness, and told him - "Sir, please watch watch your mouth when talking to strangers". In response, I received - "I would KILL YOU if it wasn't for the standbyers", and walked out of the post office. After that incident, I could not write an address on my mailing slip, since my hands were shaking out of control.
This was one of the worst road rage experiences I've ever had. I wish I knew what to do to bring this person to justice, to stop spreading his rage.

Incident Details:
Location: 5706 17th Avenue Northwest, Seattle, WA 98107-5240
Time: May 28, 2011 @ 12:53pm

Driver Description:
Height: 5'11", Hair: bold, Age: 65-75, Car License Plates: 449XXP


I actually agree with NJ>NY, up to the point that he follows a woman home, although I understand that. Most of you people complaining here should take a look at your driving habits and consider the possibility that something you did caused that other person to become that angry. Did you have your cell phone to your ear when or just before that other person became so agressive? What lane were you in and how slow were you traveling?
What it all boils down to is that there is a lack of consideration for other drivers these days. Its fine if you want to drive the speed limit or 5-10 under, just dont do it in the left lane. If you are on the freeway and you are being passed on your right side, you are in THE WRONG LANE! If I want to do 80 or just 5 over, thats between me and maybe the police. If EVERYBODY is passing you on the freeway then try speeding up to match the flow of trafffic. You are slowing everyone else down.
If you hold a cell phone to your ear, you are probably driving stupidly. You cant pay attention to the road and all the changing conditions while you are paying more attention to what the person on the other end of that phone call it saying. At least get a hands-free headset so you can drive with both hands while you are not paying attention. Or better yet, wait until you get home or pull off the road to have your important phone conversation.
Lets just have some consideration for the fact that EVERYONE else on that road just wants to get to their point B as soon as safely possible.


I live in NJ and am getting to the point where I just dont know how much longer I can remain civil while driving. Just today, I was driving down a residential street going 30 in a 25mph zone. Came to a stop sign and stopped. The guy behind me opens his window and starts berating me for stopping! This is not the first time I've encountered this kind of behavior. It was my kid's car and even had those red stckers on it. Imagine if the kid was driving it? I've gone to the police and they will not ever do anything to the offender. So, I ask, do I need to get a 38? I am at whits end.


This driver almost side swiped another car and hit a pedestrian.

Doge Caravan AFZ 4571 GA plates


despite taking my peaceful values with me while driving, it has done nothing but hurt me. It doesn't matter whether i live in the city or the country (i live in the country now) every single time i get in the car, whether i take a 2 miles trip or a 40 mile trip i am raged the entire way. i am punished for a. doing the spped limit, letting people into traffic, letting peds cross the street, using my left turn signal then waiting to make a safe left, i am raged at because i pull over when an ambo comes you get it. tonight a man physicall assaulted me at my car, he got out of his car, came to my car and bashed on my windshield to tell me i was going to slow he did this in middle of traffic.................i did not roll windown down and yes, he did have a monster truck terminator and yes he was tailgating and they all do 80 in a 35 zone out here on one lane blind rural roads and they feel if we don't do the same they are going to punish us. it just makes you not want to leave the house and it makes me feel the country is as dangerous as the city was


Road Rage is really out of control I have seen a few incidents some where the drivers for no apparent reason want to race other vehicles because they're too slow or they're driving big cars and the small car is in their way.This incident is worser this woman that was chasing a vehicle into the school and actually tried to block this other woman and actually started yelling,ranting,cursing there was alot of us parents that were witnessing this coward yelling at a child and this woman.I saw her being called out and this other woman was bigger than the rager it seems she changed her mind because the rager was just ranting.Most of us called the cops and school police but she had taken off.I keep thinking of this incident that most ragers don't get that they won't be able to pick on everyone and they're ranting one day might be to the wrong person and no one's life is worth that.I also can't believe that most ragers use their vehicles to attack others just because they drive big cars doesn't mean they own the road.I feel like it's embarassing to witness adults behaving like this and in front of children worse.I also think the police should start taking raging alot seriously.I'am not violent but what I have seen I now carry a camcorder and my stun gun and would like to have a gun to protect myself from crazy people.

Anti Mad Max,

Be careful around Bellevue WA area at the end of the work day traveling on Northbound I-405 & SR 520. There is an idiot on the lose in his mid 40's, slight built, driving Silver Honda S-2000 with license place number 700-TZW. Today he literally forces me to create a gap between my car and the car in front by inching to the left 2 feet ahead of my front bumper.


I was involved in a situation earlier today, being tailgated. This old p/up truck was following me LESS than a foot from my rear bumper!! I hit the brakes, then eventually eased off the gas and surprisingly, he had the audacity to get CLOSER!!! I couldn't make out his plate number, it being hard to even see his plates! Just had to vent!! Next time, I'll let him pass me and report his plate number to police.


Road Rage can happen to even the most careful of drivers. I admit I went through it when an idiot of a driver, driving down the road so fast, cut me off at the exit ramp from South Route 23 to Route 23S leading to Route 46 West. The ramp only have two lanes and they merge into one prior to the lane for those getting off I-80. The idiot driver cutted me off right where the two lanes were about to merge, thus he almost crash into me.

So out of anger, I sped up and got behind him and honk my horn, etc. I admit now that I did wrong, but this guy nearly ended my life for what? To get ahead first than everyone else? In hurry to get to work? I have a clean record and always obey the rules of the road, but this one time incident got me thinking that driving conditions in NJ will get worse. :(


Watch out for NY Plate EMV7833, this man is insane!

Big D,

So I'm dropping off my son at school this morning which is usually a challenge because the neighborhood where the school is only has one entrance/exit, parents seem to only care about themselves and getting their kids to school, usually blocking traffic to make a light and in the process keeping the turning lane traffic going to the school from making the light, I don't understand this myself? Anyhow, theres two lanes exiting the school, I usually use the far right lane and this morning was no exception, except this time the guy in the grey RAV4 license plate #6FGC033 did NOT want me getting ahead of him, so he cuts me off and I'm driving a Hummer? Traffic is bad at this point and we're just sitting there. As traffic begins to move he uses the small size of his car to get around cars and onto the main street but when I did get to the light where he was stopped he made sure to keep himself ahead of me, cutting me off, racing ahead and stopping by other vehicles keeping me from passing, at this point I noticed a small child in a car seat and I proceeded to follow him to get his plate number, he got onto the freeway and was weaving in and out of traffic like a crazy man, we weren't driving fast but he made sure to keep ahead of me. We then exited where I was able to get his license plate number and passed him as he turned off. As I was waiting at a light I looked in my rear view and noticed him there behind me, I think maybe taking down my plate number? This man is obviously enraged to drive this way even with his baby in the back, and then decide to take down MY plate number? I did contact the CHP and report him as well as contact the school and report him there but I feel like there's really NO legal recourse for victims of such actions here in the Bay Area where I live? I do understand that no one really goes out to drive in raged, especially at this school where it is VERY frustrating getting in and out, but come on! We all have to get in and out of this school, lets help one another instead of being selfish and only looking out for ourselves!


Yesterday I was driving on the interstate in the right (driving) lane. I got off on an exit and proceeded to a Starbucks drive-thru. As I rolled down my window to order a man in bronco pulled in behind me and yelled "you C-- where did you learn to drive?" I looked behind me and he proceeded to call me the C word and curse loudly at me shaking his fists. I did not recall seeing this vehicle or cutting him off. I had my infant son with me and this man kept yelling very loudly and shaking his fist. I was in the drive thru so i was stuck and could not drive away. I told him I would call the police if he did not stop verbally assaulting me. The man then put his car in reverse and backed out of the drive through and sped through the parking lot. I think the drive-through video may have his license plate. I was shaking and terrified, i felt this man was about to physically attack me but he did not (only verbally). The Starbucks employee says she saw the whole thing. I would like to pursue some type of charge against this man but have no idea whether charges even exist for being followed and yelled at by another driver. Probably not. Has anyone had a similar experience? I am mostly just shaken up and though it may sound silly i feel victimized by this person- I am a decent person and who is he to follow me into the drive-thru and call me those vulgarities in front of my son? Would the police even do anything, if i was able to track him down?

Crazy Driver,

Watch out for CT Plate 489XOC this man is insane!


