We’ve all been there, driving in traffic and finding ourselves frustrated by the behavior of other drivers. It’s one thing to be upset from time to time; it’s quite different to experience actual road rage. When someone finds themselves constantly feeling angry when they drive, it can be a sign of a deeper emotional issue. Montare Outpatient recognizes that when a person has habitual road rage, it may mean they need help related to a mental health disorder. We help people identify their illnesses and work to relieve the symptoms that complicate their lives. With our help, people can become calmer and stop feeling anger whenever they get behind the wheel.
What is Road Rage?
The term “road rage” means aggressive and angry feelings and actions that occur when a person is driving. Someone with road rage becomes overwhelmed with anger when driving because of how others around them drive. They can react by doing things like tailgating, speeding up or slowing down, weaving in and out of traffic, and trying to force a confrontation with another driver. In fact, road rage shootings happen across the country, putting people in danger whether they are driving around the corner from their homes or across the country.
The subject has even shown up in popular culture. The Russell Crowe road rage movie from 2020 called Unhinged told the story of a violent, angry driver who stalked a woman relentlessly after a perceived slight from her on the road.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) reported that almost 80% of drivers in the previous year had “expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage” while driving. The same report shows the following alarming statistics about how many people used road rage behaviors in the same year:
- Tailgating: 104 million drivers
- Yelling at another driver: 95 million drivers
- Making angry gestures that may provoke another driver: 67 million drivers
- Purposely cutting off a vehicle: 24 million drivers
- Getting out of the car to confront another driver: 7.6 million drivers
- Blocking a car from changing lanes: 49 million drivers
- Ramming into another car on purpose: 5.7 million drivers
Is Road Rage Caused by a Mental Health Disorder?
While not all cases of road rage have a correlation with mental illness, many of them do. Unchecked anger is a common symptom of different types of mental health disorders. The anger itself may be caused by stress, anxiety, and poor impulse control. All of these can also be symptoms of mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Someone whose road rage is symptomatic of a need for treatment should consult with a therapist or treatment facility that can help determine exactly what is going on. Participating in therapy and the use of prescription medications can help a person release anger in healthy ways and stop feeling the need to rage behind the wheel.
Dangers of Road Rage
When someone engages in road rage, they aren’t limited to angry outbursts that prove harmless. In fact, road rage can lead to several dangerous and even deadly outcomes. Road rage increases the chances that an automobile accident will occur. It also puts people at risk of engaging in hand-to-hand confrontations that can include physical fights or the use of weapons. When one driver acts in anger behind the wheel, it also increases the chances that another driver will act the same in return.
How Does Road Rage Affect Driving Skills and Judgement?
When someone is consumed by road rage, it alters their decision-making and driving skills. The individual is more likely to make bad decisions about how to drive and react to others on the road. They tend to take more risks, react more slowly to what’s happening around them, and have difficulty judging the speed and distance of oncoming traffic. The person is also quicker to give in to their anger-based impulses and engage in physical altercations.
Is Road Rage a Criminal Offense?
While “road rage” is not a chargeable offense using that terminology, a person can be arrested and charged for using driving behavior that is commonly considered to be road rage. A person can receive a fine or be charged with aggressive driving if the way they drove is seen as likely to endanger themselves, other people, or property. However, what starts as road rage can quickly escalate to serious charges, such as assault against another person, manslaughter, murder, or vehicular homicide. Each of these charges can result in jail time or prison sentences.
How to Avoid Becoming a Contributor of Road Rage
There are ways to avoid becoming consumed by anger when behind the wheel. You can keep from becoming a contributor to road rage by focusing on and using these tips:
- Give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going.
- Only use positive hand gestures, such as signaling to someone they can merge in front of you.
- Leave your horn alone. Honking it repeatedly can increase feelings of rage in you and other drivers.
- Have clear directions for where you’re headed to avoid getting lost.
- Put yourself in the other driver’s shoes. They may be driving in a way that frustrates you because they are lost or having a bad day.
- Never tailgate.
- Do not engage in anger with another driver.
- If you become angry, pull off the road and give yourself time to calm down.
- Talk to a therapist to help gain control of consistently feeling angry.
Get Help for Mental Health at Montare Outpatient Treatment Center in Encino, California
Do you find that road rage is in the passenger seat whenever you go for a drive? If so, we can help you identify the true issues that make this potentially dangerous symptom surface. Montare Outpatient in Encino, CA provides the type of intensive care that helps people learn to control their emotions and behaviors and feel calmer. We offer services on an outpatient basis so you can get the help you need while still having plenty of time to tend to your daily responsibilities.
Contact us to talk about how road rage can be addressed through one of our comprehensive treatment programs. Our friendly admissions staff can answer any questions you have.