Conference Proceeding

On the Fast Lane to Road Rage

  • Frank A Drews (University of Utah, Salt Lake City)
  • Timothy L Strayer (University of Utah, Salt Lake City)


Aggressive driving and road rage are increasing. The factors that trigger road rage are not well understood. The first goal of this study was to identify conditions likely to lead to aggressive driving/road rage. The second goal was to develop a paradigm that allows for the controlled study of road rage in the laboratory setting. A total of forty-five drivers participated in the study. Twenty-three drivers received non-contingent instructions that emphasized safely driving to a rest stop. The remaining drivers received contingent instructions that added a $10 monetary incentive if they arrived at the rest stop in the top 50% of all drivers. Participants drove in two scenarios (regular / irregular flow) in a high fidelity driving simulator. We recorded cardiovascular reactivity while driving, and measured driving-related anger after completing each scenario. Overall, the driving task evoked minimal changes in blood pressure. However, an incentive by gender interaction for systolic blood pressure (SBP) reactivity indicated that males in the contingent incentive condition displayed greater SBP responses than males in the noncontingent incentive condition or females in the contingent incentive condition. Contingent versus non-contingent incentives had no effect on females’ SBP response. We found no effect of incentive or traffic flow on anger, though analysis on an individual level indicated that some subjects were affected by the manipulation of driving condition. The present findings provide psychophysiological evidence that driving under time pressure and in irregular traffic flow may contribute to the genesis of road rage.

How to Cite:

Drews, F. & Strayer, T., (2003) “On the Fast Lane to Road Rage”, Driving Assessment Conference 2(2003), 194-198. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2003 the authors

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Published on
23 Jul 2003
Peer Reviewed