Written By

"The Traffic Girl"

"The Reality of Road Rage"

Florida roads are hectic to say the least. We have so slow drivers, drivers that drive so slow that even slow drivers get mad. Then we have the Kamikaze Pilot, as Dennis Miller so eloquently calls them. The speeders. These are the ones that pass you aggressively and end up at the same place a couple miles later. We have senior drivers, like in Hallandale were bumper cars is the game of the day. And we have the Teen drivers. Always a highly controversial issue. "is 16 to young to drive?"

I have taken the time to analyze the many types of drivers. Drivers from other countries, drivers from other states, drivers that don't speak English, drivers that can't read, drivers that are experiencing economic stress in their lives. Yuppies, Emotional Drivers, drunk or drugged drivers, the zoned driver and last but not least……the temporarily insane driver. After researching this topic I have come to believe that road rage is a form a temporary insanity. Many of the experts say the same thing. People become so insane that they can't continue on until the relieve themselves. This relief usually comes in the form of aggression.

Certainly, unless you study the subject of traffic, you may not know what to expect from traffic. I am here to tell you. The first note you should make is that aggressive driving and road rage are two different things. One leads to the other. But one cannot exist without the other. For example, You can drive aggressively without getting mad, but its impossible to experience road rage without feeling some form of aggressiveness.

There are many different definitions for road rage. I have come to define this insanity as an act of aggression that stems from a traffic transaction that for some reason or another has caused a driver to become frustrated. I wouldn't call a police chase road rage, or even tailgating road rage (although tailgating could be considered road rage on some occasions), these can be considered aggressive driving. Pushing someone along to get them to speed up. This is the "I would have been home already if it wasn't for you" attitude. It's the person that is being victimized by the aggressive driving in this situation that creates an emotion so strong, that severe action becomes an option. Road rages is when there is an intention to show someone they can't do something that irritates you. The need to show this becomes such a priority that the rager loses track of his/her senses. This person has an acute need to feel justice, revenge, retaliation, or to teach some one a lesson..

Today, no matter where you drive, you need to be conscious. Zoning out is no longer safe. This type of driving is the number one cause of road rage. (Although it can be argued that some psychological reasons may be the cause, but certainly cutting someone off and not knowing it can be an instant trigger.) And being an obstacle or manipulating someone else's driving or getting in their space is no longer an option. We need to be aware. Because today, if you cut off the wrong person, it won't matter if it's by accident.


Here is a list of some of the major causes of road rage. If these are patterns that you are experiencing, you should make changes to your driving experience.

  1. Failing to check your blind spot completely, causing you to slightly cut someone off.
  2. Tailgating (a big one)
  3. Using Your Horn (don't. ever.)
  4. Being in the right hand turning lane but not turning.
  5. Flashing someone with your highbeams
  6. Driving too slow.
  7. Driving to fast
  8. Getting in front of someone and using your brakes
  9. Just braking
  10. When attempting to make a pass
  11. Not using your signal

Let me explain how these thing may cause road rage.

Failing to check the blind spot, although common, is self explanatory. This skill isn't easy. You do have to take your eyes off the road in front of you for seconds in order to do this. Needless to say it is an added effort. We aren't lazy, we are complacent. Regardless, cutting someone off is very offensive and may lead to the "great revenge" Here is a quote from someone who was being tailgated..."911 is this an emergency?"...."Yes...A guy cut me off and so I cut him off and he shot me."

Tailgating. Just plain stupid. In South Florida, 1 in 3 collisions are staged. (Quote by Allstate Insurance). I am sure there is psychological motive behind this. We simply hate obstacles and we hate things to slow us down. This transaction causes the driver in front to feel manipulated and pushed. You can certainly push them to their limit. Be aware. Insurance fraud is a big business, and quite organized. If you knew that 40% of the people on the road are uninsured, and that close to 50% are chemically intoxicated/impaired, would you tailgate them? If you knew the person you were pushing along had a gun, would you push them?

Using your horn is another trigger. It can certainly set someone off. We usually use the horn to wake someone up.....you don't want to wake up a sleeping giant.

Being in the right hand lane at a right on red. Not being in the right lane, when right on red is permissable is a very tricky skill. Or choosing to wait until its clear to make that right takes much consciousness. The intimidator behind will grow rage if you don't move along. This doesn't mean...move along. Keep your eye on them. Keep your phone near. Don't ever be afraid to call 911. I find men have a hard time with this.

