Road Rage – what causes it and how you can decrease it


With the recent NRMA survey of 1200 Australian showing 31% of adults have experienced a road rage incident in the last month (ref 1), we need to ask WHY?

Why is the lucky country losing its patience on the motor ways? What is making the average Joe snap and want to kill someone simply because they were cut off in traffic?

These extreme emotions can only be due to one thing and that is stress.


Stress for both sexes, working and non-working Australians is becoming our greatest endemic behind obesity as a health issue.

Stress is a normal experience and state of being for people. But too much stress and not enough active lowering of our stress levels in between bouts, then BOOM – it’s like tipping fuel on a fire, or angry on the roads!

With the surge of hormones that accompany stress, people can experience, anxiety, out of body sensations, dizziness, high blood pressure and they can lose control and yell and rave. Often the speed with which this surge kicks in, shocks people and there isn’t time to self-edit and stop it.

Interestingly a small amount of stress getting in to drive your car is good. The driver needs to be “awareness mode” and not “relaxed mode”.


BUT when the driver starts thinking about running late, the day’s deadlines or if there are distractions in the car, the driver’s stress levels can sky-rocket in seconds and lead to a road rage incident.

The stress response is normal and people just need to be aware of what their levels are in certain situations. If it creeps too high they need strategies to lower it.

The hormones involved with the stress response, cortisol, adrenaline, testosterone are all associated with other diseases such as heart disease, stroke, infertility and insomnia. The roads are a perfect training ground for people to learn to manage them better.

These are 5 tips for managing Road Rage:

  1. Set realistic driving times BEFORE embarking on your journey. Call ahead if you are running late, don’t try to make up for lost time
  2. Practising calming breathing techniques when stuck in traffic
  3. Turn frustrating travel into rewarding travel by using audios, playing games with the kids
  4. Focus on the immediate road in front (try not to think about all the other activities you have to do with your day)
  5. Drive with courtesy. Do unto other drivers as you would like to be treated. Courtesy goes a long way to making the roads a friendlier, less stressed environment.

Ref 1: