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What Not to Do When You're Driving: The Causes of Road Rage

Updated on September 26, 2014
Most of the time when I'm driving, I look like this.
Most of the time when I'm driving, I look like this.

If you notice that you do any of these things, KNOCK IT OFF, YA JAGOFF.

Phew, someone had to say it. And this is far less life-threatening than trying to run you over.

Who are you putting makeup on for, the coroner? JK, but put it away.
Who are you putting makeup on for, the coroner? JK, but put it away. | Source

Road Rage is Never a Good Thing

For work every day, I commute an hour to and from the city of Pittsburgh, using major highways, exits, and bridges in doing so. Even getting there early around 7 am, I can't avoid all the crazy people on the roads that clearly slipped their driving instructors a crisp $20 bill to give them their licenses. They're the ones causing accidents, driving recklessly because they're late, aggressive, impatient, or a dangerous combination of the three. They're also the epitomes of road rage.

Am I a perfect driver all the time? No. Do I display these traits from time to time? Of course, because it's almost impossible to drive somewhere - especially for an hour - and not get frustrated. We're all guilt of getting angry at another driver for whatever reason, but some reasons are more justifiable than others. Not that road rage is ever the answer - not unless the question is "what's a surefire way to make driving worse for everyone and/or get in an accident." There are bad drivers, and then there are road rage drivers. If you're driving, running into both is inevitable.

And it doesn't matter what kinds of roads you're driving on (unless you live in the farmland and you see one person per hour and maybe a tractor and a cow) but there are insane drivers everywhere and I see it every day into the city and then back home to the suburbs.

I don't know about you, but these are the things that bother me the most, and may even coax an expletive or two out of me.

Turning Signals

Unbeknownst to a great number of the driving population, turning signals are a driver's way of alerting to other drivers their intended direction, whether they're turning right or left, or staying straight.

I don't know about anyone else, but I don't know any mind-readers. I must've missed the driving course that develops one's sense of telepathic abilities to determine where others are going when they don't use their turning signals.

If you don't have your signals on, I'm going to safely assume you're not turning, or you're otherwise remaining on the path you have been. Because that's exactly what a lack of turning signals means. At a four-way intersection with nothing but stop signs, the right of way must mean "go when you're tired of waiting" to some people and then attempt to turn but don't indicate it, cutting people off and causing others to slam on their brakes.

This has caused me to get in situations that almost resulted in life-ending accidents. How hard is it to move the stick on the side of the steering wheel up or down? It can actually be the factor that saves a person's life on the road.

Good Tips on How to Use Turning Signals

One of My Biggest Annoyances

When people try to avoid a lane of traffic by driving in the lane next to it, all the way up to the farthest point they can go, and trying to merge over.

There's a special place in Hell for people who do this.

Don't you think we'd all love to skip the traffic that way? Why do you think we're all sitting here, for a longer scenic view? Because we're playing a riveting game of Follow the Leader?

We're not abiding by the traffic rules because we want to. We're abiding because we have to. And that means you, too, buddy. Get in line like the rest of us. There's no force on this earth that would possess me to let you in front of me, and you don't deserve to avoid the traffic anyway.

You were probably the kid who cut the lunch line in elementary school to get the last slice of hot pizza. Curse you.


This is one of the most essential skills a driver can develop and execute when they're learning how to drive. Merging isn't hard, but when people are nervous or anxious or hasty about it, then that's where problems arise.

If you've ever driven on a highway, you've experienced merging. You probably used an exit at one point or another, so that means you had to merge. Or others had to merge to you. Either way, I'm guessing it either went smoothly or you screamed profanity to the driver who couldn't hear you.

As long as you maintain your speed, or the speed of the lane you're merging to, then there's no trouble. And always be aware of where other drivers are.

  • Don't cut people off in a panic because you know your lane is ending in six miles.
  • Don't zip in and out of cars in an effort to get to your destination faster. Seriously, you're just making everyone hate you and you're really not getting anywhere. Back it down, Roadrunner.
  • Don't forget your turning signals. Otherwise everyone thinks you're going straight, or rather, not merging.
  • In construction, wait until the designated merge point if your lane is closed.

Some people feel the need to slam on their brakes when exits merge into highways no matter what position they're in for the merging. They're the cautionary drivers. In my experience, the cautionary drivers are the ones who cause accidents. The ones pumping their brakes like they're giving the car CPR. The ones driving under the speed limit. The ones who are afraid to go through intersections or think that making turns necessitates you bringing your car to a near-stop. Honestly, if you're that worried about driving, you should probably spend more time practicing and less time causing everyone around you to almost wreck.

The agony of merging into heavy traffic.
The agony of merging into heavy traffic. | Source
The caption says, "Photo posed by model. Do not attempt to take a selfie while driving." Isn't it kind of sad that the caption needs to tell people that?
The caption says, "Photo posed by model. Do not attempt to take a selfie while driving." Isn't it kind of sad that the caption needs to tell people that? | Source

Using a Cell Phone

The general rule is, DON'T. Have you not seen the commercials about texting and driving? It's not just a marketing ploy to scare people; texting and driving can truly turn into an irreversible mistake. But this isn't a PSA, because people are still going to do it, so I'm just going to address the reality of it and say only do it when your car is parked, stopped, or if you have someone else in the car do it for you. To be honest, too many people are mentally incapable of performing two tasks at once, and if they're trying to send a text message and operate a moving vehicle, guess which one they prioritize?

