Recent news reports have indicated that the shooting death of former NFL Player, Will Smith, may have been linked to an incident of road rage. Regardless of whether or not road rage is ultimately implicated in this case, the incident brings more focus to the serious impact of anger behind the wheel. According to scientists, road rage could stem from an abnormality in the brain and it may even be classified as a mental disorder.

Road rage can be considered in an official manifestation of a psychiatric disorder classified as Intermittent Explosive Disorder, IED. It refers to a condition where the individuals impacted by impulsive, problematic, recurrent and aggressive outbursts. Although it’s unclear to this point how much road rage is related to IED, it is certainly one kind of outburst that an individual impacted by IED may have. IED is not always the cause of road rage, however.

What makes IED different from someone just getting upset behind the wheel is because the individual impacted by IED will respond to a typical situation with aggression that is far out of proportion with the actual situation. Road rage behind the wheel can contribute to devastating car accidents. If you spot another driver in California who appears to be impacted by road rage, it is in your best interests to disengage from the situation. If the driver is harassing you, take the opportunity to pull off the road for a few moments and allow him or her to move on.

Do not attempt to inflame the situation any further by communicating with the driver. You cannot predict the behavior of other people but you can protect yourself significantly by pulling off the road, if necessary, to avoid being near this driver or allowing him or her to pass you. Your ability to keep the situation from escalating could save your life.