There were almost 20,000 road rage incidents in the UK in 2020. What happens to these individuals or groups?

Approximately 3 minutes reading time

What is Road Rage?

Road rage is a state of mind where an individual feels anger, agitation, and hostility while driving. The term can also be used to describe aggressive or threatening behavior that happens on the road. Road rage generally occurs when someone has a personal conflict with another driver, such as cutting them off in traffic or blocking their progress. It may also happen when they feel they have been inconvenienced by something other drivers have done. Road rage may involve violent behavior such as punching the vehicle, kicking it, or hitting the other driver with an object.

According to police figures, there were 18,605 road rage incidents across Great Britain in 2020, and they have risen since 2012. This is reflected in the number of people prosecuted after committing road rage incidents. The statistics show that between 2016 and 2020, there was a steady increase in the number of people prosecuted for road rage crimes. There were 404 prosecutions for road rage crimes in 2018, and during the same period, there was a 450% increase in this amount. There was also a steady increase in offenses from 2016 to 2020, with 5,763 violations recorded.

Is road rage a criminal offence?

In the UK, road rage is recognized as a specific criminal offense under Section 22 of the Road Traffic Act 2010. As a result, a person can be prosecuted for road rage if they commit one of these offenses:

Aggressive Driving

This is where someone uses their vehicle as a weapon to intimidate or harm another driver. Aggressive driving also includes tailgating and flashing lights to warn other drivers.

Reckless Driving

This is where someone drives their vehicle dangerously and fails to show consideration for other road users. Reckless driving includes speeding, racing, undertaking, swerving, failing to maintain a lane, and ignoring traffic lights.

Assaulting Another Road User

Involves physical attack on another person while they are on the road. The victim must suffer personal injury as a result of this assault. For example, they could be punched, kicked, or have their car windows smashed.

Making Contact

Someone makes contact with a vehicle to scare the driver. This can involve touching a car with your own or using an object to touch it.

Threatening Another Road User

Someone makes threats against another road user while on the road as a means of intimidation. This can be done through gestures and by making eye contact.

In April 2014, the government published a white paper that proposed a series of reforms to criminal law offenses relating to road traffic incidents. The report suggested doing malicious damage to vehicles and other road traffic incidents is a criminal offense. The government also wanted to raise the maximum sentence for such crimes to 10 years in the case of grievous bodily harm or GBH and 15 years in most other cases. It also proposed that it should be possible to prosecute road rage incidents as separate offences if they are considered severe enough.

How should you prevent road rage?

If you're prone to road rage, here are some things you can do to prevent it. For example:

Drive Safely

This includes driving within the speed limit, being courteous, and observing all traffic signs. Try not to cut off other drivers or give them a dirty look if they force you to brake or change lanes.

Avoid Distractions

Give driving your full attention. For example, if you are listening to music, don't play it too loudly so that it will not distract you. Avoid using hand-held devices while driving, and don't drink alcohol or take drugs before getting behind the wheel.

Show Consideration

Be patient and understand that the other drivers on the road have their problems and needs. For example, give way to them when they try to turn into your lane or change lanes in front of you. Please don't cut them off. Don't tailgate, and don't flash your headlights at other drivers.

Insist on Being Courteous

Don't be rude and stop to confront a driver that has cut you up or been stuck in traffic for a long time. Don't use foul language or gestures to show anger and frustration if you think the other driver has obstructed your progress. Instead, show respect when driving and act as an ambassador of good sportsmanship and lawfulness.

Minimise Road Rage

Respect and be courteous to other drivers even if they are rude and aggressive towards you. Try not to get involved in arguments with other drivers, even if you lose out on time or money. Let the courts take care of their problems.

Report Road Rage Incidents

If you see someone in your car doing something dangerous or aggressive or abusing another driver, don't do anything yourself because this may be a crime. Instead, report what you see to the police so that they can take action.


In summary, road rage is a common problem that can lead to severe consequences for both victims and perpetrators. These include damage to property and persons, criminal charges, injury including death, and a negative reputation that may prevent you from getting work in specific sectors, with certain employers, or even seeing you evicted from your home. 

As such, it is vital to be aware of what road rage is and how it affects you and other people on the road. This also includes warning signs so that you will be able to spot them before an incident occurs. If you are aware of those signs and you know how to prevent road rage from happening, you can help keep yourself and others safe on the road.

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