What Is Considered Road Rage?

December 4, 2023 | Ed Bernstein
What Is Considered Road Rage?

When a motorist gets mad and reacts in an angry way that distracts from the duty of safe driving, their actions may qualify as road rage.

When road rage contributes to an accident, you can hold the enraged motorist or insurer financially responsible for a victim’s damages. Like any car accident case, you must prove that an angry driver caused your accident to secure the compensation you deserve—a Las Vegas car accident attorney will help with this pursuit.

Specific Examples of Road Rage

What Is Considered Road Rage

Road rage can qualify, at the least, as distracted driving. This is true because, in every case, a driver who engages in road rage focuses less on safe driving than they should.

Some of the most obvious examples of road rage include:

  • Turning one’s head to stare down someone they are angry with
  • Taking a hand off the wheel to gesture towards another party
  • Screaming at another motorist, which may require the person to take their eyes off the road and become emotionally compromised
  • Intentionally tailgating another motorist (which may happen if the angry driver feels the motorist ahead has cut them off)
  • Intentionally cutting in front of another motorist (which may be a form of retaliation)
  • Honking excessively, which can cause alarm in other motorists 

In some cases, road rage can escalate into physical alterations. This may be the case when:

  • A motorist rams their vehicle into another vehicle or pedestrian
  • A motorist gets out of their vehicle to physically confront another motorist
  • A motorist leaves their vehicle to strike another vehicle or another motorist physically
  • A passenger in a vehicle engages in a physical confrontation over a driving-related incident

While most people understand the urge to gesture in frustration or engage in other forms of road rage, it is difficult to understand those who engage in physical violence. However, most have seen in-person incidents or videos of extreme road rage.

No form of road rage is acceptable. While many instances of road rage (like screaming briefly at someone who cuts you off) can pass without causing harm, many instances result in accidents, physical assaults, and other harmful events.

In What Situations Are Road Rage Most Likely to Occur?

While a motorist can become angry in virtually any situation, there are common circumstances that pose a foreseeable risk of road rage. Someone may need to exercise restraint to avoid road rage when:

They Are in a Traffic Jam

In What Situations Are Road Rage Most Likely to Occur

Traffic jams can be a source of anger because:

  • Nobody enjoys delays while driving
  • A traffic jam can cause someone to be late for an important event
  • Many traffic jams are the result of avoidable behavior, like rubbernecking (and those stuck in a jam may be aware that other motorists are causing the slowdown)
  • Motorists may cut others off, drive on the shoulder, and engage in other dangerous behaviors while in a traffic situation

The fact that vehicles in a traffic jam are already bumper to bumper can increase the risk of road rage-related collisions. Furthermore, an enraged motorist may get out of their vehicle and confront another motorist if they feel aggrieved. These factors make traffic jams high-risk road-rage situations.

They See Another Motorist Do Something Unsafe (Even If It Doesn’t Directly Affect Them)

Many understand that a motorist who poses a risk to one motorist poses a risk to all motorists. Therefore, when someone sees another motorist weaving through traffic, cutting another motorist off, or engaging in other behaviors, they may become angry at the sight.

Even if the unsafe motorist does not directly affect them, some motorists become enraged (and may even act on that rage in one or more ways.)

An Unsafe Motorist Does Something That Directly Affects Them

The most likely catalyst for road rage is when someone directly affects you through reckless action.

Such action may include:

  • Cutting you off
  • Drifting in their line as to almost strike your vehicle
  • Tailgating behind you
  • Running a red light or stop sign in front of you
  • Engaging in any other dangerous behavior that can foreseeably cause a collision with your vehicle

It is understandable to be angry when someone endangers you. However, it is critical that motorists not place themselves at further risk by engaging in road rage.

Poor Road Conditions

Many roads throughout the United States are dangerous—not because of drivers, but because of road conditions. Motorists may become frustrated when driving on such roads, so the slightest error by another motorist may spark a road rage incident.

Poor road conditions include:

  • Potholes
  • Uneven pavement (which may catch on a vehicle’s wheel)
  • Concrete barriers close to the road
  • Construction zones close to the road
  • Downed or defective signage (like stop signs and yield signs)
  • Defective traffic lights
  • Confusing intersections

While motorists are typically responsible for their road rage, a municipality may be liable for dangerous road conditions.

Are Certain People More Likely to Commit Road Rage?

The motorists most likely to express road rage and the factors most likely to produce it include:

Are a Young Male

While it is never acceptable to assume someone will act a certain way because of their demographic information, the APA notes that young males are statistically more likely to engage in road rage.

This may result from high levels of testosterone, impulsivity, and emotional volatility that many young men experience.

Life Stress

The APA also notes that those with high degrees of stress may be more likely to snap. Such stress may come from:

  • Financial hardship
  • Family problems
  • Work insecurity
  • Medical problems 

Stress is common among the American population, and it is an extreme danger when a motorist allows unrelated stress to become road rage.

Impairment by Alcohol or Drugs

Alcohol and drugs can exacerbate someone’s underlying anger (or perhaps create anger that was not otherwise present). Therefore, an impaired motorist may be more likely to engage in road rage than a sober, measured motorist.

