Road rage is all too common among the general public, but it’s absolutely unaccepted for professional drivers—no matter how hectic their schedule or how rushed they may feel.  -  Photo: Canva

Road rage is all too common among the general public, but it’s absolutely unaccepted for professional drivers—no matter how hectic their schedule or how rushed they may feel.

Photo: Canva

Road rage and aggression often lead to deadly consequences on our roads and highways. The cause of road rage is blamed on many things—from an increase in traffic congestion, summer heat, and the stepped-up pace of life to an overall uptick in violence and a breakdown in manners. The increase in the national speed limit has also been cited as a cause.

Whatever the reason, road rage is a continuing problem. The belief that road rage problems are caused by the “other” driver is one reason it is difficult to change through education. Let's take a look at the factors behind our rushed driving that can help ensure drivers don’t fall into this dangerous habit.

Hurry Factors

Talk to your drivers about these possible reasons why they may feel in a hurry while behind the wheel.

  • Poor Planning — If you feel in a rush from the moment you wake up, you’ll be more likely to rush on the road. This problem often stems from poor planning. For instance, you might have chosen to wake up at a time that makes you late to leave for work. You might not have taken care of tasks you could have attended to the night before. Or you might not have checked the weather forecast and didn’t know foul weather was expected, putting you behind schedule as a result.
  • Unrealistic Expectations — If you try to fit as much into your day as possible, you might overcommit yourself by scheduling too many customer appointments in a single day. If you plan your travel time based on ideal conditions — no traffic, no road closures, and no foul weather — then you’re operating under unrealistic expectations. When reality hits, you’ll likely rush behind the wheel in response.
  • Stress — whether personal or professional pressures cause it, stress can wreak havoc on your driving. When you’re stressed you tend to be impatient with others on the road, and that typically leads to rushing.
  • Misconceptions — When you’re running behind schedule, do you find yourself driving faster because you believe you can make up for lost time? That’s a common misconception and one that can lead to crashes. The truth is speeding will not enable you to make up for lost time in your schedule and arrive at your next destination on time.
  • Emotions — Motorists often let their emotions dictate how they drive, and that can have serious consequences.
  • Traffic — In many areas of the U.S., traffic volume continues to increase, and that means it will take longer to get from point A to point B. As roads become more congested, motorists often respond by trying to rush when the traffic finally clears up. If your travels take you along heavily congested roads, you’re more likely to fall behind and mistakenly believe rushing can help you compensate.
  • Road Work — Construction to improve or expand roads can ultimately smooth your way, but while it’s in progress it can slow you down and cause you to rush once you’re clear of the work zone. Avoiding roadwork zones where possible is a good way to minimize delays and avoid the temptation to rush in response.
  • Allowing Insufficient Time — Giving yourself plenty of time to reach your destination is always a safe driving practice, but it’s not always followed. If you cut it close when scheduling your appointments or deciding what time to leave home to start your workday, you’ll be more likely to engage in risky behaviors like speeding, changing lanes abruptly, cutting off other drivers, or tailgating.

What Happens When Drivers Are in a Rush

When you’re in a hurry behind the wheel, you tend to engage in driving behaviors that greatly increase your odds of a crash. For safety’s sake, it’s important to recognize these behaviors and take steps to avoid them.


One of the most dangerous ways drivers respond to feeling rushed is by speeding. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) there have been 102,198 speed-related fatalities from 2012-2021. NHSTA considers a crash to be speeding-related if any driver in the crash was charged with a speeding-related offense or if a police officer indicated that racing, driving too fast for conditions, or exceeding the posted speed limit was a contributing factor in the crash.

When you drive too fast — whether you’re exceeding the posted limit, or you’re within the limit but you haven’t slowed down to compensate for road conditions — you set in motion several dangerous consequences. You need a greater stopping distance and therefore more time to avoid a collision. You’re more likely to lose control of your vehicle. If you crash, the event will be more serious and you’ll sustain more severe injuries or worse.

You Take Chances

When a driver feels rushed, they’re more likely to take chances on the road, sometimes subconsciously. Some common risks that drivers will take include rolling through a stop sign, proceeding through an intersection in anticipation of the light turning green, weaving in and out of lanes to get ahead of other drivers, tailgating, and traveling on the road shoulder.

Remind your drivers that these driving practices place them and others at great risk of a collision — and they won’t make any substantive difference in their schedule or help them to make up lost time.

Here’s some advice to share with your drivers: Never “push” a yellow light. If you must stop, don’t slam on your brakes abruptly as that increases the odds you’ll be struck from behind. Don’t start to roll forward at an intersection because you expect the light is about to turn green. If someone on the crossroad runs the red light — which happens often — you’ll be struck at a 90-degree angle, which is a severe crash.

Also, drivers should never dart in and out of lanes to get ahead or follow another vehicle too closely. For your safety and theirs, stay three seconds behind the driver in front of you on dry roads, or six seconds in the rain.

You Drive Distracted

If a driver’s mind is focused on being in a hurry, it won’t be focused on the driving task. Driving while distracted is a very unsafe practice that causes over 390,000 injuries and nearly 3,500 deaths annually, notes NHTSA. While electronic devices dominate the conversation, mental distraction is just as dangerous behind the wheel. When you’re distracted by thoughts of being rushed, you might not see a stop sign or traffic signal, fail to notice the driver ahead of you has stopped, or do not realize someone is about to pull out in front of you.

Talk to your drivers about techniques and habits that they can use to avoid distractions and stay focused. For example, practicing commentary driving — which involves stating out loud what you’re seeing and doing behind the wheel — can help a driver remain focused. For example, a driver might say, “I’m about to turn into the parking lot on the right” or “The driver ahead of me has his turn signal on and is slowing down.”

In addition, drivers should be reminded to turn off their cell phone ringer and any other audible alerts while driving. Even the sound of an incoming email or text can be distracting. Finally, they should never eat behind the wheel, as it takes one’s eyes, hands, and mind off driving. Even if pressed for time, drivers should take a few minutes to eat while safely parked.

Road Rage

Perhaps the worst possible situation that can arise from a driver feeling rushed is when that hectic, frazzled energy turns into road rage. Road rage is unacceptable for any professional driver; anger and frustration behind the wheel can easily escalate and result in a collision.

It’s critical to remind your drivers to take a deep breath or pull over and take a break if they find themselves getting too hot under the collar. Remind them that confronting another motorist in anger or with the intent to harm them could result in job dismissal.

But when it’s the other driver engaging in this behavior, what should a driver do?

Simply stated, don't take the bait. Never engage in any behaviors that could be viewed as confrontational, such as making eye contact, gesturing, or yelling. Never follow a raging driver or retaliate in any way. Remind your drivers that if they feel their safety is in jeopardy, they should pull over and call 911.

Judie Nuskey is the director of Operations at Advanced Driver Training Services and assists corporations in creating custom driver training programs to lower (or keep low) their crash rates.