Road Rage Accidents: A Quick Overview
Heavy traffic and thoughtless drivers can be frustrating. Unfortunately, a growing number of motorists allow their frustration to explode into extreme rage, leading them to engage in aggressive and dangerous behavior that can cause accidents, injury, and death.
The number of fatal car accidents involving enraged drivers has increased by an alarming 850 percent over a 9-year period: from 26 deaths in 2004 to 247 deaths in 2013, according to The Washington Post. And it doesn’t only cause death. Other sources report that road rage resulted in 12,610 injuries over a 7-year period, not counting the psychological trauma it can inflict.
To stop road rage, we need to understand what it is and consider how we can avoid being a victim–or a perpetrator.
How Does Road Rage Happen?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), road rage occurs when a driver “commits moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property; an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger of one motor vehicle on the operator or passengers of another motor vehicle.”
Road rage is distinct from “aggressive driving,” which the NHTSA defines as “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.”
Road rage is thus an extreme form of aggressive driving. Sanctions for the respective actions reflect the difference: Aggressive driving is a traffic violation, whereas road rage is usually a criminal offense.
Examples of Road Rage
The mildest form of road rage usually involves a driver shouting insults or gesticulating angrily at another motorist. In more extreme situations an enraged driver may purposefully:
- cut in front of another vehicle
- follow very closely behind another vehicle (tailgating)
- sharply brake in front of a tailgater
- flash their headlights or use their horn excessively
- follow another motorist while cutting in and out of lanes
- attempt to run another vehicle off the road
- threaten another driver with the vehicle or weapon
How to Avoid Road Rage
The best way to avoid road rage is by practicing safe and courteous driving habits. If you find yourself facing an enraged driver, do not react to the driver’s actions, as this will escalate the situation. Rather, avoid eye contact and try to distance yourself from the driver while continuing to drive safely.
If you find yourself enraged by another driver, remind yourself of the importance of keeping cool behind the wheel. Your safety, as well as everyone around you, depends upon it.
You can also try to think of non-hostile reasons for the other person’s driving errors. Perhaps that person has just learned that their child or spouse has been in an accident or is rushing a pregnant woman to the hospital. Giving that person the benefit of the doubt is far healthier than sinking into a rage.
If you believe you or a loved one has been harmed by a road rage incident, let the skilled personal injury attorneys and lawyers at Lowenthal & Abrams help. Contact us now for a free consultation at 888-979-7298.