We know how exciting hitting the road on your own for the first time can be.
That newfound freedom seems to only have upside as you explore new places on your schedule. What many new drivers don’t expect are the pitfalls of road rage.
Road rage is a volatile and dangerous experience that touches almost every driver.
A national survey of Australian drivers showed an astounding 93% had been the target of road rage. 43% admitted to perpetrating aggressive driving as retaliation against another.
We’re committed to helping our students identify and overcome their own road rage while being able to spot it in others. Our drivers also learn how to navigate through being the target of another driver’s aggression.
What is road rage?
We’ve all heard the term, but experiencing it first-hand is frightening.
Road rage is a burst of explosive anger that arises when a driver perceives an insult from another driver. This anger then triggers aggressive and often dangerous behaviour toward another driver.
Driving involves a high degree of unspoken trust between strangers. Every time we hit the road, we cooperate with people we don’t know in life-or-death situations. We don’t often think about it until that trust is broken through a real or perceived slight.
Common types of road rage
It’s difficult to predict exactly how someone will react when they feel angry on the road. It boils down to an inability to control emotions and subsequent actions. The most common forms of road rage include:
- Yelling, screaming, swearing
- Honking, flashing lights
- Chasing the targeted driver
- Preventing drivers from changing lanes or exiting
- Challenging a driver to a confrontation outside of the vehicle
- Aggressive hand gestures
- Weaving, driving on the shoulder or median
We can all get annoyed with another driver, but when someone feels a need to exact revenge on a perceived slight, it becomes rage.
The dangers of road rage
When road rage flares, it presents a real and immediate danger to drivers. Those new to the road and inexperienced in defensive driving are most susceptible to a bad outcome. Aside from the discomfort a driver experiences from a burst of anger, other consequences include the following:
Accidents, injury and vehicle damage
While every case of road rage doesn’t end in an accident, 96% of drivers involved in an accident said aggression played a role.
Some people perceive they’ve been wronged and have such extreme anger that they want the other driver to exit their car and fight. These altercations lead to dangerous situations that can end in physical harm and even death.
When a driver is the target of road rage, it’s detrimental to their confidence on the road. Self-conscious driving leads to second-guessing, reactionary behaviour and poor or delayed decision making. These can all contribute to dangerous mistakes.
What to do if you experience road rage
Being able to calm your temper is the only way to overcome road rage once it starts. First, be on the lookout for warning signs of an impending outburst:
- Feeling stressed and impatient
- An urge to text/call/tweet about the driving skills of someone else
- Muttering or swearing to yourself
- Speeding to outpace someone else
- Glaring at other drivers
- Cutting off or blocking someone else to get back at them
Hopefully, you can acknowledge what’s happening before it becomes full rage. Once you feel upset taking over, here are a few safe practices you can use to calm down:
- Take three deep and slow breaths.
- Practice empathy toward yourself and others — everyone makes mistakes!
- Slow down, exit or otherwise distance yourself from the upsetting situation.
- Repeat calming mantras like ‘it’s not worth getting upset’ or ‘I want to get there safely’.
- Remember, you are always in control of your own emotions!
How to prevent your own road rage
Being able to diffuse your own emotions is an important skill. It’s even more important to do everything in your power to avoid that kind of anger in the first place. We have developed some simple ideas for ensuring each drive is as stress-free as possible:
- Always leave on time or a little early — the stress of being late will only add to your agitation.
- Get enough sleep. Tired drivers have a shorter fuse and are more likely to make mistakes.
- Don’t text or talk on the phone while driving. Distractions equal trouble.
- Plan ahead. Knowing where construction zones are and avoiding them removes added stress.
What to do if you’re a victim of road rage
The longer you’re on the road, the more likely you will be the target of someone’s wrath behind the wheel. Use our tips to safely and effectively remove yourself from the situation.
- Stay alert. Not paying attention to your surroundings is the biggest reason for mistakes.
- Acknowledge a mistake. A simple wave of apology when you accidentally cut someone off can diffuse a volatile situation.
- Do not engage. If someone is angry, don’t match that anger. Slow down or move over to get away from the situation.
- Get help. If someone is relentless, don’t let them put you in danger. Use your cell phone to call the police. If you’re being followed, drive to a police station instead of your original destination.
Be confident, safe and self-assured on the road
Most drivers think learning the rules of the road is all they need to be successful. We take your safety a step further with our defensive driving course.
Defensive driving helps you gain more confidence, avoid dangerous situations and stay calm during emergencies.
New drivers who’ve completed their P plates can learn tactics and skills they haven’t gotten in any other course. We ensure our students receive practical advice and hands-on experience. You’ll learn from skilled and experienced instructors.
Our defensive driving course addresses:
- Vehicle control on Perth roads
- Fatigue management issues
- Driver behaviour study, including road rage
- How to drive on different road surfaces
- Driving at dusk and nighttime
- How to anticipate danger before it happens
Drive confidently and arrive safely
At Eclipse Driving School, our defensive driving course is designed for one thing: your safe arrival no matter where you’re going. Whether you’re a new driver or would just like more confidence behind the wheel, we can help you feel safe, secure and ready for anything you might encounter on the road.
Frequently Asked Questions
Road rage can be defined as sudden, uncontrolled anger or aggression exhibited by a driver. This can manifest itself in different ways, such as honking the horn excessively, making threatening gestures, yelling or even purposely tailgating other drivers.
There are no specific road rage laws in Western Australia, but there are a number of dangerous or reckless driving offences that could be applicable in certain situations.
For example, under the Road Traffic Act 1974 (WA), it is an offence to drive a vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public or without reasonable care and attention. This includes deliberately obstructing or intimidating other drivers, driving too close to another vehicle, and sudden changes of direction or speed.
There is no one specific cause of road rage, but it is often sparked by factors such as stress, frustration, fatigue, traffic congestion, bad driving habits, or even just plain old-fashioned rudeness. Alcohol or drug use is also often a factor in road rage incidents.
Factors that can contribute to road rage, may include being cut off in traffic, being tailgated, or experiencing someone driving erratically. Road rage is serious and can lead to dangerous consequences, such as car accidents or even physical altercations.
If you’re experiencing road rage, or if someone is driving dangerously and putting you and other road users at risk, it’s important to take action as soon as possible. In Western Australia, the emergency number to call is 131 444 for Police Assistance Centre (PAC). The PAC operator will be able to direct you to the right emergency service depending on the situation. If it’s an emergency, don’t hesitate to call 000.