Road Rage Literature

Road Rage Literature

There has been a steady increase in the number of road rage cases being reported. Several countries have observed a sharp increase in the intensity and severity of road rage incidences. Authorities in the field of criminology have developed interest in the issue and have set out to investigate the reason or causes behind the increase in road rage cases. Apparently, the interest in this issue is not new. There are numerous studies that have been documented on the same issue. The paper that follows will do a review of the published literature on this case and propose a way forward.

Garase (2006) defines road rage as risk factor for motor vehicle accidents that is brought about by drivers who engage in extreme aggressive driving behaviors. Road rage is manifested when a driver attempts to or actually injures or kills another pedestrian, motorist, or passenger, in response to altercation, traffic dispute, or a grievance. There are numerous causes of road rage and these may include flashing, horn honking, tailgating, obscene gestures, and verbal abuses (). Numerous road accidents, deaths, and violence outbreaks have been attributed to road rage. These unnecessary accidents and deaths have contributed to a build-up of interest in the subject with experts in the field documenting the causes and remedial measures that can be approached in scaling down the cases of road rage related fatalities and accidents.

According to Sansone, R & Sansone A, (2010) about of one third of the citizens interviewed in their study have committed road rage at least once in their life. Shockingly, most of these perpetrators are young and male. The study also found out that the causes of road rage includes Axis I and II psychiatric disorders, psychological factors, and environmental factors. According to this study, 32 percent of the persons interviewed admitted to have shouted at another driver while another 2% admitted to have actually damaged another motorist’s car.

A look at factors that contribute to road rage indicate that environmental factors which include driving for many miles, traffic density, carrying a fire arm, and busy roads are the leading causes of aggressive driving which leads to road rage. Individuals suffering from axis I and II disorders were also found prone to engage in road rage incidents. Some of these individuals suffering from depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder reported high probability of engaging in road rage incidents.

Another study conducted in Pakistan by Shaikh, M., Shaikh, I., & Siddiqui (2012) revealed that there were grave consequences associated with road rage. They argue that an incident that might start with a simple rude gesture might escalate in serious damages or fatalities. However, unlike in the western countries, the majority of road rage cases in Pakistan are primarily expressed through rude gestures. This study aimed at studying the road rage behaviors and experiences of commercial drivers. The data used in the study was administered via structured questionnaires that had a set of open ended and closed questions. The study tested different parameters that the researchers felt would be contributing to the formation of road rage behavior. These included the age of the respondent, their educational levels, and the type of road rage that they have engaged in. The results indicated that almost 74% of the respondents had less than 5 years of formal schooling. Additionally, the study found out that most of the perpetrators were young male drivers and they mostly engaged in expressions such as rude gestures and verbal attacks.

Crimmins & Callahan (2003) give their contribution to the discussion by proposing some of the ways by which the road rage menace can be reduced. The authors of this study agree with the findings of the other authors, which show that education level, gender, and age impose a strong effect on the menace of road rage. A suggestion has also been proposed which suggests that external factors such as feelings of frustrations, powerlessness and pressure lead to road rage. Additionally, the authors argue that the expression of road rage is a gross violation of expected behavior and a breach of the expected social conduct.

According to Crimmins, & Callahan (2003), road rage cannot be reduced by merely reducing traffic congestion. The authors argue that traffic congestion is not the sole contributory factor that leads to road rage. Matter of fact, human behavior, which is influenced by human values, is the main cause of road rage. Crimmins and Callahan suggest that programs targeting young male drivers need to devised and applied in addressing the uncouth behaviors displayed in the roads by this segment of the population.  In conclusion, research has revealed that those engaged in road rage are not afraid of the law; otherwise they would have desisted from the menace. An alternative remedial measure, which seeks to associate road rage with social disapproval, is suggested (Crimmins, & Callahan, 2003). Such a remedial measure is found to be appropriate because it deters individuals from engaging in what is considered an antisocial behavior.



Crimmins, J., & Callahan, C. (2003). Reducing Road Rage: The Role of Target Insight in Advertising for Social Change. Journal Of Advertising Research43(4), 381-389.

Garase, M. L. (2006). Road Rage. New York: LFB Scholarly.

Sansone, R., & Sansone, L. (2010). Road rage: what’s driving it?. Psychiatry (1550-5952)7(7), 14-17.

Shaikh, M., Shaikh, I., & Siddiqui, Z. (2012). Road rage and road traffic accidents among commercial vehicle drivers in Lahore, Pakistan. Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal = La Revue De Santé De La Méditerranée Orientale = Al-Majallah Al-Ṣiḥḥīyah Li-Sharq Al-Mutawassiṭ18(4), 402-405.


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