AAA reports that almost 80 percent of drivers experience anger and aggression when on the road. Even more alarming, about 8 million drivers each year engage in extreme aggression or road rage, such as confronting another driver or ramming another vehicle. While you might assume such behavior is limited to big cities, even on highways and country roads it is highly possible you could experience road rage from another driver. 

Is it road rage or aggressive driving?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration makes a distinction between aggressive driving and road rage. The former is a traffic offense, defined as driving that does or can potentially endanger others, both people and property. Aggressive driving includes:

  • Tailgating
  • Making angry gestures
  • Blocking vehicles from changing lanes
  • Confronting or yelling at another driver
  • Bumping or ramming a vehicle on purpose
  • Honking in anger or frustration
  • Cutting off a vehicle on purpose

Aggressive driving turns into road rage when a driver deliberately commits traffic offenses to endanger others. It can include assult with a vehicle or other weapons on other drivers or passengers. Road rage can be charged as a criminal offense, which has more consequences.

What to do in a road rage incident

AAA offers tips to drivers who are involved in a road rage situation:

  • Drive defensively. Do not offend other drivers by being on the offense. Do not make other drivers change speed or direction. Prevention is better than getting into a situation that could escalate.
  • Stay tolerant on the road. Do not take aggressive driving personally. Give other drivers room and let them get through, if possible.
  • Do not respond to aggressive drivers by making gestures. Avoid eye contract. Call 911 if you need to. Pull over or drive to a parking lot or police station to get help.
  • Do not follow another driver who has offended you.

If you are involved in a vehicle accident with an aggressive driver, get medical help first. Call law enforcement to report the accident. Do not attempt to negotiate with the other driver. If the other car drives off, record as much information as you can, and let the authorities deal with the person. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. You might want to talk to an attorney who understands the ramifications of road rage.