A Silver Mid Sized Car with Connecticut Plates 489XOC tried to run myu wife and I off the road several times. Following us, break jobs, stopped completely on I 95 and swerving to hit us before we called the police. CT police did nothing! Worthless!

joe kessinger,

I try to keep the law at all times.
the law said any one can cut you off, but I want to know if we cut the law off would we get a ticket, if the law said this then they should go by it too right?
or it no good at all. of florida


this man cut me off just to go to the store up the road his tag is G56-4W it said dog groom. p.s. they should have the law for this but they don"t.......


You followed a woman home?

You should be arrested!

Joe Driver,

Everyone on here clucking to themselves about bad drivers and drivers who road rage, need to look in a mirror and check the definition of road rage. Any action: speeding up, slowing down, offensive gestures, TAIL GATING, following a vehicle, abrupt lane changes, flashing your lights, changing lanes without signaling, merging with little room and so on. And it does need to involved 2 drivers "acting badly." I'm driving down the road, in a hurry, and I come across you going the speed limit and I get angry, you're behaving poorly? You want to stay out of trouble? Buy a video camera and use it along with your cell phone to call 911 at the beginning. Follow all traffic laws, and that means a safe following distance of a car length for EVERY 10 miles of speed - 65mph means 6 and half car lengths minimum. AND DON'T ENCOURAGE IT. Keep your hands down, and slow down a hare in order to get them ahead and away from you. And get the camera recording AFTER calling 911.You'd be surprised how often & quick people tend to behave when they see the camera. Record their plate, vehicle, AND DRIVER only if you can without encouraging the other person and feeding their anger. Do not stop to fight and keep your temper in check, because you have no idea who they are or what else they've done.

Mark Spitz,

Hi. Thanks for the article. Since some of the comments here related to the state of new jersey, i am providing a useful resource. I hope it is useful to you all.


Hey NJ>NY, you have an emergency golf ball that you throw at other cars? You follow women home and have words with them? You complain that people aren't driving 70 or 80 like you are? Face it buddy, you're not one of us, you're one of THEM! The retarded person is in your bathroom mirror each morning. Maybe you were the one driving the black Nissan Titan that day I was on I-80...


Once I was driving through a McDonalds parking lot, when I stopped to let this guy pull away from the drive-through.

When he saw me, he smiled, and motioned for me to go. When I took my foot off the brake, he started moving.

I stopped, and again he smiled and motioned for me to go. Again, as soon as my foot came off the brake, he started moving.

I stopped a third time, and again he stopped and motioned for me to move. This time I quikly drove past him and loudly voiced my opinion of his driving.

I then went inside the Mc Donalds, and in a manner of seconds a voice next to me said, "What did you say to me out there?

I turned and saw the guy standing next to me. This time he said, "You were cursing at me out there. What did you say?"

I replied that I hadn't said anything, and he snarled "That's what I thought", and stormed out the door.

Thankfully it didn't go past this point. But it raises an interesting question.

Are we incorrectly applying the term "road rage" to anybody who gets mad at us behind the wheel, even if we actually deliberately provoked their anger?

When I was in school, if you actually had the guts to stand up to a bully, that bully tended to run to a teacher and spout out some variation of "He just hit me for no reason."

Some of us might be doing the same thing behind the wheel, and that could be deadly.


I used to live in NJ, and for those of you who aren't familiar with the layout of the Garden State, here are a few design flaws that help cause road rage:

On the Garden State Parkway, the Major Service Plazas are located in the center, between the north and southbound lanes. That means that in order to use them, you have to ride in the left lane. With the volume of traffic in New Jersey, you need to get into that lane well in advance, and if you need gas, you certainly don't want to speed, which makes it difficult for everybody who wants to go fast in that lane.

Most other States I've been to put their service plazas on either side of the major highways, not in the middle of them. Maryland is the only other place where I've seen these center plazas, and they have better ingress/egress lanes than those in NJ.


the behaviour you describe seems like an awful lot more than being rude. Normally you apologize and these incidents are over. The vast majority of drivers can understand a mistake and will only get enraged if you ignore them, or worse (give them the finger). But if a driver follow and harasses you and cuts you off in retaliation that's an assault. Maybe you reported this too mildly?


Living in the Bay area all my life I have seen several acts of road rage and it has made me into a very cautious driver but apparently not cautious enough. This evening I was on my way to exiting a safeway parking lot, turned ahead of a car about 100 meters away. The driver so enraged, accelerated up behind my car, pulled himself out of the window, began yelling and cursing and flashing his lights. Nervous, I turned right into traffic. The driver swerved next to me, so I sped up in hopes of losing him. He began swerving into my lane so I slowed down and changed lanes, he swerved ahead of me and the slowed down to a complete stop in the middle of 40 mph traffic, nearly causing a collision between me and the truck behind me this continued for a distance until I turned off. My passenger took down the plate number and I called the police. The women who took my call asked me what I expected her to do about someone being 'rude' to me. I can't believe that this sort of intimidation and reckless driving is so commonplace that the police won't investigate.


historically, the left lane used to be the fast lane. but somehow in the bay area now, drivers who are driving under the speed limit or the speed limit get in the left lane and hog it. what point are they proving? i have lived here for 46 years and since the onslaught of newbies moving here, driving has become a ridiculous event for the cerebrally encumbered.

to the moron today who slammed on his brakes, hoping i would rear end him. i hope you know what an a--hole you are. you just might pull this stunt on someone who has more dangerous things in mind then calling you an a--.

to the noir handicapped sticker heading north who was cheering him on: hatred is a human disease. doesn't matter what color, shape or size. just the heart. you were cheering him on. here's your hatred back.

NJ > NY,

I keep reading stories that say "I was in the passing lane (cruising, not passing) and this guy tailgates me and gets pissed off..." or "I cut in front of him and he proceeds to.."

Like someone else said, most road range incidents happen because one driver was driving like an idiot. Cruising in the left lane (get it straight, folks: THE LEFT LANE IS FOR PASSING. IF YOU AREN'T PASSING, GET OUT OF THE LEFT LANE), driving with a handheld cell phone stuck to your ear, driving under the speed limit (if you can't drive the speed limit, you shouldn't be driving - period. I don't care if you are old or infirmed), cutting into another driver's lane when there is almost no room to do so...these things usually precipitate road rage. If you do these things don't be surprised if other drivers get incited.

In fact this just happened to me TWICE today. Two different drivers pulled into my lane and cut me off, forcing me to jam my brakes. When I raised my hands as if to say "what he hell?" they proceeded to give ME the finger and mock me. Sorry folks, that won't fly. I'm not a violent person but I followed the woman home and, well, let's just say she won't be pulling that crap with other drivers any time soon. The other guy got a nice dent in his door courtesy of my emergency golf ball. Call me bad for not just looking the other way like a p***y...if these idiots didn't put MY life in danger and cause the situation, nothing would have happened. And I am glad that they didn't get off scot free.

Oh, and anyone who things NJ drivers are worse than NY drivers are mentally retarded.


It's not the end of times. 50 years ago not as many people had cars or the means to get a car. Now every single person out there thinks they should need a car. There are just more drivers on the road, that's all.

I'm tired of road rage too. I'm a slower driver because I got hit a year ago by someone text messaging, and I'm just a little more cautious and probably drive people nuts, but I'm working on becoming a better driver. I'm at the point where I need to figure out how to let past road rage incidents go. It's because I was a slower driver ... well, I drive the speed limit and not below it. Anyway, I'm rambling ...


I think that people who exhibit road rage are in a bad mood already. If you follow common sense, be courteous and don't cut people off(even if you turn on your turn signal at the second you do it), and just get out of their way, you'll avoid any confrontation or escalation of the situation.



Does someone you love have terrible road rage? Is his or her horrible attitude behind the wheel causing problems in your relationship? Does their aggressive driving make you feel so unsafe that you are afraid to get in the car with them? Do you want to get them help?

A NYC production company is currently casting for a new reality TV show that aims to make the roads safer! If you know someone who needs to learn how to be a safer, calmer driver, we want to talk to you! In your email please include your name and contact information plus a brief explanation of who you are nominating and why! And please, do not tell your road raging loved one you are contacting us.


