Anytime drivers let their emotions get the best of them, they could be endangering themselves and everyone else on the road around them. Aggressive driving is a common symptom of drivers who are frustrated while on the road. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, aggressive driving occurs when a person endangers other people or their property by committing a combination of traffic violations.
An extreme form of aggressive driving is known as road rage, which is where the emotionally-charged driver assaults another driver with his or her vehicle or even with a weapon, based on some incident that occurred on the roadway. Under California law, road rage is a specific crime of its own that can result in license suspension of up to one year.
Criminal penalties are not the only possible consequences of road rage. Acts of aggressive driving and road rage can result in motor vehicle accidents with severe injuries or fatalities.
Look out for Signs of Road Rage
Aggressive drivers put the lives of motorists and passengers on the roadway at risk for dangerous injuries or even death. According to the Insurance Information Institute, over half of fatal crashes from occurring from 2003-2007 involved aggressive driving. Other studies show that road rage is attributed to seven million motor vehicle accidents yearly. The following are some common signs of road rage and aggressive driving to look out for and avoid while on the roadways.
Excessive speed can be a sign of road rage. In all cases, speeding is dangerous and causes one-third of all traffic fatalities. If you see someone clearly speeding, make sure to attempt to avoid them if possible.
All of us have had someone follow us too closely on the roadways. Only six percent of the population readily admits to tailgating others, but this is a common occurrence and the cause of many vehicle accidents.
Changing Lanes or Weaving
Rapidly changing lanes in a careless or reckless way is dangerous to other drivers. Changing lanes or weaving in and out of traffic is a definite sign of road rage and can cause catastrophic injuries and death.
Gesturing, Honking, Yelling, Leering/Staring
Many people get frustrated behind the wheel of a car. Honking can not only be a symptom of road rage, but it can also cause road rage in others. Making vulgar or aggressive gestures to other drivers has gotten people stabbed, beaten, and shot on numerous occasions throughout the U.S Yelling at others is also another sign of road rage. Even if the other driver cannot hear you, they can see you acting in an aggressive manner towards them, which can cause a physical altercation. Finally, even just leering or staring at someone in an aggressive way at a while at a stoplight or driving in traffic can escalate an already stressful traffic situation. If you ever see anyone behaving in these ways, it is best to avoid them if possible.
You may think you are teaching a tailgater a lesson by suddenly braking and making them stop quickly. However, braking unexpectedly can cause the person tailgating to become even more confrontational and lead to even more aggressive behavior from them.
Unfortunately, many instances of road rage escalate to the point where a gun, knife or other weapon is used. In an infamous incident, actor Jack Nicholson incited road rage by attacking a person who cut him off in traffic with a golf club. Oftentimes, the vehicle itself can be used as a weapon against others.
So what should you do in a Road Rage situation?
Some people suffer from an inability to express themselves appropriately, and the results can be dangerous and even deadly to those around them. Road rage is just one of many ways that a person can endanger others on the road, and it’s common for serious injury to occur as a result. Though it may be scary to see or encounter, it’s important to know what to do if you find yourself in a situation that involves road rage.
Stick to the Driving Rules of The Road
The best thing you can do to keep yourself safe and prevent yourself from facing potential liability is to adhere to all the road rules that you learned in driver’s education. Though we often drive less technically than we were taught, it’s best to revert to textbook driving habits when encountering a person with road rage. This means moving from the passing or fast lane into the right lane, signaling properly, going the speed limit, and being aware of your surroundings. Most road rage issues happen on the highway in the passing lane, so moving over often allows the enraged driver to move past, leaving you in relative safety. If you aren’t on a highway and it’s safe to do so, pull over to the side of the road and let the person pass. If the driving was significantly reckless, it’s appropriate to call 911.
Try Not to React To Their Rage
It’s human nature to want to react when someone isn’t following the rules. Many people want the offending party to know what they’ve done wrong, and in a driving situation, that’s a very bad idea. Don’t try to cut the enraged person off or block them from doing what they’re doing. There is little to no sense involved when a person is engaging in aggressive driving, and trying to teach them a lesson or stop them only puts you at risk. Road rage can easily turn fatal, and it’s not worth your life or anyone else’s to prove a point. Reactions or retaliations can also prompt further violence. An enraged driver may drive on and leave you alone; if you try to engage them, they may try to cause you harm. There are many documented cases of road rage leading to the use of firearms and pistols. It’s better to keep yourself as uninvolved as you can.
Though it’s easier said than done, the best thing you can do when faced with a driver with road rage is to remain calm. Calm decisions are often rooted in safety and logic and will allow you to prioritize your safety over any other motivation or emotion that may arise. Though it may seem like it, the road rage isn’t personal. The driver is taking out their anger upon others on the road, and the best thing you can do is not let it bother you.
Stay Aware and Cautious
Though you need to continue driving safely, it is also necessary to be aware of the enraged driver’s location on the road. If they’ve pulled ahead of you, note the color of their car and the license plate if you are able. Being aware of their position can help you make early decisions that keep you out of their cross hairs. If you are in a residential area, it may be best to look for an alternative route or make a stop in a safe parking lot or driveway to ensure that you won’t encounter the driver again. This is also a time to call the authorities if necessary.
Don’t Go Home If They Are Tailing You
If you are near your home or work and cannot get away from the driver, avoid going directly to your destination. In extreme cases, road rage can lead to retaliation by stalking, trespassing, or delayed violence. It’s best to use utmost precaution and not lead the driver to any place that you frequently visit. In cases where you feel unsafe to go home or work, it’s especially important to contact the police.
If you’ve been a victim of road rage, talk to a personal injury Attorney for compensation.
Despite your best efforts, road rage can still cause accidents. People who have suffered injuries at the hands of someone else’s aggressive driving should attempt to hold them legally accountable for their actions.
Easton & Easton has a high payout rate, meaning that it’s likely that you’ll receive compensation for damages incurred in the accident. Don’t wait, the sooner you contact us, the more we can do for you.
Contact the personal injury lawyers with Easton & Easton at 800-461-8259 or online today to discuss how our legal team can help you determine your next steps to receive the compensation you deserve.