Teen Road Rage Issues

By Kristine Tucker
Young teenage driver behind the wheel of a parked car
Young teenage driver behind the wheel of a parked car

Just like adults, some teenagers are guilty of road rage. Road rage occurs when a driver operates a vehicle aggressively and irresponsibly out of anger or frustration at other drivers, passengers or pedestrians. Teens who are emotionally outraged might accelerate rapidly, tailgate, refuse to brake, yell, swear, flash their lights, throw items out of the car or chase other vehicles. This type of dangerous driving behavior can lead to car crashes and physical assaults. In some states, teen and adult road rage can be prosecuted as assault and battery or vehicular homicide if a driver, passenger or pedestrian is killed, according to AlertID, a neighborhood social network.

Immaturity and Lack of Self-Control

Teenagers don't always handle tense driving situations responsibly. "Immaturity and the adolescent propensity for risk-taking, such as speeding, tailgating, text messaging while driving and cutting off other drivers, puts other motorists in danger," says Dr. Richard Schieber, a child-injury specialist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Teenagers don't always have the self-control or self-discipline to focus on responsible driving habits when they're agitated or emotionally engaged in aggressive driving situations. Teenage mood swings can lead to automobile crashes, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. For example, in May 2014, the California Highway Patrol reported that a 17-year-old girl ran over a 13-year-old boy because he threw a water bottle at her SUV, according to an article at KCRA.com in Sacramento, California.

Disengaged or Uninvolved Parents

Parents often neglect to set a good example for their teenage children by driving recklessly themselves and engaging in road rage. Some teens grow up thinking that being angry and aggressive behind the wheel is the norm. Other parents neglect to set and enforce ground rules, such as taking away teen driving privileges when their children drive irresponsibly and respond to driving situations with anger or refuse to follow the laws of the road. Parents should discourage their children from driving when they are tired or upset, or at any time they are more likely to engage in destructive driving behavior, according to Healthychildren.org.

Physical Altercations Outside Vehicles

Teenagers who experience road rage might engage in fights, physical altercations, assaults, and even shootings, outside of their vehicles. Road rage can lead to dangerous, even lethal, activity once teen motorists pull over and get out of their cars. For example, according to Fox 8 in Cleveland, an 18-year-old was shot to death after engaging in road rage with another young motorist. After stopping their vehicles and engaging in verbal assaults, a driver of one vehicle shot the driver of the other.

Negative Affects of Peer Pressure

Teenagers, especially boys, participate in road rage to show off for their peers, attempting to prove that they're skilled, confident drivers who won't let other motorists take advantage of them. Even though peer pressure is a normal part of adolescence, some teens overestimate their driving abilities and allow peer pressure to dictate their driving habits, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Some teens engage in aggressive, angry, conflict-ridden driving behavior to fit in with peers who exhibit the same destructive behavior.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.