What is Road Rage?
Road rage is an individual’s reaction to a driving situation that
results in retaliation and dangerous behavior. Road rage is more
than anger; when a driver reaches a level of anger at which he or she
begins to react physically, it often culminates in a road rage, a
criminal offense. The behavior can be as minor as a threat or it
can escalate to the actual harm or death of the driver who becomes the
target of an individual’s road rage.
It is unclear what spurs drivers to exhibit road rage. It might
be learned behavior or it could be an innate reaction to the stressors
of the road, thereby predisposing only certain individuals to road
rage. Whatever the cause, we often see otherwise seemingly
laid-back individuals lash out irrationally when provoked on the
Are Incidents of Virginia Road Rage Increasing?
While there is evidence of an increase in aggressive driving over
the past 10 years, road rage has likely been affecting drivers since
the advent of motor vehicles; however, with increased media coverage
and reports on road rage easily accessible on the internet, it seems
that it is ever increasing when, in reality, the information is more
prevalent and easily attained.
There is evidence, though, that our increased technology and growing
population contribute to a growing trend of aggressive driving that
might result in road rage. We are sharing the road with a
multitude of drivers which can contribute to our stress
There is also evidence to support that road rage is more likely to
occur at certain times of the day and week, such as during rush-hour
and on Fridays, and that drinking/drugging while driving also incite
In an effort to combat road rage, Virginia is only 1 of 2 States that
require Virginia Driver’s Education courses to address road rage
How Do You Avoid a Confrontation?
According to the Virginia DMV, there are several things a driver can
do to avoid a confrontation with a driver who is exhibiting signs of
- Do not stop or pull over to confront an aggressive or enraged
- Do nothing to aggravate the situation with eye contact, gestures or
- Use #77 to report aggressive driving or suspicion of road rage
- Do not drive home – drive to a police station or heavily populated
- Report a road-rage incident from a distance
Cooler Heads Do Prevail!
If you recognize a driver who is exhibiting signs of road rage, do
not provoke that driver. While the instinct might be to defend
yourself or to retaliate, this will only exasperate the situation and
could result in violence.
If you recognize that you exhibit or have exhibited road rage, it is
best to strike at it preemptively. If you will be on the road,
the Virginia DMV makes the following recommendations:
- Allow plenty of time to get to your destination
- Plan trips to avoid rush hours
- Improve the comfort in your vehicle
- Understand that you cannot control the traffic
- Don't drive when you are angry
- Listen to soothing music when you drive
- Listen to traffic and weather reports to learn of potential delays
How Does Road Rage Start and End?
Road rage might begin as aggressive driving which is characterized
by speeding, lane-weaving and the cutting-off of other drivers.
The driver might be visibly upset and giving hand-gestures or
yelling. If this driver is provoked, this situation can easily
escalate to road rage. When it does, this driver may use his car
as a weapon or do things to intentionally cause harm to another
driver. You might even see this driver attempt to pull-over or
force-off-of-the-road the driver who has become the object of his
anger. If the driver who is exhibiting road rage is successful,
it is likely that they will physically cause harm to the driver who has
pulled over, if they have not already caused harm by driving them off
of the road.
The severity of the outcome will determine the fines, violations and
criminal charges that will be brought against the driver who is
exhibiting road rage.
Reporting Road Rage
If you witness road rage, it is advisable to pull over at a distance
and notify the proper authorities. Do not approach the driver of
either vehicle. If you are the object of another driver’s road
rage, drive to a heavily populated area or a police station to
potentially bring the situation to a safe close. Do not exit your
vehicle until the proper authorities have arrived on the scene. As soon
as it is safe, report the driver to the proper authorities, even if all
of the characteristics of road rage were not quite exhibited.
According to the Virginia DMV, the proper procedure to follow is to
dial #77 on your cellular phone and be prepared to give a description
of the driver's vehicle and the license number, location and direction
of travel. Remember that the driver shares the road with many people
everyday and, while you may have averted disaster, someone else will
become the object of his rage at another time.