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Why is Road Rage on the Rise and How Can You Stay Cool and Collected While Driving?

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Filed under Automotive, Editorial

The media coined the term road rage in the 1990s to describe a growing trend of extremely aggressive driving behavior flooding the country. Since then, cases of aggressive driving have continued to increase, making it among the most common dangers on American roads. 

Almost everyone you know may have, at one point or another, shown some form of aggression while on the road. According to a study conducted in 2019, 82 percent of drivers admit to having driven aggressively at least once a year. 

This guide explores why this phenomenon is rising on American roads and gives tips on remaining cool and collected while driving.

Why Road Rage Is On the Rise

Increased Congestion

Registered vehicles increased from around 193 million in 1990 to 275 million in 2020. This increase in the volume of cars on the road is not always in tandem with infrastructure expansion. 

Also, the influx of cars is concentrated in cities exacerbating an already bad situation. With high traffic volumes on the road, drivers are bound to experience delays which put some on edge and ready to explode at the slightest provocation, such as cutting them off, braking suddenly, honking, etc.

Stressful Lifestyles

Traditionally, having electricity, running water, and gas was enough to get by for a family. But today’s lifestyles demand so much more, like fast internet, multiple gadgets, and many other things that make everyday living expensive and stressful. 

As a result, most people are on edge even before they get behind the wheel. To these people, anything on the road is enough to cause an eruption that can result in devastating consequences.

Mental Health Issues

While controlling the feeling of anger can be a challenge for everyone, the challenge goes much higher for people who have a mental illness. According to statistics, mental illnesses in America are at an all-time high, with approximately 20 percent of the adult population suffering from a form of it. 

While not all people suffering from a mental illness will exhibit road rage, it significantly contributes to increasing cases of mental illnesses. 

Drunk Driving

Drunk drivers are more prone to driving aggressively than other groups of people. According to recent data from the NHTSA, more drivers have been getting behind the wheel while intoxicated since the pandemic. 

Besides affecting a person’s ability to control a vehicle effectively, alcohol intoxication can cloud their ability to reason, making them more prone to acting out at the slightest provocation.

Avoiding Road Rage Situations

Road rage situations present themselves in different forms. Sometimes you could be the victim of aggression. At other times you could be the aggressor. Either way, knowing what to do to stay safe can help better the outcomes of situations that could otherwise turn catastrophic. Here are some things you should do to avoid road rage situations.

Planning Ahead

When in a hurry to get somewhere, you will be more likely to act in a manner that can trigger a case of road rage or be more prone to getting triggered. So always plan ahead of your travel and allow yourself ample time to ensure that you will not be in a hurry if traffic holds-up. 

For example, if you want to be at a destination at a certain time, give yourself a few minutes or hours allowance over the usual time, depending on the distance you are traveling. 

Listen To Calming Music

If you know you are easily triggered, it’s important to go the extra mile to stay calm while on the road, and listening to calming music is one way of keeping calm. 

While music is known to keep stress levels down, ensure you do not get carried away or distracted, as it could also create a dangerous situation.

Take Breaks

Fatigue or driving for long hours can be a huge stressor increasing the possibility of getting irritated quite easily. If you are tired, pull over, do some body stretches, or catch a nap. 

Make sure you stop at safe locations to avoid putting yourself and other road users at risk.

Avoid Aggressive Drivers

You can’t control how other people choose to react in stressful situations. But you can control how you handle yourself. If you encounter an aggressive driver, do all you can to avoid making the situation worse. For example, avoid eye contact or gestures that would further enrage them. Keep a safe distance or allow them to pass. If they are relenting in their aggression, call the police.

What to Do if You Are Hit in a Road Rage Accident

While most cases of road rage end in nothing more than acting out, there are circumstances where the outcomes can result in devastating accidents. The good news is that victims of a road rage accident can often sue the driver for the injuries and damages they sustain if they are not the aggressor.

Like other car accident cases, recovering compensation begins with filing a claim against the at-fault party. If successful, recoverable damages may include economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

Final Words

You probably have had an episode of driving aggressively or encountered an aggressive driver. While you cannot eliminate the chances of getting in a road rage situation, knowing the causes and how to avoid such situations can greatly impact your outcomes.


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