Why Does Road Rage Happen?

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It’s thought that driving on today’s increasingly busy roads is stressful enough, though road rage can be due to the weather, road repairs, your passengers and obviously, other drivers.

Most of us are able to handle the stress and realise that it is all part of daily driving.

Some people have a low stress thresholds and that’s when road rage is most likely to occur. Studies have suggested that road rage is a behavioural trait, first learned during a child’s formative years when some children see anger being a standard reaction.


Road rage is not in itself, classified as an offence but other actions may occur and render the offender liable to prosecution

Those road-users who just shout and/or make angry gestures towards other road-users aren’t usually likely to end up in court, though they could.

When basic the road rage turns into violence against another road-user, this can be regarded as common assault.


The UK Legal System makes it perfectly clear that these offences will be dealt with in a strict manner and even a custodial sentence could be considered for road-users who lose control their tempers.

The sentence would depend on a number of different contributing factors and there is no cursory approach to the offence.

Generally speaking, common assault is regarded as a very serious offence and can attract a six month sentence.

The sentence given will usually depend on how severe the crime is.

The assault may be serious enough that it can be regarded as actual bodily harm (ABH).

This is widely regarded as a more serious offence than common assault and can carry a sentence of six months in prison.

Actually bodily harm cases can also be tried in the Crown Court, before a Judge who can impose a sentence of up to five years in prison on conviction.


A recent study conducted by a UK National Insurance company revealed some alarming road rage statistics.

1,161 UK drivers were asked to take part and two-thirds admitted the use of threatening behaviour to another road user.

Over three-quarters of those asked also regarded this type of threatening behaviour to be acceptable.

However, legally, this type of threatening behaviour can contravene sections 4 and 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 and so constitute an offence. Such behaviour and the use of verbal insults or abuse are offences under UK Law.

Some people find it extremely difficult to keep control their temper, when subjected to stress on the roads. Drivers should always leave personal anger issues at home and never drive in a competitive manner. Anger can be controlled – losing our temper is something we actually choose to do, whether we realise it or not.

If, as a road-user – driver cyclist or pedestrian, you are subjected to road rage from other road users, you should not react in an equal manner but instead, make a note of the number plate in the event that you want to make a complaint to the police.

Road Rage, like many behavioural issues, is best prevented during the education process – or in this case, during a series of Driving Lessons.

At TRISTAR DRIVING, our client-centred techniques ensure the pupil is involved in all decision making and is encouraged to take ownership of his or her decisions.

Infographic link – Southside Motor Factors


About the Author:

Mike Dawson founded TRISTAR Driving and is a qualified driving instructor who has trained many driving instructors as well as pupils.

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