Most drivers have found themselves getting worked up at someone else’s behaviour.
Whether it’s being cut up by a dangerous overtake or held up by a Sunday driver, there are moments where it’s tempting to vent our anger with a rude word or blast of the horn but doing so leaves drivers at risk of falling foul of the law.
Road rage isn’t specifically a crime and although there is an offence of “furious and wanton driving”, offenders are far more likely to be charged with a public order or careless driving offence, which can carry hefty penalties.
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Rule 147 of the Highway Code states: “Do not allow yourself to become agitated or involved if someone is behaving badly on the road. This will only make a situation worse. Pull over, calm down and, when you feel relaxed, continue your journey.”
And with more drivers getting back into their cars and the prospect of a busy bank holiday on the roads, it’s important to keep your cool and avoid falling into any of these road rage traps:
Making a rude hand gesture
Expressing your anger by making a rude hand gesture could see you sanctioned under the Public Order Act 1986 and you could be handed a fine, a caution or even find yourself in court.
Not being in full control of your vehicle, for example if you take your hands off the wheel to aggressively gesture at someone, is also an offence under the Road Traffic Act 1991 and you could be fined £1,000 and given three penalty points on your licence.
Shouting or swearing
Another road rage standard that’s covered by the Public Order Act 1986, which states that it is an offence to use threatening words or behaviour towards another person where it is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
This includes displaying and shouting abuse at another motorist in a car and could see you fined, given a caution, or you could end up in court.
Tailgating - failing to keep a safe distance to a vehicle in front of you - is not only dangerous but regarded by police as careless driving. The standard penalty for that is a £100 fine and three points on your licence but in more serious incidents the case can go to court where you face a possible driving ban and fine of up to £2,500.
Beeping your horn
If you’re prone to beeping your horn in annoyance, you could fall foul of the law. The Highway Code states: “Use only while your vehicle is moving and you need to warn other road users of your presence.” It must never be used to signal your anger. If found to be using your horn without good reason, you could be fined £30.
Graham Conway, general manager of Select Car Leasing, commented: “We would always encourage anyone to try to remain as calm as possible behind the wheel and observe the laws of the road.
“With the highways and byways getting busier and busier there’s many examples of situations that can cause stress and even anger.
“While it can be hard on occasion to not react to situations such as being cut up in traffic or someone not indicating, the best course of action is always to take a deep breath and carry on as normal.
“If you do find your blood pressure rising while you are driving, think about pulling over and taking a few minutes to calm down before resuming your journey.”