Skip to content

    Mental Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Road Rage: What It Is, How to Avoid It

    Aggressive driving -- to the point of endangering others -- is on the rise. Do you know how to stay out of harm's way?
    By
    WebMD Magazine - Feature

    A year ago, according to news reports, Corrine Leclair-Holler, then 29, was talking on her cellphone while driving in Concord, N.H. Another driver, Carissa Williams, then 23, yelled at her, then pulled ahead. When she reached a freeway on-ramp, Williams stopped her car, got out (leaving her own baby in the car), climbed into Leclair-Holler's car, and shot her with a stun gun -- despite Leclair-Holler's cries that she was pregnant.

    Leclair-Holler and her baby were fine. Williams was convicted of assault as well as criminal trespass and endangering the welfare of a minor. She now faces up to 20 years in prison.

    Recommended Related to Mental Health

    Chris Benoit: Was Roid Rage to Blame?

    Pro wrestler Chris Benoit apparently was taking testosterone before his death, toxicology tests show. Benoit, his wife, Nancy, and their son, Daniel, were found dead in their home in Fayetteville, Ga., near Atlanta in late June. The deaths are suspected to be a murder-suicide that began when Benoit allegedly killed his wife and son and ended when Benoit hanged himself. Toxicology tests performed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) show that Chris Benoit had the anti-anxiety...

    Read the Chris Benoit: Was Roid Rage to Blame? article > >

    Hundreds of road-rage incidents like this one are reported every year in the United States. Road rage, defined by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety as "any unsafe driving maneuver performed deliberately and with ill intention or disregard for safety," includes cutting people off, hitting one car with another, running someone off the road, and shooting or physically assaulting other drivers or passengers.

    "With road rage, you're basically driving under the influence of impaired emotions," says Leon James, PhD, a professor of psychology at University of Hawaii and co-author of Road Rage and Aggressive Driving.

    Causes of Road Rage

    Young men initiate most road-rage incidents, but anyone can feel rage behind the wheel. That's because anyone can take offense at what they think another driver is doing. "Our emotions are triggered by mental assumptions," James says.

    Other factors that trigger road rage include preexisting stress and an innate feeling of intense territoriality that is suddenly threatened by another driver.

    What's the cure? James says recognizing and controlling aggressive thoughts, feelings, and actions are key. Cultivating compassion may also help. In a recent study, 312 of the 400 men in a court-ordered domestic abuse program had prior convictions for aggressive driving. A year after taking compassion classes, only seven had received additional convictions.

    Healing From Road Rage

    Getting over road rage entails a "lifelong program of self-improvement, plus a driver personality makeover," James says. Try these tips from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

    Today on WebMD

    contemplation
    Differences between feeling depressed or feeling blue.
    lunar eclipse
    Signs of mania and depression.
     
    man screaming
    Causes, symptoms, and therapies.
    woman looking into fridge
    When food controls you.
     
    Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
    Article
    senior man eating a cake
    Article
     
    Phobias
    Slideshow
    woman reading medicine warnings
    Article
     
    depressed young woman
    Article
    man with arms on table
    Article
     
    veteran
    Article
    man cringing and covering ears
    Article
     

    WebMD Special Sections