Personality Disorders

If someone has a personality disorder that predisposes them to anger or emotional volatility, they may pose a higher-than-average risk of road rage.

They Have Driven for Long Hours

One study suggests that the longer motorists drive, the more likely they will succumb to road rage. Fatigue, frustration with the long hours, and more exposure to upsetting situations may contribute to this finding.

They Begin Driving in an Emotionally Unstable State

When someone gets behind the wheel emotionally compromised, they may be more likely to become enraged.

They Are Running Late 

Those who are running late for something they consider important may be more likely to:

  • Speed
  • Tailgate
  • Cut others off
  • Drive on the shoulder
  • Weave through traffic
  • Run red lights and stop signs
  • Engage in other dangerous behaviors

These motorists may also be less patient and easily frustrated by delays, leading to road rage incidents.

Enraged Drivers Are Responsible for the Consequences of Their Actions

Accidents are the likely outcome of road rage. In severe cases, road rage can lead to physical assaults. In either case, the enraged motorist is responsible for the harm they cause others.

If you are the victim of a road rage accident, always hire a car accident attorney to represent you. These cases are unique in several ways, and having an experienced lawyer on your side can be a great benefit.

Will a Lawyer Represent Me, and Should I Hire a Lawyer?

If you are the victim of a traffic accident, an attorney will likely represent you. You can confirm this by speaking with law firms representing accident victims in your area.

There are several potential benefits to hiring a lawyer, including:

  • Funding for your claim or lawsuit: When you hire a car accident lawyer, the law firm covers the cost of your case. Otherwise, you will pay out of your pocket to complete the case. A law firm will spare no expense, which often means hiring experts and building the strongest case possible.
  • Freedom to focus on your health: With a lawyer handling your claim or lawsuit, you won’t have to split your attention between your case and your recovery. You can rest and follow your doctor’s treatment plan while your attorney leads your case.
  • A lawyer’s experience: An attorney with relevant experience will know how to complete your case. This will allow for a sound case strategy. Because they know how to draft and file your case, your lawyer will also avoid delays.
  • The potential to take your case to court: If insurers did not offer a fair settlement, can you file a lawsuit against them? For most auto accident victims, the answer is no. When you hire a lawyer, they can file a lawsuit if necessary.

Many victims of road rage believe that a lawyer is more capable of leading a winning case. This is reason alone to consider hiring an attorney and hiring them as soon as possible.

What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?

Car accident attorneys must obtain the compensation their client deserves.

To achieve this goal, a lawyer must typically:

  • Obtain any evidence that supports their client’s case for compensation (which may include eyewitness accounts, a police report, video of the accident, and expert testimony about fault for the collision)
  • Find explicit proof that road rage contributed to the accident (though such proof is not essential to obtain compensation for their client)
  • Document all of their client’s damages (which may be possible with medical bills, images of injuries, evidence of lost income, expert testimony about pain and suffering, and invoices related to property damage)
  • Calculate the exact financial cost of both economic and non-economic damages
  • Complete settlement negotiations
  • Review the best settlement offer with their client, explaining whether or not the offer will cover their accident-related damages
  • Complete a trial, if necessary

When you hire a lawyer, liable insurance companies know the attorney can take your case to trial if necessary. The possibility of trial may ensure that insurance companies negotiate in good faith, as an insurer may be fearful that a jury will award you a large sum of compensation.

Even so, road rage victims do not always receive fair settlement offers from insurers (or civil defense lawyers). If this is true, your attorney will take your case to court.

Can I Afford to Hire a Lawyer?

Car accident attorneys make their services available to all.

They use a contingency fee structure, which means:

  • You will not pay the firm any upfront fee or compensation
  • The firm will be responsible for the cost of completing your case
  • Your lawyer will fight for the entire settlement or verdict you deserve
  • If your attorney secures compensation for you, the firm will receive its agreed-upon fee

Contingency fees come as percentages of the client’s financial recovery. Therefore, your lawyer has great reason to obtain as much money as possible for you.

An Attorney Will Demand Fair Compensation for All of Your Damages

Your lawyer will base their settlement demands on your damages, which may include:

  • Medical bills: This includes the cost of all accident-related medical services and any rehab you require.
  • Property expenses: You may receive compensation for temporary transportation, vehicle repairs, and replacement of other damaged property.
  • Professional harm: This includes but is not limited to lost income and diminished earning power.
  • Pain and suffering: This includes any physical pain, psychological conditions, emotional anguish, scarring, disfigurement, and lost quality of life you suffer because of the accident.

Car accident lawyers also represent clients who lose a loved one because of a traffic accident.

Hire Your Car Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible

Your lawyer will be facing the clock to file your case. Each state has deadlines for filing personal injury lawsuits, and you must give your attorney time to build your case and pursue an insurance settlement first.

Don’t wait to find a qualified personal injury lawyer and hire them to secure the compensation you deserve. They should offer free consultations with no obligations.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today!


Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.