Psychologists Explain The Cause Of Aggressive Driving

It’s a no-brainer that a lot of people, including you, experience an uncomfortable moment when driving. There is the incident of being stuck in heavy traffic, seeing people not using pedestrian lanes and an encounter with jaywalkers.  But the most unfortunate moment is having an issue with those people who feel entitled to do whatever they want on the road. These people are what we call aggressive drivers. We all know that they are way too unpredictable. However, what causes their behavior? Let’s try to understand how psychologists explain the inappropriateness towards these people’s way of driving.


Several definitions can support the meaning of aggressive driving. With that, the specifications may vary from one person’s point of view to the other. However, in general terms, reckless or aggressive driving is a person’s behavior that intends to cause other people harm. These include physical and psychological. The whole idea of the action relates to its intentionality. But it is also necessary to recognize the difference between aggressive driving to “just bad” driving habits. All aggressive driving is considered a bad driving habit. However, not all of those “bad” driving practices relate to reckless driving.

Different Behaviors Of Aggressive Driving

Using The Horn Excessively – You will agree that there are times when you can’t control the situation, so you feel uneasy. You begin to develop stress and anger because you can’t do something about a particular incident on the road. As a result, you become irritable and soon realize that you are using the horn excessively.

Weaving In And Out Of Traffic – It some cases, twisting in and out of traffic is not often an offense. However, cutting off other motorist and swerving between different lanes is dangerous and sometimes unacceptable. That is because there are people who try hard to squeeze their vehicles into tiny gaps.

Tailgating – Once or twice in your life, you already experienced or at least tried to tailgate. Perhaps the reason is to prevent other vehicles from cutting in front of them. As a result, either the driver on the car in front of you won’t slow down and won’t compromise in maintaining a constant speed.


Yelling – There is no secret that you are guilty of this. Well, yelling doesn’t necessarily mean that you are trying to burst out and shout in front of people. There are cases that you are in a gray area where you yell inside the car even if you know there is no other driver that is ever going to hear from you.

Rude Gestures – In stressful situations, particularly on the road, there are times that rude gestures are inevitable. Some of these are raising a middle finger in the air and showing a fist to another vehicle driver. Those are indications that things will not end in a quiet and well-maintained conversation.

Contributor And Reasons For Aggressive Driving

Anonymity – One misconception about becoming an aggressive driver is anonymity. It is where a person believes that he will not get caught because there is too much stuff on the road. There is this idea that there are no consequences of showing aggression. Emil Coccaro, MD, said, “You’re in a car, and it’s kind of a weapon, and you’re in a protected environment, and you think no one’s going to be able to get to you.” The act associates in more risk-taking behavior that often increases the possibility of a rude and unworthy response from one or both persons involved.

Stressors – You already know that driving can be so stressful. That is one of the triggering factors of aggressive driving. Usually, it happens when you experience something at home or at work that keeps on lingering in your head. It is where you can’t seem to focus driving and soon end up irritable. As a result of an imbalance emotional and mental state, you begin to drop your mindfulness. With that, the only thing that will keep you going is your desire to release your feelings and thoughts regardless if it is on a negative approach. Robert Nemerovski, PsyD, wrote, “We are seeking to make the other driver ‘know’ how we feel, to accept what he or she did wrong, and to validate our negative emotional experience.”


RecklessnessReckless driving is somewhat the same as aggressive driving. However, the reckless driving style becomes different because it has no intention of harming others. Usually, it is just a considerable harmful habit that supports high-sensation seeking actions. These include driving fast or taking corners quickly. It is where the drivers use it as a way to experience a sense of excitement.

In all honesty, when it comes to driving, the balance of the mental and emotional aspects is essential. Jerry Deffenbacher, PhD, wrote that “the good news is that we can do something about [road rage].” As a vehicle driver, it is your duty and responsibility to take care of yourself and follow regulations for your safety. Therefore, before you end up becoming an aggressive motorist, make sure you know the ways of properly handling your emotions, gestures, and thoughts.