Explained: Road Rage & How To Handle It

We’ve all been there – you’re running late, stuck in traffic, your low fuel light came on half a mile after you passed the last petrol station and, to top it off, the driver in front just cut you up to get ahead of you.

Your first instinct might be to censor your own expletive-ridden tirade using the sound of your car’s horn, but we’re here to remind you that when you start seeing red behind the wheel, the best thing to do is find a way to relax.

If road rage has already written off your vehicle, whether you were the victim or the perpetrator, Scrap Car Comparison can take your car or van off your hands and allow you to start fresh with a lump sum of cash in your bank account. We compare offers for your vehicle from scrap and salvage dealers in your local area, presenting you with the best price that the current market can offer. Thanks to our network that offers 99% coverage of the UK, we’ll even be able to arrange for your vehicle to be collected from you at no extra cost! Get a price for your old car today by calling 03333 44 99 50 or by entering your details into our scrap value calculator.

What Is Road Rage?

The term road rage was coined to describe the behaviour of some drivers who fail to stay calm when in control of their vehicle. It can include personal actions like swearing, screaming and other aggressive movements, or it could involve other drivers – likely those that are deemed to have caused the frustration – with the angry party behaving threateningly towards them.

In a lot of road rage incidents, the irritated driver will use their car as a tool to intimidate the victim, whether that’s by tailgating or brake checking them, honking the horn, or in worst case scenarios, physically shunting into them – regardless of a difference in size.

Why Is Road Rage So Common

62% of drivers in the UK claim to experience road rage, but why is this figure so high? What are some of the contributing factors to anger building up when behind the wheel?

Well, driving itself can be a frustrating activity, particularly when the conditions aren’t ideal. Traffic and other delays can irritate drivers, especially those that are in a hurry, which raises another point – these days, almost all drivers seem to be in a hurry. With busy schedules and sat nav ‘estimated arrival times’ interpreted more like targets to beat, modern drivers don’t enjoy being on the road. Longer journeys can also lead to discomfort and even tiredness, which is sure to cause frustration to even the most mellow of car owners.

Driving standards have slipped in recent years, with the police now employing more clandestine tactics to try and catch sloppy drivers out. If you get cut up by a car that doesn’t indicate, or get stuck behind someone who’s dawdling along in the right-hand lane of a motorway, it can be very easy to react with anger.

There’s a phrase that many road users live by: “drive like everybody else is an idiot.” It’s not bad advice if you want to avoid getting caught up in an accident that’s not your fault, but it can lead to a lower estimation of other drivers which in turn, might cause you to get angrier at them than you should.

Perhaps the biggest factor of all though is the location. We’re not talking about the road here, either. When you’re locked inside your car with the window up, it can feel like you’re invincible. You might feel safe enough to insult every Tom, Dick & Harry that slows down to 29 mph in a 30 zone and, if this is the case, you should probably assess your own behaviour before your next journey.

Is Road Rage A Criminal Offence?

Despite the fact that a lot of road rage activities would result in charges in any other environment, the behaviour itself is not a named criminal offence. However, most, if not all, road rage behaviours like tailgating or even staring down a driver that you’re alongside would fall under either careless or dangerous driving.

Further still, simply swearing or making offensive gestures towards other road users might not see you charged with ‘road rage’ specifically, but you could be seen to be committing ‘disorderly conduct’ or going against the Public Order Act 1986!

So in a nutshell, road rage is an offence… kind of.

Can You Press Charges For Road Rage?

Since road rage isn’t a criminal offence in itself, you’d need to be more specific if you wanted to press charges against somebody who has wronged you on the road. Did they breach the Public Order Act? Were they driving dangerously or carelessly? Most importantly, do you have any evidence of this that could be used against them in a court of law? If you believe the answer to those questions is ‘yes’ then you could indeed press charges against the accused party.

How To Report A Road Rage Incident

If you believe you’ve been the victim of or witnessed a genuine road rage incident that needs to be reported, you should contact the police with details of the altercation. In emergency cases, call 999 immediately, otherwise it’s more acceptable to call the police’s non-urgent line on 101. There, you can report the details of the crime that you believe has taken place. It’s important that you have evidence and identifying information, like dashcam footage or witnesses willing to come forward, along with the registration of the vehicle involved.

You can also report any road traffic incidents online using the website for the relevant police force. For example, London’s Met Police can be contacted here, with other forces around the UK having similar pages.

What Can Police Do About Road Rage

While budget limitations are preventing police from properly patrolling our roads, they are still able to attend emergency situations and will also investigate any reported incidents. If there is adequate evidence that an offence has been committed, they can and will charge the offending party.

The limited number of patrol cars that are on the road, either marked or unmarked, will act as a deterrent for some drivers and will pull over, investigate and, if necessary, charge those drivers that have become so enraged that their standard of driving has suffered.

How To Deal With And Calm Your Own Road Rage

We know that Scrap Car Comparison isn’t the go-to place for anger management advice, but there are some tried and tested methods of reducing your own anger levels when you’re raging on the road:

  • Don’t leave it late: Plan your journey in advance and give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. One of the main causes of road rage is the stress of being late – remember, you’re not stuck in traffic, you are the traffic, so shouting and screaming at the people around you is a tad hypocritical…
  • Be more understanding: Not everyone out there is deliberately driving like an imbecile, so don’t always assume that all drivers are behaving the way they are to get your back up. In fact, chances are they don’t even realise that what they’re doing is annoying you, and let’s be honest, there’s a strong chance that it shouldn’t be causing anything more than mild frustration. 
  • One moment in time: Don’t forget that you’re never going to see these people again once they branch off down a different road – ‘no harm, no foul’ is often a good way to think in these situations. Don’t let it ruin your day.

How To Handle & Deal With Someone Else’s Road Rage

What about when the shoe is on the other foot and you can see the driver behind shouting expletives at you through your rear-view mirror?

  • Remove yourself from the situation: It might sound like you’re letting them get away with their childish behaviour, but sometimes the safest thing to do for yourself is to pull over and let the idiot that’s tailgating you go past.
  • Think about your own driving: Without blaming the victim, it’s always important to look at both sides of the story. Was your driving poor in the lead-up to the road rage incident? Perhaps you were too busy singing along with the radio to realise you forgot to indicate four times in a row? The phrase “six of one and half-a-dozen of another” springs to mind…
  • Relax: If a driver around you is getting particularly irate, don’t stoop to their level and begin hurling insults back and forth. It will only escalate the situation.

If you’re ready to scrap your car and don’t want to experience this kind of rage while looking for a good price, you’re in the right place. Scrap Car Comparison will find you the best offers for your car from local Authorised Treatment Facilities and will even arrange for your car or van to be collected and removed at no extra cost. Call 03333 44 99 50 or fill in our scrap car value calculator to find out how much your car could be worth today.

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