Rhody Road Rage: RI has found a pothole-sized niche to excel in

Photo by Brandon Doran.

The headlights in my rearview mirror are blinding. The truck behind me hugs my bumper like a needy toddler. The lights begin to flash, causing me temporary blindness. The small squeak from the truck’s horn makes me laugh; it’s such a big truck. I can see the driver screaming from behind the wheel. I begin to think there really is an angry two-year-old driving. In this competition of gear shift stick size, he wants to be the winner, which means I must be the loser. He swerves angrily to the right of me. Now, I’m angry. I select a small bird to show him from my fingers. He doesn’t like the bird. Now he’s very, very angry. He begins to drift into my lane, forcing me off the road. I slam on the brakes, just barely missing the ditch. What did he win? An open road. What did I lose? I almost lost my life.

Rhode Island drivers are the worst. That’s not just the opinion of this author, we are ranked as the number one worst drivers in the country. According to a 2023 Lending Tree article, RI recorded the most driving incidents at 51.33 incidents per 1,000 people. This includes accidents, DUIs, speeding-related incidents, and citations. Meanwhile, despite an average of 493 annual deaths in RI being attributable to excessive alcohol use, RI, surprisingly, does not have the highest DUI rates. California and North Carolina hold that title.

Road rage stabbings and shootings are on the rise. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, an analysis of gun violence found that a person was shot and killed, or injured, in a road rage incident every 17 hours, on average, during 2021. In an April 2022 report on road rage shootings, the Gun Violence Archive’s database found that more than 500 people were shot, or killed by a gun, in over 700 incidents. That makes an average of 44 people per month, double the pre-pandemic average.

According to Forbes, the state with the most confrontational drivers is Arizona, an open carry state. Recently, an Arizona man, Eric Manson, experienced a road rage incident with Rael Croft. The altercation began with both individuals yelling at each other from their cars, until Manson told Croft to meet him at the QuickTrip because he “had something” for them. Croft and his wife followed Manson to the store and the altercation escalated. Manson punched Croft in the face and then Croft shot Manson. Manson later died as a result of his injuries.

When it comes to having the most confrontational drivers, RI placed second. According to Forbes, RI drivers tied with drivers from Alabama and Illinois for being most likely to report another driver has tried to block their car from changing lanes. RI drivers were also most likely to report that another driver has yelled at them, insulted them, or made threats, and most likely to experience honks of frustration.

RI drivers were the second most likely to report that another driver has exited their vehicle to yell at or fight with them, and also the second most likely to experience rude or offensive gestures while driving. Additionally, RI drivers were third most likely to report that another driver has cut them off on purpose. Having driven the roads of RI, this seems extremely accurate.

So why the rage, little Rhody? As Americans are still recovering from the pandemic, they are dealing with posttraumatic stress that most aren’t even aware of. In a study of 200 people, CBS News stated that money was the number one stressor, followed by politics, social media negativity, and being overworked. We are on edge and looking for control. When we can’t find control, it makes us emotionally unstable, and for many Ocean Staters, very angry.


  • Slow down. Let aggressive drivers pass you.
  • Try not to engage in conflict with other drivers, especially ones that are antagonizing you or others. Just get away from them.
  • Adjust your driving attitude. Give other people the benefit of the doubt, and avoid driving while angry.
  • Report dangerous, erratic, or impaired drivers by calling 911 from your mobile phone. Provide your location, a description of the vehicle, and the license plate number. Remember to pull over to use your cell phone.
  • Get to know the members of your community. The best way to keep each other safe is by knowing one another, rather than thinking of each other as enemies. Driving is a way to get from one place to another. It’s not worth your life to tell someone they’re bad at it.