Blog Road Rage Is On The Rise

Sep 24, 2021

Road Rage And Aggressive Driving

Woman in white shirt expressing frustration while driving

A study from April 2021 finds that 95% of Ontario drivers admit to road rage and aggressive driving. On the other side, 93% of drivers say they are courteous drivers. Which category do you fall into?

As gridlock and construction seem to only be on the rise, many have their personal time being infringed on by traffic. Getting cut off, having someone steal your parking spot, slow drivers impeding traffic and other people not abiding by road rules can also add to the frustration. It’s potentially dangerous if you don’t control your emotions at the moment.

We’ve gathered information to help you understand road rage and how to do your best to prevent aggressive behaviour on the road.

What Is Road Rage?

Road rage is aggressive driving behaviours such as cutting off other vehicles, following too closely, engaging in dangerous habits and not obeying traffic laws.

The term can also apply to attempt to kill, injure, or intimidate a pedestrian or driver, or damage their vehicle. It is perhaps best defined not by a specific action, but as a negative emotional response or aggressive reaction to a situation or other driver.

Other signs of road rage can include :

  • Erratic driving
  • Ignoring traffic rules, signs, or signals
  • Flashing lights or excessive horn honking
  • Using crude language or disregarding rules of the road with other drivers, pedestrians, or cyclists

Symptoms of road rage can cause accidents and have a poor effect on the mental health of other drivers. It’s crucial to be a courteous driver and control your anger to keep yourself and others safe.

How Does Road Rage Affect Your Driving?

When you feel angry or impatient, you may take bigger risks such as speeding, swerving, or becoming distracted and taking your eyes off the road. Anger can turn into tunnel vision and that can lead to putting drivers in danger.

It’s important to practice defensive driving and take breaks if you are stressed, otherwise road rage could put you into the high-risk insurance category.

How Dangerous Is Road Rage?

Young man with sunglasses in car stressed out

While many assume road rage to be nothing more than an overly aggressive driver or someone honking their horn, it is a lot more serious. In 43 cases (72.9%), criminal charges were laid, usually assault, manslaughter or dangerous driving, because there is no charge specifically for road rage.

“Many road rage behaviours can be considered aggressive driving, which is one of the leading causes of death on Ontario highways,” said OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt to CBC News. "We still see it all the time, and people are just frustrated on the highways, I guess, and taking it out on their fellow motorists," Schmidt adds.

Road Rage Statistics

Not convinced that road rage is a serious issue? In addition to some of the crazy videos that have popped up online, here are some eye-opening stats from safemotorist.com and NCBI that communicate the dangers of road rage :

  • 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving.
  • 37% of incidents involve a firearm.
  • Half of drivers who are on the receiving end of an aggressive behavior, such as horn honking, a rude gesture, or tailgating admit to responding with aggressive behavior themselves.
  • In 2019, 82% of people admitted to committing an act of road rage in the past year.
  • Over a seven years, 218 murders and 12,610 injuries were attributed to road rage.
  • 2% of drivers admit to trying to run an aggressor off the road.
  • Many Canadians are failing to control their emotions when behind the wheel. According to a recent survey, 1 in 3 Canadians admit to suffering from road rage at least once per month.
  • Of the biggest pet peeves for drivers, 30% cited tailgating, 22% distracted driving, 22% getting cut off, and 11% another driver taking up two spots in a parking lot.

What Is The Difference Between Road Rage And Aggressive Driving?

These terms are often interconnected. Aggressive driving usually escalates into road rage, but road rage does not always happen in cases of aggressive driving. Other forms of road rage can include stunt driving and speeding.

What Causes Road Rage?

There is no shortage of causes that can lead to road rage. Some you bring on yourself, and other drivers and situations bring some on. Here are some of the main causes of :

  • Elevated stress levels
  • Traffic congestion and poor conditions to drive in
  • Poor driving habits – failure to signal, check blind spots or engaging in distracted driving
  • Reactions from other drivers
  • Running late
  • Being tired or driving for too long without a break
  • Negative mindset

These are only some of the countless things that could cause you or other drivers to break into a fit of road rage. While you cannot control the actions or emotions of other drivers, there are things you can do to ensure you stay levelheaded when driving.