Jessica Hornedo, Casting Associate Producer


I spent a hair-raising minute in front of a moron in a black nissan titan with jersey plates on I-80 that came flying up behind me. He could have reached out and opened my trunk he was so close. And no I wasn't in the passing lane. I very gradually slowed down so he'd pass me. Oh he passed me alright. And then got in front of me and slammed on his brakes. His girlfriend/wife looked half scared and half embarassed. If I were her I'd be both. He'll wind up killing someone. It won't be him though. It'll be someone innocent. The idiots always seem to live through the tragedy they cause. We called 911 with his license number but I imagine it was a waste of a couple of cell minutes. I'd rather drive in Midtown Manhattan at 5:15 than through Jersey. At least with yellow cabs you know what you're going to get.

bay area sucks,

I cant stand it when people ride your ass when your going 65 mph in the SLOW lane, and the retards on their phones those are the worst.

za lunatic,

its the end of times people!! 50 years ago, road rage was not even a word. now, thats all you hear. we are all gonna die people! the end of the world is near! repent! repent! repent! give up your car-ish ways! go back to the bike! ues your feet. even if it will take you 3 years to get to that deal closing meeting!


I can say from personal experience there are stupid people on the road. They do everything from cutting you off , tailgaiting, slamming on brakes for no reason, and the one i c da most is no turn signals. It ticks me off mainly because I almost lost my mother in a car accident. And it was because some1 slammed on brakes in front of her and the person behind her wouldn't let her in 2 get on the highway.



I am a new driver just moved from India. I have taken a test here and have got my license here, but it is likely that I shall make a few mistakes when I drive on highways here. Things like entering the highway, checking the blind spot, etc are alien to me. In India, most people only drive within the city, and rarely drive at more than 25 mph. Any suggestions for me to avoid such situations? Thanks


Sry..i meant if you cant do at least the speed limit..not if you can do it... a tard..


On the highway there are alot of crappy drivers. There are those who speed past you and cut you off, and those that go 45mph when it is 75mph. My thoughts are if you can do at least the speed limit, you shouldnt be driving at all. I think that when we have to have our drivers liscence renewed we should have to take the driving test again as well. If you cant drive, you dont, at least not legally. That may help, may liscence, you cant get insurance,you get in a wreck with a person with no insurance, your screwed. There is no helping the situation.

S. Florida driver,

Ditto! RC and Rage Leads to Cage
We are not the only ones on the road. That's the problem when you have drivers with this BAD ATTITUDE.

Write and complain to your LAW MAKERS & YOUR LOCAL Department of Motor Vehicles. Its too easy for beginners to get a Drivers License. I sometimes think the bad drivers bought their licenses. "Defensive Driving and Driver's Education Courses" should be mandatory in all States.


I had someone pull over, cut me off going down an off ramp and then put the brakes on. She also threw something at my car. Called the police, total waste of time. I live in NJ also and they do nothing when you call that number. It is a waste of taxpayer money.


I live in ct and i think ct and mass. has the most aggressive drivers. one night i was in the fast lane going 75 on a 65 and this driver came out of nowhere and got on my rear end. so, i slowed down instead of braking. he got closer and then he decided to get in the other lane and pass me. when he went around me he almost clipped the front of my car while getting in front of me and then he slammed on his brakes and gave me the finger. is it really worth calling the police about an incident like this?


....55 you say not driving up to their level or standard ...As a general rule, drivers who become enraged or engage in horn blowing or aggressive behavior don't have a high standard. The "maniac" probably wasn't observant or skilled enough to get around you and by skill I don't mean 70 mph and swerving. Just anticipating .


I live in NJ. Tonight, some maniac was annoyed because I slowed down slightly (not to his liking). I think that earlier in the trip, with my blinker on, I went in front of this guy and he didnt like that but, I dont know this for sure. Anyway, he came up along side me and aimed his car at mine, at 70+ MPH and almost caused an accident. My wife and I were astonished. I called 911 and reported the incident along with the maniacs plate number. The State Trooper taking the call wasnt too eager to do anything about it anyway. And then, to raise the bar one more notch, as I am trying to exit the highway, the maniac, who is in front of me on the highway at this point, tries to exit the highway also, presumably to confront me, by crossing over three lanes of highway at 70 MPH in less than a few hundred feet. I gotta tell ya, something needs to be done to ensure motorists arent endangered by these types of drivers who flip out because you are not driving up to their level of standard...

