What’s road rage?

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Road rage is a mental disorder that has increased in prevalence over the last decade. It can lead to dangerous incidents and even vehicular manslaughter. Defensive driving techniques and avoiding aggressive maneuvers can help prevent road rage. Laws regarding road rage incidents vary from state to state.

Road rage covers a multitude of overt acts committed by angry or frustrated drivers, from deliberate theft to vehicular manslaughter. Its prevalence has increased so much in the last decade that psychologists have classified it as a mental disorder. Many drivers who are prone to sudden emotional outbursts or inappropriate reactions are now said to suffer from intermittent explosive disorder. However, not all road rage incidents can be attributed to a mental disorder. Some experts believe that drivers learn aggressive behavior by watching their parents and seeing numerous examples of simulated anger on television.

Even in the best conditions, driving is a stressful activity. Experienced drivers develop coping mechanisms for the everyday driving mistakes of others, but there’s always the possibility of a big accident lurking around the turn. Drivers also have a responsibility to keep other passengers safe during the trip. With all of these things to consider, it’s easy to see why some drivers may be especially anxious or defensive. If another driver does something wrong or reckless, the result can be the explosive, uncontrolled reaction we recognize as road rage.

One of the main concerns during this type of incident is escalation. If another car pulls over an aggressive driver at an intersection, for example, the offended driver may yell expletives or honk excessively. At this point, road rage could be avoided if the angry driver stops to cool down for a few minutes or accepts the incident as a minor annoyance. Instead, he or she may become even more enraged and decide to punish the other driver. When the situation escalates, a person’s driving can become more erratic and reckless. Anger and frustration temporarily override better judgment and the driver becomes consumed with notions of revenge or revenge. Some extreme cases end with vehicular manslaughter, assault with a weapon, or other physical assaults.

Many driving schools teach students defensive driving techniques designed to reduce the number and severity of minor accidents. Some drivers confuse defensive driving with aggressive driving, which can lead to dangerous incidents. While anticipating accidents and driver error is good practice, aggressive driving often stirs up powerful emotions within drivers. One of the best ways to avoid road rage is to reduce aggressive maneuvers while driving. Safely passing a slow-moving car is one thing, but tailgating followed by an abrupt lane change and increased speed is a form of road rage. As a general rule, drivers should avoid hitting the road in highly emotional states.

Laws regarding road rage incidents vary widely from state to state. Many drivers who succumb to it can only be charged with minor traffic offenses such as signal failure or speeding. Depending on the events, some may be charged with more serious crimes such as reckless or aggressive driving. If there was damage to the other driver’s vehicle or property, a civil lawsuit could also be filed. Some states may charge a driver with road rage, although in extreme cases the charges may be vehicular manslaughter or attempted murder with a vehicle. Since the event may be of short duration, the driver may not show signs of emotional deterioration at the time of arrest.

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