Tips To Avoid Road Rage

Avoiding aggressive driving habits and road rage incidents are the key to staying safe. Here are some easy to implement ways to avoid situations where it could occur :

  • Be self-aware: Being conscious of the situations that make you tense while driving and being aware of your tension level will help you better control your emotions when driving. If you feel stressed or impatient, take a deep breath and refocus on driving.
  • Pullover and take a break: Whether you have a long commute or are starting to feel irritated, it’s a good idea to take a break to relax and calm down.
  • Don’t rush: Always give yourself enough time to get to your destination. Check the traffic, construction, and weather in your area so you can plan your route accordingly.
  • Get some sleep: Drowsy driving has a big impact on your mood and ability to drive attentively. A poor night’s sleep will not only make you irritable, it can also increase your chances of making a mistake.
  • Don’t sweat the small things: This is perhaps the most important point of all. You and other drivers will make mistakes and errors in judgement when driving – it’s human nature. If another driver makes a mistake, rather than honking your horn or yelling, just let it go. It’s not worth getting upset about and potentially escalating the situation.
  • Don’t take things personally: Don’t take other drivers’ actions personally. They didn’t merge in front of you or fail to signal just to spite you – they probably just made a mistake. Avoid taking these situations as competition.
  • Treat other drivers with respect: How do you want other drivers to treat you? If you make a mistake. you don’t want others to yell at you. You want them to be understanding.
  • Don’t aggravate other drivers: Be courteous to other drivers and communicate your intentions by using your signal, don’t tailgate, and let drivers pass or switch lanes.

How To Cure Road Rage

Frustrated male driver

Do you find yourself constantly aggravated on the road? While you can’t control the actions of other drivers, you can control your reactions. Here’s how you can prevent your road rage habits.

  • Consider taking an anger management course or seek therapy
  • lay soothing music
  • Get sufficient rest
  • Leave early
  • Be aware of how you drive – are you driving distracted or impaired?
  • Take a defensive driving program
  • Put pictures of your loved ones on your dashboard to remind you to be mindful
  • Be present, and remember to breath and relax your hands on the steering wheel
  • Take breaks – consider stopping for a short rest or a healthy snack if you’ve been on the road for a couple hours straight
  • If you made a mistake, say sorry. It can reduce the risk of conflict

Does Insurance Cover Road Rage Situations?

If you have collision or comprehensive insurance, then you will likely be able to claim any damages from an accident that involved road rage. Some companies may exclude road rage on the grounds of reckless driving, and the action is risky and deemed as criminal behavior. Details can be found in your contract, or you can contact your insurer to confirm.

How To Deal With Road Rage Drivers

We’ve all had situations where another driver beeps their horn, gives you the one finger salute or yells obscenities at you. While it’s tempting to give it back to them, you should always do your best to keep calm and let it go. Here is what to do if you are approached or threatened by a driver with road rage :

  • Don’t react or retaliate with gestures or aggressive actions
  • Avoid making eye contact
  • Never get out of your vehicle and lock your doors
  • Maintain your focus on the road
  • If you are being tailgated, change lanes or exit
  • Slow down and allow them to pass
  • In extreme cases, pullover where it is safe and call the police

Road Rage FAQs

Road rage isn’t a crime under the Criminal Code or Highway Traffic Act, but the effects of it can lead to tickets and car insurance increases.

Road rage is dangerous because drivers do not have full control of their vehicle and cause accidents due to poor judgment and slower response time to what is going on around them. For example, they may run a red light instead of slowing down.

If you experience road rage from someone and your life was threatened, you can report it to Ontario Provincial Police. In these situations, it is important to be able to identify the driver’s license plate or vehicle.

If you notice that you tend to yell, make rude gestures to other drivers, change speeds and lanes without warning, or tailgate, you may have symptoms of roads rage. Consider taking a test online or speaking with a mental health expert.

Here Are Some Other Helpful Articles

Top Tips For Driving at Night
Are New Car Safety Features Worth It?
Have A Fender Bender? What To Do When A Car Accident Happens in Ontario

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