16 Ways You Are Causing Road Rage

By Mikey Rox on 22 September 2014 10 comments

Ever gotten into such a tizzy in the car that your head nearly exploded? You're not the only one. SafeMotorist.com reports that 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving — or "road rage" — and half of drivers who are on the receiving end of an aggressive behavior, such as horn honking, a rude gesture, or tailgating admit to responding with aggressive behavior themselves. (See also: 12 Ways You're Driving Your Coworkers Insane)

You can help prevent road rage, however, if you drive responsibly and recognize the common catalysts for most incidents. In no particular order, here are 16 highly contentious vehicular sins you might be committing that have the potential to escalate to a dangerous level.

1. Driving Slow in the Fast Lane and Refusing to Move Over

It's hard choose the most offensive of all driving offenses from this list, but this one is definitely near the top. There's nothing that will have me calling you all kinds of names not fit for church if you're driving five miles or more under the speed limit in the left lane of the highway. And on two lane highways? It's called the "passing lane." If you aren't passing, move right!

2. Keeping Pace With the Car Next to You So No One Behind Can Pass

Yeah, you know this guy. He's driving the exact speed as the car next to him so nobody behind can pass. Not only is this really creepy — I don't want some stranger staring me down for an extended period of time while I'm driving — but it's also downright rude. Speed up or fall back so I can escape this torture already.

3. Riding Your Brakes for No Apparent Reason

What's that ahead of you? Oh, nothing? You just want to press on your brakes every 10 seconds because you feel like 25 in a 35-mile-per-hour zone is too fast? Or maybe you're just a poor driver who needs to be reevaluated by the DMV. Whatever the case, get with the program pal; people are losing their patience.

4. Endangering Lives Because You're Fiddling With Your Phone

Everybody thinks that they've mastered the skill — and maybe you have — but you also have to consider the unpredictability of other drivers on the road who can do any number of things to affect your own driving. The National Safety Council reports that more than 25% of all automobile crashes are associated with cell phone use these days. And if you're not paying attention, the potential outcome of this situation can be worse than you've ever imagined. If you're at fault, you might be paying for it for the rest of your life. Listen to Oprah, folks; don't text (or talk or browse the Internet) and drive.

5. Flying Into a Rage for No Good Reason

Did the driver that offended you really do something so bad that you now have to go to confession this weekend? Probably not, so why did you react so aggressively?

Author Rachelle Henry thinks that it's important to not project your feelings onto others — especially when in the car — if they really didn't do anything wrong. "When I had a job that I hated, every morning during my morning commute someone managed to upset me by doing something 'stupid,' and I would become irrationally angry," she says. "When I no longer had that job and was happy, I let things roll off of me." It's all about perspective, my friends. Evaluate your happiness level to see if there's a reason you're lashing out prematurely.

6. Failing to Use Blinkers When Changing Lanes

How am I supposed to know that you'd like to get in front of me or that you'd like to glide across three lanes of traffic in an attempt to avoid missing the exit if you don't have a blinker on? I don't — which makes for an excellent case in court when you cause a crash.

7. Speeding Up When You Spot Someone Trying to Merge

It never fails that as soon as I turn my blinker on to merge into another lane, the person trailing behind me in the intended lane suddenly gets a lead foot. It's one of those give-me-strength moments that are best handled with regulated breathing and a long count to 10.

8. Turning on Your Blinker Two Seconds Before You Turn

It would be nice to know that you'd like to make that right turn more than a few seconds before you make it. But what do you care, right? If I rear-end you, it's my fault regardless. Don't be that person.

9. Weaseling Your Way Into the On- or Off-Ramp at the Last Second

Listen, I live in Manhattan, where traffic is treacherous nearly 24/7, so I understand the plight of not wanting to wait in line for another dreadful few minutes to take the next exit. But have some compassion. The folks ahead of you have been waiting longer than you, so it's a real you-know-what move to cut them off so you can get home quicker.

It might also be helpful to know that you could become fodder for someone else when you act a fool, like so many people did for Kerri Kochanski, author of 1,001 People That Suck, which features an entire chapter on road rage. "One day I was so aggravated by a driver who cut me off," she says. "Instead of stalking and confronting the driver, or turning my anger inward, I decided to write a book about this person — and other anonymous people who do rude, crappy things and get away with it. Maybe they wouldn't suffer a consequence from their actions, but at least they would be 'officially' labeled as 'people that suck.' And that would make me feel better, and it would prevent me from landing in jail."

10. Blasting Your Horn Prematurely

The light just turned green. Give the driver a break before you fly into a blaring, obnoxious fit because they didn't take off like it's the Daytona 500 the moment the light changed.

11. Rubbernecking

We're all guilty of this, which is the problem. Rubbernecking jams up the road so badly that the delay can last for miles — even when the accident is on the other side of the road. As soon as you pass it, however, it's a wide-open highway. Why, whhhhhy do we do this to ourselves?

12. Bicyclists Who Don't Follow the Rules of the Road

I've seen bicyclists who have purposefully gone the opposite way of oncoming traffic, those who have blown through red lights with absolutely no regard for drivers, and riders who take up a regular traffic lane with their 14-miles-per-hour nonsense and don't give a lick that anybody's behind them. Note to all the bicyclists out there: You're riding a bike; the rest of us are driving cars. One hurts a whole lot more than the other, so be courteous and obey the rules.

13. Holding Up Turning Traffic When You're Not Turning in a Turn-Only Lane

Many times this is a mistake, so I'll just impart on you that it's important to pay attention to the signs painted on the road ahead of you. If you're not turning, you shouldn't be in the turn-only lane holding up everybody else. That's a real good way to get beeped to death in some places.

14. Multitasking at the Wheel

We've already discussed how you shouldn't fiddle with your phone while you're driving, but there are other distractions that can cause problems on the road. Here's a quick list of no-nos: Eating, putting on makeup, reading a newspaper (I have seen this in action and I was in total shock), doing anything with the person in the passenger seat that would be deemed illegal if you got caught, doing anything with yourself that would be deemed illegal if you got caught. Focus on safe driving so everybody gets home with all the parts with which they started the day.

15. Standing in a Parking Space to Save It

I believe in first-come, first-served, so if the vehicle is not around to claim a spot, you shouldn't have your body in it so nobody else can take it; that's not how this works.

Last holiday season I encountered a girl in a parking space that she refused to give up to four nice ladies in a car that pulled up because her "mother was on the way." She also claimed that her mother was handicapped, at which point I showed her the very available handicapped spot just across the street. She didn't want to hear any of it, refused to budge, and basically wore the four nice ladies down until they moved along. Of course, when her mother showed up (who was driving and also flipped the ladies off), the only handicap she appeared to have was an incredibly rude daughter.

16. Swooping Into a Parking Spot That Has Been Claimed by Another Driver

This is another personal situation I've dealt with, and maybe you have too. I drove around a busy parking lot on a Saturday afternoon for what seemed like forever until I finally found a spot. I put my blinker on and waited for the car to pull out so I could pull in. Before I had a chance, however, a car swooped in from the opposite direction and slid right in. And wouldn't you know that she had the audacity to start screaming at me when I expressed my frustration at her for being selfish and inconsiderate? Soooome people!

Do you have driving scenarios that are likely to send someone into road rage that you'd like to add? I'd love to hear your stories in the comments section below.

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Guest's picture
Guest

This is a list to prevent road rage? Yet, the author seems to be having it while writing this article.

I know there are places bikes are allowed to take up a whole lane when they don't have a bike lane. How about you're in a car, they're on a bike, don't be a jerk and endanger them just because you can't "waste" two minutes.

Guest's picture
Guest

Actually, I think this article just talks about the cause of road rage. I don't see anywhere where it promises to fix it.

Personally, I hate driving, but the only thing I hate more than my morning commute is the idea of taking seven or eight buses to accomplish the same route.

Guest's picture

Unfortunately, some people develop road rage at the very idea of someone having the audacity to ride a bike.

I do obey all the traffic laws on my bike--even the stop signs when I'm coming home from work late at night.

But sometimes you an almost feel the rage coming out the car windows as someone accelerates to pass me in the 20 feet before we have to stop at a stop sign.

Arrrrgh.

Maybe it's time for 13 Helpful Tips Every Bicyclist Wish Drivers Knew. I'd be happy to write it.

Guest's picture
Guest

Whatever the agitation or insult, you are responsible for your emotions and actions. Road rage is immature behavior and nothing more than adding fuel to a dangerous situation.

Guest's picture
Guest

Mikey thank you for writing this article. I can tell you are caring and a good driver who doesn't like people who don't drive the right way. I am just like you. I am a courteous driver and I hate other drivers who do what ever they want to do and not drive the right way.

Guest's picture
Guest

People that cause road rage do have very severe mental issues which they need help very bad. There is No reason to tailgate when there is a passing lane on the left which many people do it on purpose to begin with. It is just too bad that we Don't have enough police on the road to look out for these trouble makers before more innocent people get hurt bad over this.

Guest's picture
Timothy

You are critical of bicycles taking up a full lane, but when a lane is "substandard" (usually classified as 14' or less), it isn't safe for cars to share the lane with them. By taking the lane, the cyclist is informing the motorists that they need to change lanes to pass safely. Most lanes are less then 14' anyway, but even with 14' lanes, there are situations in which the cyclist must move away from the edge, such as when going around parked cars, when there is glass on the street, when a street drain goes out into the street, and many other things. What is your rush? It takes only a few seconds to pass a bicycle and about half the time, the bicycle will catch you at the next stop sign or light anyway.

Guest's picture
Guest

I think I can explain #8... Essentially, it's other drivers using your blinkers against you. It's been observed when you use your blinker, it cues the other drivers that 'you want to do something' or 'something is desirable', and so they speed up and jam in from behind...seemingly so you can't have 'it'. Up until the past few years, I've used my blinkers to the letter of driving (DMV) rules...yeah, don't follow that anymore...it's been making driving more difficult. I don't know WTF is wrong with people...when they see that blinker...they're like "floor it!" Hence, we now have the 2-second pre-blinker, or the 'after-the-turn/lane-change' blinker.

My most 'jacked up' experience is, I checked the lane I wanted to go to, absolutely no one was in it, I put my blinker on because someone (a biker) was behind me, as soon as I start to change lanes the person behind floors it from behind into the lane in which I'm transitioning, we nearly collide, and then I get the mouthed 'FU' and finger... Seriously, WTF is wrong with people??? Having enough of this BS, I've since invested in 360 vehicle video cam coverage anytime I'm driving...as 'it' is only a matter of time...

Guest's picture
gloria

people that don't merge!!! they stay in the lane till it runs out, without regard to other cars. sometimes they stop. they never try to move to the proper lane. sometimes i think they don't know what the word means.

Guest's picture
Guest

Many very mentally disturbed drivers nowadays are on the road more than ever unfortunately.