Flashing someone with your high beams. This is a no no. A very bad form of communicating. There are some gangs that consider this a draw, a duel, war so to speak. Don't do it. It isn't worth your life. It isn't a big road rage creator. Instead of getting the other driver angry, you get them blind. somewhere in there is revenge.

Driving to Slow. I like slow, but to the right please. Remember, people don't like their driving to be manipulated, they don't like to be slowed down.

Driving to Fast. One of the most offensive, aggressive driving techniques and can lead to tailgating, and cutting people off and using your brakes to slow your vehicle.

Using your brakes is a techinque that does indeed required thought, and conscious decision making. to use your brakes properly and at the appropriate time, you have to be driving at a speed that allows for accurate timing. Here is an example. You are making a pass. You pass, and now you are ready to move back in. Most people use their brakes for this transaction. They do this in order to regain control of their vehicle. If you are using the appropriate speed, then just a release of the accelerator should slow your vehicle down enough. Just remember anytime you use your brakes it will affect the person behind you, who is usually too close to begin with. It's a trigger.

Making a pass is a trigger.....Often times drivers get offended...."what's the matter, I am not driving fast enough for you?" One of the common revenge responses is speeding up, or driving to the left of the center of the lane to block the pass. Both are deadly, and are a form of relief by the person being passed, by the person who is feeling rage. Do you see how the pass may be considered aggressive or offensive, and the act itself can create rage in the other driver. The pass is the trigger.


When we talk about road rage we are talking about 2 groups of victims. The victim that actually catches the road rage spaz and the victim of the road rage. Know them both.

What actually happens when someone catches an attack of road rage? The chemical change in each of us may be different, but certainly there is an common affect on the body physically with reference to a rise in blood pressure. There is also a change in the drivers driving. The statistics show that behavior does indeed become more aggressive. Over confidence and less cautiousness are primary behaviors here. Then actually daring to do something and risk taking that come in the form of action.


Here I have provided some of the reactions we have come up against, simple reactions that can lead to fatalities. The end of life. If you know them, you will know what to look for.

1. The Middle Finger Syndrome. (its used so much we should be able to claim it as a tax deduction)
2. Following You All the Way Home Syndrome. Keep in mind people, these are normal people. People who are just like you and me, for the most part. You have to admit that there have been times that you to have felt so angry or upset that you would like some revenge for relief. There is really no way to tell who is going to lose it.
3. The Getting Out of the Car Syndrome This is when a person is so filled with adrenaline they think they can take a bullet. They are hoping to be challenged. Anybody who gets out of the car, has lost it. Even if it is momentarily. The affects are deadly. And pretty much, it is a roll of the dice.
4. The In Your Face Syndrome. That's when a person thinks they can come right up to your face and suffer no consequence. Its amazing what happens in this situation. People who are in fear for their life will do the craziest things…..Things that can end their lives as they know it.
5. The Throwing Things Syndrome This is one of the quickest ways the rager relieves themselves. Bottles are commonly used for this form of relief.
6. The Cutting You Off Syndrome This is the most common form of road rage there is. This may seem less life threatening. It's not. It's a quick form of relief. Unfortunately, sometimes its doesn't feel good enough, or the rager doesn't feel like their point has been made. It also puts you in a position of liability. Even if they force you to hit them, you still hit them, which is a potential law suit.
7. The Manipulate Your Driving Syndrome This is when the rager uses his ability to control your driving to relieve himself. He will block you in, prevent you from making a lane change or pass, he will get in front of you, he will keep pace with you. Usually until they get involved with another driver, but unfortunately all to many times, they do this until it pisses someone off enough to join the game.
8. The Crow Bar Syndrome This is when they take a crow bar out and hit your hood repeatedly
9. The Need to Shoot SyndromeThis is when the rager takes a gun out and shoots you, often times, not even thinking that they are going to end your life. They just want to scare you so much initially. But the aggression takes over and temporary insanity sets it. And this is a time that you want to definitely have space around you. Enough to escape. And you better know what to do when that time comes. Go to the nearest, most populated place around you, and always carry a cellular phone.
10. The Follow You to Your Next Location to Key Your Car Syndrome. Need I say more. Sometimes, the rager just wants to see that they have made an affect on you. They want you to hurt or feel the same pain that you have inflicted upon them knowingly or unknowingly. Although it is never personal, (because they don't know you) you need to protect yourself. If that means moving over, do it, do it quickly. And just be able to determine when this is happening. You must use incredible judgement when sharing the road.