I don't know if it's the newer generations (and my saying that makes me sound like I'm way older than I am) and their dependence on technology, but it seems like nine times out of ten when you look at the car next to you, their eyes are in their lap. But it's not fair to pin that on the youth - everyone is guilty of it.

If one more person cuts me off because they were too busy trying to text someone, I'm going to buy a monster truck and run them over. Does this message really need sent that second, when you're going 60+ mph and not looking at the road? Voice recognition is a feature for a reason, guys, use it if you're adamant. Or, you know, god forbid you call the person. Better to have one hand and both eyes on the road than one hand and no eyes. Overall, though, it can wait.

And, oh my god, driving selfies.

When did that become a thing? Because it needs to un-become a thing ASAP. Can you seriously tell me that you look profile-pic-worthy on the highway or when you're going through an intersection? I'm just going to say what everyone else is thinking. You're an idiot.

Not Just Another Texting and Driving Commercial

What's your biggest driving pet peeve?

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Other Little Things

Excessive Honking

Is blasting your horn going to make the standstill traffic move? Because you're just pissing off everyone within earshot your car. If your honking is justified, give one or two beeps. Laying on it isn't necessary, nor is it actually going to solve the problem. The offender knows what they did, Officer Traffic. No need to make everyone else suffer.

Slow Drivers in the Left Lane

It is a universal (actually, mostly just the United States) law that the left-hand lane is the passing lane, which is basically the lane if you want to go faster than the posted speed limit. It is not, under any circumstances, the lane you choose if you want to maintain the speed limit, and certainly not if you go any speed under. Get over, or get run over. (Okay, I laughed.)

Blasting Loud Music

Hey Thug Nasty, turn down your awful bass-thumping music because you're neither in the ghetto, nor are you 50 Cent or Eminem. Especially when you're driving slow in a neighborhood or a shopping plaza or in your mom's minivan. Do you really need to assert your street cred in the parking lot of Kmart? Trust me, no one's impressed.

Letting Your Dog Sit in Your Lap

Do you know how dangerous that is? Why, of all things, do you need your little pint-sized pooch to sit with you to help you steer your car? If that dog starts jumping around or you have to take your eyes off the road to see that Fufu is relieving herself on your pants, you could wreck in an instant. Leave Fufu at home or in a carrier in the backseat. She'll be fine.

Don't be the Reason for Road Rage

I know it's hard, but we as a society need to both stop creating situations that cause road rage, and handle our emotions so that our reactions don't end up as road rage. It's a two-way street (last joke of the article, I promise) and there is no reason why we can't come together as human beings to make traffic and hour-long commutes and driving less horrible for everyone.

In the meantime, listen to well-known comedian Louis C.K. discuss the realities of driving and what it's like to have road rage.

Profane But Hilariously Accurate


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    • Ally Lewis profile imageAUTHOR

      Ally Lewis 

      4 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      Thank you WritinginRichmond! I swear my anxiety levels shoot through the roof every time I get in my car from all the mindless drivers out there! I make sure I'm not a hypocrite too. Makes you wonder, what are people thinking when they're behind the wheel???

    • Ally Lewis profile imageAUTHOR

      Ally Lewis 

      4 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      Right Phillip? How annoying is that?! Thanks for reading!

    • WritingInRichmond profile image


      4 years ago

      My goodness, you are right on so many levels. I put about 150 miles on my car a day; most of it driving outside the Richmond area into northern Virginia along I-95 ... a whole story of it own. It is rare to see blinkers. I’ve started to think people intentionally don’t use their blinkers because they don’t want to tip off the other drivers. I do use my blinkers and I’m continually met with drivers that intentionally speed up to cut me off (sometimes giving me the evil eye). I think your “Other Little Things” list should be a mandatory part of every state driver’s license exam. Good work!

    • PhillipJ profile image

      Jeff Durst 

      4 years ago

      Turn signals are so easy to use. Why oh why do so many people just not get it?

    • Ally Lewis profile imageAUTHOR

      Ally Lewis 

      4 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      Haha thanks Sheila! We probably hit similar traffic every day, come to think of it. I don't know what goes through people's heads when they're driving - it's insanity.

      Can't deny my Pittsburgh roots! I'm always yelling at drivers to get aht of my way. :)

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      All I can say is I'm glad I don't have to drive anywhere near Pittsburgh to get to work. Even with less traffic the way I drive to Cranberry Township, I see the types of drivers you mention every day. I dislike them all. I'd also add those drivers who decide they have to tailgate when the roads are covered with ice and snow. Like they'd ever be able to stop in time if I had to slam on my brakes.

      BTW: Even if I didn't already know where you were from, I'd know it was Pittsburgh when I read "ya jagoff".

    • Ally Lewis profile imageAUTHOR

      Ally Lewis 

      4 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA

      Bill, you're completely right. I knew I couldn't be the only one noticing these annoying things.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I know I'm not imagining things when I say that drivers are infinitely worse today than they were ten years ago. For whatever reason, things like braking at stop signs and using turn signals are being completely ignored...and don't even get me started on those who drive while on the cell phone.


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