Ann Cavaliere,

I'm getting sick of road rage & other drivers pulling real close in front of you & almost hitting you because they didn't like it because you pulled out in front of them & you had plenty of room. Rt. 1 in North Attleboro is very busy & no one gives you a break or respects the other driver. I asked at the police dept. what could be done & they said they have to see it. People almost & due cause accidents with their road rage & hurrah for me & the hell with you attitude. You'd think & older person would be more patient. Ha! Please learn to hold your temper by acting out you only tick the other driver off! Then there are 2 angry people!

Rage leads to Cage,

I am most impressed by what driver rc said more than any other comments. I've experienced road rage several times in my 18 years of life. Everyone does something stupid on the road. No driver is perfect and we all do something to piss someone else off. There is no way we can keep everyone happy. When I began practicing these thoughts, I no longer focused on the mistakes of another driver who was being an idiot. Like driver rc said, put ourselves in the other's shoes. In contrast, we shouldn't expect others to understand us. It doesn't hurt to start opening your mind first. Judge ourselves before we judge others.

driver rc,

preggovictim, I agree about hoping people have a conscience and realize they're making fools of themselves by tailgating and driving like they own the road.

They really are putting those of us who obey the laws at risk. I recently had a tailgater on a 30 MPH street (IN a construction zone, mind you) who I noticed mouthing obscenities and gesturing at me even though I was going about 35 mph. My reaction was to try to "kill 'em with kindness" -- I just waved a couple times into my rearview mirror, and then and waved "bye!" at them once they went their separate way - the driver mockingly waved "bye!!!" back, lol, and hopefully later on she realized what a fool she made of herself. Did she really think she'd save herself a whole 20 seconds? I just don't get it.

I shared the story with someone who said we should put ourselves in the other person's shoes...they could be dealing with something very hard in their lives (death in the family, chemical imbalance, drug addiction, etc.) but my thought is, how do they know where I am coming from -- what if I just lost a family member to a drunk driver or was just in a car accident and that's why I'm driving more cautiously?
...just some thoughts!


Here, in India, road rage has just started catching up as the next 'in' thing. TAXIs and CABS are the main tailgators.


Okay, the last several commentors (excluding drivers ed student) need to first figure out how to correctly spell and use the English language.
I digress.

Most people are being reactive instead of proactive. Let's just hope that some of these people have a conscience and realize their mistakes. If you can't follow the laws (speed limits-low and high, signaling, lane changes, etc), then don't drive. Old Pop should let his grandson drive if he can't handle the traffic!!


oh my god today is friday 6.1-07 iwent out with my kids and here is three dods flebm of for no resen and they start to moon me give me the midel finger so ipold over to let them go away from me . so i caol the police and igive them the licen number of the car and idont know what gona hapen but its reale rong for thes peapol to drive arownd becous if my haspend was whith me he will crash them .

drivers ed student,

I am doing a project on road rage now i myself have also seen road rage but not experienced thankfully. These posts and the information above have helped alot. If you know any other good web sites to find information on road rag please post it on here.



i think that it is a dangerous thing that is happening on our roads we should try and put a stop to it!


Roberto, enforcing the law, dangerous driving on a turn, letting the guy open your door? Either ther's something wrong here or your and idiot


i just had a road rage insident. i was going to work on a sat, morning. i was on aroad where 3 kids had been killed, the posted speed limit was 30 with double the fine sign, so i was doing 35mph. there was some one behind me with all kinds of lights, he was tail gaiting, so i speed up to not get him upset at my speed, but at 40 i thought the speed was to high, so he starts to pass me on a turn with a double yellow line. heres wherei made n error. i moved over to block the road, when i stopped at the next light he got out of hes car and opened my door n beat me to a poalp. if there had not been witnesses to help me he probably would had killed me, do not do any thing to anger this people. pull over n let them by, its not worth it, i have alot off pain,


The true problem is that Road Rage is a reaction to Improper or Stupid Driving. I live in Oregon and Idiots drive in the left lane even when not passing, people feel they own the road and dont understand that THE LAW states you should only pass on the left lane.
People who use cell phones and drive are another problem, they do not follow the flow of traffic and it is very upsetting.
If we could get police to start ticketing people for being stupid cows hearded on the highways and actually use the brains that god has given them. then maybe we will all deal with less traffic and less roadrage.


