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Road Rage

What Is Road Rage?

The Missouri Driving Manual defines road rage as “an uncontrolled display of anger by the operator of a motor vehicle (usually in response to another driver’s actions), which can result in property damage or personal injury.”  These aggressive drivers can cause a great deal of damage when they are incensed behind the wheel of a car.  Road rage is often indicated by one, some or all of the following characteristics:

  • Excessive use of the horn
  • Flashing headlights
  • Forcing another driver off the road or to pull over
  • Tailgating, swerving at, cutting-off or bumping another vehicle
  • Verbal abuse and/or threatening gestures
  • Assaulting or threatening to assault another driver
  • Causing damage to another vehicle


Incidents of Road Rage Are Increasing

While it is difficult to obtain reliable statistics on incident of road rage, there is evidence to support that incidents are steadily increasing every year.  Increased access to the media via the internet has drawn attention to this growing epidemic, but it has done little to curtail the issue.  Our population continues to grow and the road is shared by more and more people every day, and this likely contributes to road rage.  Also, stressors that we face at home and at work contribute to increased incidents of aggressive driving that often culminate in road rage.  In fact, over the past 10 years we have seen an increase across the Nation in incidents of aggressive driving, so logic dictates that the violence that may ensue is indicative of growing road rage incidents.

You may be comforted to know, however, that Missouri drivers have consistently proven themselves to be some of the least likely drivers in the Nation to demonstrate aggressive driving behavior and road rage.  Missouri drivers, generally speaking, are often deemed ‘courteous’ drivers.  However, ‘Destination: Safe,’ a Missouri Traffic Safety Enforcement Program hosted by the Missouri ‘Arrive Alive’ campaign, is a period of time during which law enforcement officials heavily patrol specific traffic areas and cite drivers for aggressive driving behavior.  The most recent ‘Destination: Safe’ program in December of 2007 posted numbers that were quite disturbing.  Out of 2,213 traffic stops, 1,169 were ticketed for speeding or following too closely, and hundreds more were caught violating traffic signs and signals or driving carelessly.  This shows that aggressive driving behavior and possible road rage are still an ominous presence on Missouri roads.


How Do You Avoid Confrontation?

The Missouri Department of Revenue makes specific reference to aggressive driving and road rage in the Missouri Driver’s Manual.  The Department brings attention to aggressive driving and road rage because it is, very simply, dangerous behavior.  While we cannot force others to drive courteously, we can control ourselves behind the wheel of a car and thereby avoid inciting an incident of road rage in another driver.  If you encounter a driver who is exhibiting aggressive driving behavior or who has escalated to road rage, the Missouri Department of Revenue makes the following recommendations in the Missouri Driver’s Manual:

  • Remain calm and do not react with similar behavior
  • Identify the location (for example: intersection, mile marker, direction the vehicle was traveling, etc.)
  • Get a physical description of the driver
  • Get a description of the vehicle (approximate year, make, model, color, license plate number, etc.)
  • Report the incident to the nearest local authorities as soon as possible
  • If you have a cellular phone, exit the roadway to a safe area and dial *55 (or 911 if you are in a metropolitan area)

Always remember that this is a serious situation and that a driver who is exhibiting signs of road rage is likely irrational and desperate to lash out.  Do not attempt to handle this driver on your own.  Contact the appropriate authorities as soon as it is safe to do so.  You could save your life or the life of another driver by doing so.


Cooler Heads Prevail!

Simply put, do not drive your vehicle if you are not in the proper state of mind to do so!  If your day has been especially frustrating, take measures to ensure that you are not put in a situation that could escalate to road rage.  Allow more time for your trip, or postpone your trip until you have had time to ‘cool down.’  If you absolutely must drive, be sure you are comfortable and listen to soothing music.  Talk to a loved one before taking to the road; this might be enough to soothe you, also.  These are just some of things that you, as a driver, can do to decrease the chance that you might drive aggressively or be incited to road rage.

If you encounter a driver who you witness driving aggressively or who is or is becoming enraged on the road, do not confront that driver!  Your instinct might be to defend yourself or to retaliate, but this will only exasperate the situation.  The Missouri Driver’s Manual suggests that you remain calm, identify the location, and get a description of the driver and the vehicle.  Once you have arrived at a safe destination, report the driver by calling *55 or 911.  Avoiding the driver and a potentially dangerous situation is always the safe decision!


How Does Road Rage Start and End?

Road rage is typically seen in those drivers who entered their vehicles in a frustrated or stressed state.  This driver will likely drive aggressively and may be speeding, swerving, cutting-off other drivers and will be visibly upset.  If this driver is encouraged or provoked, he or she may begin using their car as a weapon to run another driver off the road or physically ‘bump’ another vehicle on the road.  These are all signs of very dangerous behavior.  If law enforcement does not intervene, this episode may end violently.  If an aggressive driver is successful in forcing another car off of the road, he may approach the other driver and cause him further harm.  

Report this driver.  Do not approach the driver, look at the driver, or incite the driver.  Simply report the driver to law enforcement officials.  Once the police are on the scene, the driver who has exhibited road rage will face fines, violations and possible criminal charges.


Reporting Road Rage

The Missouri Department of Revenue has outlined specific steps to take when reporting road rage.  These steps can be further researched in the Missouri Driver’s Manual.  Basically, you are encouraged to avoid the incident and the driver at all costs.  Let law enforcement officials handle any incidents of aggressive driving or road rage.  As a driver, however, Missouri encourages you to report any incident that you feel may be indicative of road rage by remaining calm, identifying the location, getting a physical description of the driver, getting a description of the vehicle and reporting the incident to the nearest local authorities as soon as possible by cellular phone.  

Do not dismiss the incident!  You are sharing the road with this aggressive driver today, and someone you love may share the road with that driver tomorrow!

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