If there is one I have left out, please let me know. I think the best way to prevent these things from happening to you, is to know that they can happen to you. Once you realize that, that road rage is a reality, you have a better chance to save yourself. And of course, everybody should have a cellular phone. These cell phones are no longer a luxury, but a necessity. You don't have to use it while you are driving. But use it. And it's a lot safer then having a gun and being forced to use it. 911 calls are free.



Here are some helpful hints for you to use to help prevent this from ever happening to you. If you see it coming, you have a better chance of preventing it.
  1. Don't call attention to yourself, ever. You see, you don't "only" have to worry about pissing someone off that your are involved in a transaction with, but you also have worry about someone else who might be watching and just get irritated by the injustice they are seeing.

  2. Watch what is going on around you at all times. Know your driving environment. See where your car is position in reference to each and every car that is near your cushion of space.

  3. Make sure you have a cushion of space. Space gives you time to react, time to make decisions, time to make split second decisions. Space gives you time to make corrections, time to flee, time to handle emergencies. It's all in the timing.

  4. Look what is going on in the cars around you. Watch them carefully. Watch their driving patterns and how they relate to yours.

  5. Don't look into the eyes of another driver. Don't ever make eye contact with other drivers, especially if there is existing aggressive behavior. Don't make anything personal. Remember, it is temporary. This insanity only lasts for moments if it isn't perpetuated.

  6. Don't use your brakes to communicate. When you slow your car down, you need to take your foot off the accelerator. If you need to use your brakes to slow down, then you are driving to fast for the situation. Its all in the timing. One of the main reasons you need to be conscious while you are driving.

  7. Check your blindspots. I mean check them good. If you are afraid to turn your head away from the road then go to an auto store and buy a blindspot mirror. Check your blind spot. This is mistake is common, and if you don't know you did it, then you are also not in a position to protect yourself.

  8. Keep your window up. Don't engage in conversation or have any confrontation with other drivers.

  9. Do not get involved with trucks. Whether you like it or not, it is a no win situation. Today, they are out there and you need to get use to it. Don't buck with a truck. Just let them go.

  10. When being tailgated, let it go. This is where you need to practice self-actualization. Take in oxygen. Everything loves oxygen. Breath. Make the right decision. The best way to deal with a tailgater is slow down. (DON'T USE YOUR BRAKES) All you have to do is take your foot off the accelerator for a second and there you go, you have slowed down. If its possible to change lanes do so, but the actual transaction may piss the person off. So you are better off just encouraging them to pass you, and consciously make the decision to help them along. Its all in the timing.

  11. Make your transactions slow enough to correct them. (and such corrections should be obvious to the other driver)


    Most of us have experienced cutting someone off by accident and happily I report that most of us today have not yet had the experience of someone putting a gun to our heads because we cut them off 4 miles back. And most of us haven't experience someone getting out of the car and beating us. Certainly, however, we have all experienced the l finger hand signal. Most of us have experienced the honking, or the screaming out of vulgarity, and I would venture to say that many of us have experienced the driver in front using there brakes to communicate to us. But as the days progress the situation is becoming worse. And unfortunately as each day progresses your chances of being involved with such a circumstance is increasing.

    It is said that Road Rage is considered the drunk driving of the 90's. I can't imagine what the year 2,000 will bring. The first l5 minutes of each news cast airs the fatal collisions for the day. We are all trying to get somewhere, in our own way and in our own time. And we are starting to lack tolerance because of over population, or economics, family dysfunctions, etc.



    If you are a tailgater, you are at risk. If you are being tailgated, explain to yourself over and over, this is not personal. If you watch the persons action, they most likely will continue to tailgate the next person and the next person. And you should observe.

    Tailgating is the most common aggressive driving transaction. It's as if you were going to arrive somewhere so much earlier by doing this, when in reality, you end up there a little later. The faster you are going, the more obstacles you will encounter. And of course the more obstacles you encounter, the more transactions you will have to make. More importantly, the tailgater is liable to make someone very mad, at which point they force or encourage a confrontation. That is the reality of it all. Not to mention, tailgating can be a very costly experience as well. Especially in Florida. You can not hit another vehicle from behind without being considered the offender. This puts the tailgater at risk of becoming a victim of insurance fraud. Insurance Fraud is a very common occurrence. These are people who purposely set up and engage in collisions where they intentionally cause you to hit them from behind.