For everyone that posts to these websites about road rage incidents, I have a question. Why don't you have a video camera? Go out and get a video camera- one that also takes pictures is great- and the next time some driver does something stupid/bad/idiotic or whatever, grab the camera and start filming. So if the driver beings a road rage incident, you have it on tape. Having that tape goes a long way to it being not just your word. And grab your cell phone and call the police at the beginning of the incident so the cops can catch them in the act. So quit typing out incidents and grab your camera and record, so next time, you can post the video! Of course, this does mean that you have to behave to and not contribute toward the incident by responding back to them during it.


I have noticed road rage seems to be more prevelent in certain areas. For instance in Santa Rosa, CA if a driver puts on their turn signal to get over the car in the next lane will speed up closing the gap. However, I find in the San Francisco Bay area, if a driver signals to get over the other drivers will generally back off and let that person over. I am wondering if the pay / cost of living differential makes for grouchier dirvers and road rage.

Time out,

To James:
You ask "maybe we should go back to old and slow vehicles?"
I think the question you should ask is...
my god, why do I behave like a total jerk behind the wheel of a car?
I am pretty sure you would not ever behave that way walking down a sidewalk...there is a consequence to be paid, after all.
And that is the problem, I feel, in a nutshell.
Drivers get behind the wheels of these over sized sherman tanks and all of a sudden, pardon the expression, they grow balls the size of grapefruits.
There are a lot of Jekyl-Hyde personality types on the road, and we see them every day, unfortunately.

Passive aggressive,

I don't totally agree with Walter H's comments on road rage always occuring between two aggressive drivers. Sometimes, and I have witnessed this first hand, an extremely cautious or slow driver will enrage another motorist.
For example, we have all seen angry drivers tailgating cars that are driving too slowly in the "passing lane". Or drivers who get upset with cars that seem to take forever to move on a turning light. Often, these slow drivers are elderly people whose reflexes and reaction time and general awareness of the situation isn't what it should be. Of course, be that as it may, that is no excuse for angry drivers to threaten slower drivers with retribution. It doesn't take a great deal of courage to cut off an elderly driver and then physically threaten them.


I hope Angry Driver was just kidding...
you were kidding, right?

Angry Driver,

There are morons that likes to cut in front of you if you drive a little car like a Toyota "Echo" or something, but if you drive a car like the Chevy Suburban, the morons will always signals before changing lanes in front of you. This tells me that people are just plain ol' pussies. It's illegal for me to carry guns, but if I did, I will most definitely start shootin'!

k' train,

serously i agree with laura!!!


Agreed. People act extremely inconsiderate and agressive on the road. Everyone always in a RUSH!!!


Like James, I recently got a more powerful car and felt the change. Somehow I now felt that I was supposed to get there faster than anyone else and I got mad if someone in a 'lesser' car passed me.


People act a fool on the highway. If you think about it for a second: You can save a life by not driving aggressively.


I drive a really old combi-camper van, and it is always the slowest vehicle on the road. I generally move out of the way and let other drivers overtake when I can. I am never in a rush to get anywhere, as I know the combi is slow. I love driving in my combi and find it very relaxing in any traffic conditions.

This weekend, I borrow friends car to get to the beach. The car was fast, and I found that I immediately wanted to get to my destination quickly. I wanted to put my foot down, acelerate fast, and drive like it like a racing car. I was ery frustrated when I got stuck in traffic and for the first time n 3 years got really angry with other drivers geting in my way. Shouting and giving people the finger (bird) became the theme of the day.

Maybe we should all go back to old and slow vehicles?

Walter H,

Simona, some advice. road rage almost always happens between two drivers, neither of whom have behaved very well. Drivers only get mad at you if you treat them badly or refuse ot accept that you have made a mistake. If you don't drive aggressively you are extremely unlikley to have a problem with road ragers.


I think it is still on the rise.If you're in a panic don't get behind the wheel.

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