Car accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers, according to a 2008 study reported in the journal "Pediatrics." In addition to driving under the influence and driving while distracted, road rage is a major cause of teenage motor vehicle accidents, according to the study. A teen’s inability to control his emotions can turn into road rage that leads to erratic driving, speeding and collisions. Help your teenager cope with anger behind the wheel.
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A teenager’s immaturity and personal history can lead to incidents of road rage, characterized by the American Automobile Association as driving erratically with the intent to cause another driver mental or physical harm. Children who grow up watching their parents drive aggressively, for example, might be more likely to experience road rage when they become drivers, according to Leon James, professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii in “What Causes Road Rage,” a 2011 article for SouthSource. The American Academy of Pediatrics also notes that peer pressure, moodiness and the tendency to show off when driving -- particularly with other teenage passengers in the car -- can also lead teens to take aggressive actions behind the wheel, such as tailgating, speeding or making dangerous lane changes.
Incidents of road rage can lead to increased car accidents for inexperienced teenage drivers. Beginning drivers -- many of whom only received six hours of behind-the-wheel training through a driver’s education class -- are less likely to safely control a vehicle at high speeds and successfully deal with driving hazards, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. An angry and heightened emotional state while driving with road rage can also put teen drivers in high-risk driving conditions that can lead to motor vehicle accidents.
Parents can help teenagers stay safe behind the wheel by discussing the dangers of road rage. Discuss strategies to stay calm on the road, such as pulling safely off the road until the anger abates, listening to calming music or taking deep breaths. Teens can also reduce road rage by allowing for more time to reach a destination or imagining a rational reason why another driver is driving erratically -- such as rushing to the hospital or trying to calm a crying baby -- instead of reacting angrily, according to AAA.
If your teenager continues to struggle with road rage even after you’ve attempted to diffuse his hostility behind the wheel, consult a school counselor, physician or therapist to determine if there’s a deeper root to the problem. For example, drivers who repeatedly display angry and violent incidents of road rage might suffer from a condition known as intermittent explosive disorder, according to MayoClinic.com. In these instances, a trained professional can develop a program that might involve medications or therapy to help your teenager minimize his violent outbursts.