Road Rage in Canada: Staying Safe Around Reckless Drivers


When you think of road rage, you might think of extreme videos of deranged people attacking other drivers on the road; but there’s a lot more to it than that.

Anger behind the wheel manifests itself in many ways; and far more frequently as small, impulsive and inconsiderate driving decisions like tailgating, honking at or intentionally cutting off other drivers.

These behaviours put everyone on the road at risk; there are also serious financial consequences for reckless drivers, as well as potential criminal charges. Drivers, especially new drivers, need to know how to recognize the signs of road rage and how to handle it—as well as how to control their own behaviour when emotions are running high.


How To Recognize Reckless Drivers On The Road

Before a road rage incident escalates to the point of confronting another driver or damaging someone’s vehicle, a reckless driver will likely demonstrate many small-but-dangerous behaviours.

If you notice another driver doing any of the following, it’s important to practice cooperative driving by keeping a watchful eye and a cool head:

  • speeding; weaving in and out of slow-moving traffic

  • yelling or making hostile hand gestures at another driver

  • honking to show annoyance

  • tailgating another driver to force them to speed up

  • trying to block another vehicle from entering your lane

  • cutting off another vehicle on purpose

You may think that speeding, honking or tailgating aren’t that big of a deal, but other drivers can be affected by what you do; some will shrug it off while others won’t. Don’t be the straw that breaks the camel's back—one inconsiderate action when a driver is having a bad day can provoke an over-the-top reaction.


How To Stay Safe Around Reckless Drivers

Driving responsibly and courteously is the key to avoiding a road rage incident. Of course, there are times when all the courtesy in the world won’t protect you from idiots on the road, which is where cooperative driving comes in.

Cooperative driving is a set of driving skills that allows you to defend yourself against possible collisions caused by intoxicated or reckless drivers, or poor weather conditions. A well-established, reputable driving school can help new drivers develop cooperative driving skills.

To minimize the risk posed by reckless drivers, do the following:

  1. Be tolerant and forgiving. Just as you would hope another driver would forgive you for making a mistake, forgive other drivers for causing minor, unintentional inconveniences.

  2. If you make a mistake while driving, indicate that you’re sorry (acknowledging that you made a mistake goes a long way to de-escalating anger on the road).

  3. Don’t return aggression; don’t “teach lessons” to reckless drivers or try to prevent them from “getting ahead” via bad behaviour.

  4. Keep your distance from reckless drivers. If a driver wants to play stupid games while piloting two tonnes of glass and steel, you’re better off staying far away from them.

  5. Above all else, don’t offend. Treat other drivers the way you want to be treated; use your turn signal, don’t cut other drivers off, don’t “camp” in the passing lane, let others in, etc.

To minimize the risk of being a reckless driver, make sure you plan your route in advance or use a GPS (some of the most erratic driving occurs when a driver is lost) and leave earlier than you think you need to (the stress of being late can make you overreact to things that wouldn’t normally bother you).


Consequences Of Road Rage

Reckless behaviour on the road can lead to a collision, putting everyone’s safety at risk. Besides a collision, unsafe driving behaviours like speeding could earn you a pile of costly traffic tickets.

Aggressive or careless driving will result in a substantial increase to your insurance rate, or you could become uninsurable.

New drivers must be especially cautious, not only because they could lose their licence if convicted of careless driving, but also because they are still developing the skills they need to stay safe on the road. To strengthen their safe driving skills, novice drivers are encouraged to complete drivers education courses designed specifically for new drivers.

Contact DriveWise to learn more, or to register for an upcoming drivers ed course.