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Can Road Rage Cause Car Accidents?

April 15, 2024Articles

Reckless driving presents a significant danger to the driver and others on the road, but when intense anger and impatience fuel reckless driving, the danger increases substantially. Verbal abuse, threats, horn-honking, and other signs of road rage are warning signs of a driver who is out of control. When a motorist operates a vehicle in a state of extreme anger, the risks of accidental or purposeful collisions increase, as does the risk of physical confrontation and gun violence.

What Makes a Driver Prone to Road Rage?

Psychological researchers identified key differences in drivers who self-identified as angry and easily irritated drivers compared to those who identified as low-key drivers. Drivers who are likely to engage in road rage behaviors are different in the following important ways:

  • Their thinking is more hostile toward others on the road, often with revenge goals for perceived wrongs
  • High-anger drivers are more likely to exceed the speed limit by 10-20 miles per hour, switch lanes frequently, enter an intersection as a light turns red, and tailgate slower drivers
  • Drivers with high-anger driving behaviors are more likely to engage in personal attacks against other drivers such as horn-honking, yelling, and making rude gestures
  • High-anger drivers become easily angered by the driving errors of others and feel anger at other drivers in congested traffic conditions even when other drivers are not cutting them off or committing infractions
  • In driving simulations, self-identified high-anger drivers had twice as many accidents as drivers who identified as low-key or relaxed drivers

Some high-anger drivers report feeling angry while entering their vehicles even before encountering traffic. In general, they display anger more often in other situations as well as during driving and may behave impulsively. Road rage behaviors are signs of underlying problems such as stress, anxiety, and mental health conditions.

What Road Rage Behaviors Cause Accidents

Encountering an angry driver yelling, honking, and making rude gestures in traffic is intimidating for any motorist, but those behaviors alone do not typically result in car accidents. When a driver with road rage drives recklessly or aggressively out of anger, it sometimes results in dangerous driving behaviors such as the following:


  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Brake-checking (getting in front of another vehicle and repeatedly hitting the brakes)
  • Weaving through traffic and making unsafe lane changes
  • Intentionally bumping or ramming other vehicles
  • Chasing another vehicle when a driver attempts to evade an aggressive driver

Traffic experts and psychologists agree that it’s best to find a safe space to move over and let an aggressive driver exhibiting road rage behavior pass rather than speeding up to evade them. Some drivers make the mistake of responding to road rage behavior by driving recklessly to avoid the angry driver, increasing the chances of an accident, especially if the encounter becomes a car chase.

While a driver should never speed or drive recklessly to avoid an angry driver, it’s never safe to pull over and allow a physical confrontation. In 2022, there were 141 tragic deaths from shootings during road rage incidents. Road rage driving accidents cause around 1,800 car accident injuries each year.