    Going with the Flow….Should I or shouldn't I. Some people think you should. As you pear through your rearview mirror, you notice them trying to communicate by screaming at you with their hands. That form of communication is what I call the intimidation factor. Lets say the speed limit is 65, but everybody is going 85. Should you go with the flow, or should you go the speed limit. Going the speed limit may just get you shot, if you don't do it the right way. I think the key word is the "right" way. Stay to the right. So is it possible to achieve avoiding both. Absolutely.

    I have been so curious to know the answer to this question. I have asked myself many times, why is it when we see a drunk driver and they are all over the road, we don't get pissed at them. Why is it that we don't want to beat them or shoot them when we see them. Instead we fear them and speed up as quickly as possible to get around them. (which by the way is not always the best thing to do, staying behind them is safer). But where's the anger. However, when you make a lane change and cut some one off inadvertently, unintentionally, they want to kill you. What is that all about. So because drunk drivers are able to achieve this response, we should be able to.

    First and For most, there must be an absence of attitude. And you must be able to distinguish what forms of communicating with your driving can be interpreted as an attitude. You may have a feeling that you are going the speed limit and you are not going to go any faster, no matter who tries to push you along. That is an attitude. You need to redirect that thought. You need to be conscious of what you are saying. And conscious and knowledgeable of the result of that action. If you are, and you do, then you have a higher chance of remaining uninvolved. If you see some one coming up quickly on you, get out of their way in advance. The secret is seeing them coming. That is when you need to be hugging the rightist part of the road. Give everybody enough room to freely flow around you. People will try to intimidate you.

    You must always be aware of where you are located in reference to other drivers. Are you in their blindspot, are you in there way of making a transaction, like a pass or lane change, are you an obstacle? Adjust your driving to help other drivers along. If someone behind you wants to make a pass or lane change, know it, know it in advance, pay attention, adjust your driving, and if you don't, then the future is less predictable. If you don't help them make the transaction they need to make, they are going to make it anyway, except now you are not in control, and by helping them you remain in control. And there have been many fatal incidences where someone was attempting to make a pass, and the person being passed became irritated enough to speed up, not with the intention of killing someone, but with the intention of teaching them a lesson. These kind of impulses cause fatal technicalities like overcompensation. Lets just say that if you don't let them go, they are going to go anyway, and chances are you will be involved if a collision occurs. This is a preventable situation.


    Give yourself room for mistakes on your part and on the part of the people around you. Give yourself enough space and distance and time to make decisions. The more speed, the more space, the more space, the more time you will have to see potential problems. Just keep the distance. If you knew your brakes were really bad, you would drive like that to protect yourself. That's what you need to do whenever you drive. In order to prevent becoming a victim.


    One can use the holistic approach to curing angry driving patterns. Certainly you can be cured of experiencing that horrible out of control feeling. I approach driving with spirituality. I use empathy mostly to help me deal with unbelievable behavior. I call it the empathetic approach to driving. What if I were them, How would I feel? It helps me adjust my driving. I try to understand as much as I can about people, so that I can enjoy the privilege of driving.


    You will be starting a new journey. A different way of driving. I am here to support you in your efforts to re-evaluating your driving. I will help you in your quest to become informed and educated with regards to traffic laws, and traffic environments, and improved traffic skills.

    You need to be conscious. Consciousness is liberation. If you are going to be free, you need to be awake. When you are awake, there is inherent potential and possibilities. You need to always be prepared for potential dangers.
    Have mace in your car
    Have a cellular phone (charged of course)
    If ever faced with a confrontation. Don't get out of the car. You should be able to see it coming, but if not, just know that space will save you. It will give you room to flee. If you are legally carrying a concealed weapon, don't use it.
    Learn by witnessing. And then teach it. It is for all our eyes to see.

    Drive Carefully!

    "Dying to Drive" Copyright, March 1999.
    This article may not be used without the express authorization by the writer.
    The name "Traffic Girl" and Traffic Ed are Trademarked.

    This page was last revised on May 15th 1999
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