Picture this -- you're driving and another driver's behavior makes you angry. You might yell, honk or curse or even try and get that driver's attention. While this behavior is risky for an experienced driver, just think of how dangerous road rage can be for an inexperienced teen driver. Teen road rage is fairly prevalent -- a survey conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found that 55 percent of teens had witnessed road rage in one of their peers. It's risky behavior that could result in losing privileges, injury and even death.
Losing control of one's emotions on the road can have dire consequences. People who experience road rage can allow feelings of anger to affect their behavior behind the wheel, driving aggressively or making poor choices. The result could be anything from getting pulled over by law enforcement to causing an accident, injury or death. In fact, a study by AAA found that aggressive driving was a factor in 56 percent of car accidents between 2003 and 2007.
As a parent, you can set your own consequences for your teen when and if he loses control of his temper behind the wheel. Taking away driving privileges might be necessary until your teen learns to be more responsible and in control of his emotions behind the wheel.
A teen experiencing road rage isn't just driving aggressively -- he's actively losing his temper and perhaps looking to use the car as a weapon against another driver. The American Psychological Associations outlines some of the other risky behavior exhibited by someone experiencing road rage, including making riskier decisions on the road, engaging in hostile thinking, acting impulsively and ultimately, causing more accidents than a calm driver. Not only do these behaviors take your teen's attention from the road, but they could also incur the wrath of other aggressive drivers, escalating the issue and causing serious problems for themselves and other drivers on the road.
Think twice before you allow your teen to take a carful of his friends the next time he drives -- a study published in a 2011 issue of Journal of Adolescent Health found that peer influence increases the chance for accidents, particularly with teen male drivers (ref 4). The study found that peers could promote risky behavior, leading to poor decisions. When it comes to road rage, your teen's emotions may be heightened by peer influence in the car -- friends urging him to honk his horn or cut off another driver, for instance.
Of course, parental influence can make a difference in how your teen reacts to road issues. If you commonly experience road rage, it's likely that your teen will mirror those habits, believing them to be a normal part of driving.
It's important that you teach your teen to deal with his emotions on the road to avoid the negative consequences of road rage. DMV.org -- above all -- that drivers simply try to avoid other aggressive drivers. If someone is tailgating your teen, instruct him to pull over and let the aggressive driver pass. It's also a good idea to tell your teen to pull over and cool off if he starts to feel angry toward another driver.
If your bad habits have led your teen to think road rage is normal and acceptable, check your own driving skills. Obeying the rules of the road and avoiding other aggressive drivers can help you stay calm and teach your teen to do the same.