Road rage: a psychiatric phenomenon?

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2001 Jun;36(6):277-86. doi: 10.1007/s001270170045.


Background: Road rage is a concept recently popularised by the press. An association with psychiatric illness is implied from reports of such drivers being "mad". Previous literature has demonstrated a link between road traffic accidents and mental illness. This study examines the relationship between road rage and psychiatric morbidity. It aims to estimate the prevalence of road rage by self-report and elucidate demographic and psychiatric factors associated with road rage.

Method: This is a cross-sectional study of attendees at general practice clinics that examines self-reported road rage and psychiatric morbidity. Assessment was based on the total score on the Clinical Interview Schedule (revised version; CIS-R), Aggression Questionnaire, Screening Test for Comorbid Personality Disorders, Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test and Life Events Schedule.

Results: Fifty-three percent of 131 subjects reported a recent incident of road rage. Perpetrator and victim groups differed from controls. Perpetrators had increased aggression scores and psychiatric morbidity. There was a strong association with male sex and illicit drug use, and a strong negative association with driving experience. A weaker association was found with youth. Victims showed increased psychiatric morbidity and were more likely than perpetrators to seek help for emotional problems. Life events stress, social class, alcohol use and personality disorder had no significant effect.

Conclusion: There is an association between road rage and psychiatric morbidity.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • London / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data*