134 Road Rage Treatment

Based on research by Deffenbacher, J. L., Filetti, L. B., Lynch, R. S., Dahlen, E. R., & Oetting, E. R. (2002). Galovski, T.E.; Blanchard, E.B.; Malta, L.S.; Freidenberg, B.M. (2003) from the American Psychological Association,  adapted by Juanita N Baker, Ph.D.

What can be done about road rage?

To help drivers with excessive anger stay cool, Psychologist Jerry Deffenbacher taught them either relaxation/deep breathing and coping skills techniques or to change problematic thoughts and shift their perspective about negative events. Both groups practiced these skills to better control their anger while visualizing frustrating driving situations, such as someone cutting them off in traffic. They also practiced these skills when actually driving.

Both interventions were equally effective in curbing road rage yet couldn’t completely eliminate a driver’s anger, but did reduce its frequency and intensity.  Also risky behavior decreased. A year later, people continued to control their anger roughly as they had immediately after treatment.

Dr. Tara Galovski, also designed a cognitive-behavioral therapy for angry drivers that included deep relaxation, stress coping skills, and learning different ways to think about roadway events and stressors. These strategies reduced anger and aggression, both behind the wheel and in general. The treatment group averaged a 64 percent drop in aggressive driving behaviors, and marked reductions in distress and anger. Three months later, they maintained improvements.

If anger is a problem for you, please get therapy for your own and others’ safety.


Deffenbacher, J. L., Filetti, L. B., Lynch, R. S., Dahlen, E. R., & Oetting, E. R. (2002). Cognitive-behavioral treatment of high anger drivers. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 40(8), 895-910. doi:10.1016/S0005-7967(01)00067-5

Galovski, T.E.; Blanchard, E.B.; Malta, L.S.; Freidenberg, B.M. (2003). The psychophysiology of aggressive drivers: comparison to non-aggressive drivers and pre- to post-treatment change following a cognitive-behavioral treatment. Behaviour Research & Therapy, 41(9), 1055.

Galovski, T. E. & Blanchard, E. B. (2004). Road rage: A domain for psychological intervention? Aggression and Violent Behavior: A Review Journal, 9, 105-127.

Galovski, T. E. & Blanchard, E. B. (in press). Psychological treatments of angry and aggressive drivers. In D. A. Hennessy and D. L. Wiesenthal (Eds.), Contemporary Issues in Traffic Research and Road User Safety. Hauppauge, N.Y.: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Galovski, T. E., Malta, L. S., & Blanchard, E. B. (2005). Road Rage: Assessment and Treatment of the Angry, Aggressive Driver. Washington, DC: APA Books.

Road Rage: How to Avoid Aggressive Driving (2013). AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Retrieved from https://www.aaafoundation.org/sites/default/files/RoadRageBrochure.pdf

For more details see:


American Psychological Association, February 2014

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