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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Difference Between Road Rage And Aggressive Driving

While doing some research on aggressive driving, I was struck by the tendency, by some, to use the term aggressive driving and road rage interchangeably as if they were the same thing. While one can lead to the other, they are definitely different and I think it is important, for your safety and mine, to understand the distinction between the two.

We all can recognize an aggressive driver. They are the ones who speed, tailgate, weave in and out of traffic, pass in no-passing zones, and run red lights; sometimes doing two or more of these acts at the same time. Most aggressive drivers drive aggressively as a matter of habit, either ignoring or unmindful of the possible consequences. Most feel that they are excellent drivers who have complete control over their vehicles and everyone else is just getting in the way. While they are aggressive, they would never actually want to hurt anyone.

Road rage comes about when a driver is pushed over a psychological tipping point, loses control, and becomes so enraged that he or she tries to take out their anger on another driver. Even a normally law abiding driver can, under certain circumstances, be pushed over that edge. A typical road rage incident starts out with one driver cutting off another or forcing him to take evasive action. That leads to retribution of some sort and very quickly a traffic game begins with each driver trying to “teach the other a lesson.” Too often the game of retribution escalates to the point where the drivers try to confront each other directly and the situation turns violent and deadly.

Road rage has become so prevalent in American society that all you have to do is type “road rage” into the search field of Google news and you can easily find a recent example. I just did that and read an article from this morning about two drivers who began cutting each other off until one blocked the other at an exit ramp and both got out of their vehicles to confront each other. Unfortunately one reached for a machete and attacked the other. He was subsequently arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. Another situation from two days ago led to two drivers attacking each other with metal batons and bats. A little over a month ago, a driver in my community was shot while driving on the interstate in a road rage incident

This is the first of a series of articles on aggressive drivers and road rage. In following articles, we will examine how to recognize whether or not you may be guilty of some aggressive driving tendencies and we will look at the psychological make up of different types of aggressive drivers and we will see how a driver can be pushed over the edge into a fit of rage. We will also look at steps you can take to prevent becoming a victim of a road rage incident.

To learn more about driver safety and education please visit our Driver Safety Alerts at

Be careful out there and drive safe.

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