Tips to Help Reduce Road Rage   

Tips to Help Reduce Road Rage

man angry driving car

June 10, 2022

Clinical Contributors to this story:
Justin Kei, M.D.

If you’ve ever driven aggressively in response to stress, anger, or another driver’s behavior, you’ve experienced road rage. 

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, almost 4 out of 5 drivers drove aggressively or experienced road rage in the previous month. Not surprisingly, road rage causes drivers to make impulsive and risky decisions behind the wheel,  which can lead to car accidents, injuries and fatalities.

“People may experience road rage if they’re already stressed or upset, which may put them in a more aggressive frame of mind and cause them to act in reckless ways that they would not ordinarily do,” says psychiatrist, Justin Kei, M.D., “When people are worried because they’re running late or they’re angry about something that happened at work or another driver cut in front of them, they may take driving-related risks that they otherwise wouldn’t have.”

How to calm down and reduce feelings of road rage

There are several things that you can do if you’re feeling worked up about the drivers around you:

  • Don’t take another driver’s actions personally. Assume that they’re having a bad day.
  • Listen to music that you love to improve your mood.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply to calm down.
  • Count from 1 to 10 before you react emotionally to the situation.
  • Focus on getting to your destination and seeing your loved ones.

To lower your chances of feeling aggressive while behind the wheel in the future:

  • Get enough sleep before you drive anywhere. Drowsiness may make you feel more impatient, act more aggressively or inspire you to take risks.
  • Don’t have any alcoholic beverages before getting behind the wheel.
  • Allow a few more minutes than you think you’ll need for each drive, so that you have built-in wiggle room; you may feel less stressed and angry if you hit traffic.

How to de-escalate the situation when another driver experiences road rage

If another driver is acting hostile toward you, try these steps:

  • Don’t return the other driver’s honks or hand gestures.
  • Avoid making eye contact with the driver or any passengers in that car.
  • Let the other car pass you.
  • Switch lanes and slow down gradually, so that you’re no longer near the other car.

If an aggressive driver gets out of their car and tries to confront you, stay in your car with the doors locked and the windows rolled up. Don’t look at them or talk to them.  If you are stopped in traffic or at a light and confronted or threatened, turn your phone on video and capture a few seconds of the behavior. Drive away safely if you can. 

If you’re being followed by an aggressive driver, drive to a police station, not to your home. Call 911 for assistance. Get their license plate number if you can do so in a safe manner.

Driving and stress can be a bad combination, but it is important to be in control of your emotions and behavior to get to your destination safely, and avoid preventable injury and harm to yourself and others around you.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.


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