Legal Consequences Of Road Rage
Traffic in the past several years has become more aggressive. Aggression from drivers is just another significant problem on top of other issues that lead to motor vehicle accidents. It is not uncommon to witness or experience an outburst of another driver’s violent behavior while in heavy traffic or during rush hour.
Most people are able to keep their anger under control, with only mild outbursts at worst. But others become so enraged that they intentionally cause an auto accident. While you may think at first that most of these purposeful accidents are due to the driver being under stress, most of these incidents are actually when the individual is not in a hurry. Since 2004, America’s roads have become the scene of road rage more and more. These statistics have not improved over time.
Statistics of Road Rage
Deaths do occur from road rage. Since 2004, accidents and hostile driving behavior attributable to road rage have increased over 100 times. This 1000 percent increase in road rage accidents has led to more than 200 fatalities in traffic accidents, with even more accidents that have resulted in a range of injuries and property damage.
Unfortunately, only fatal statistics of road rage are available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Non-fatal incidents are not reported by the NHTSA. But a recent study reported by the Washington Post indicates that road rage caused 12 percent of accidents in 2013, a 100 percent increase from six percent in 2010. Concern over road rage is only growing, with more studies conducted in recent years to analyze worsening driver behaviors.
Road Rage Defined
Road rage is hostile or violent driving. Road rage drivers are aggressive while behind the wheel of their car, using their car in hazardous ways that often lead to accidents and death. Road rage is a quick escalation of driver anger from manageable rage to extreme violence.
Road rage is different from mere aggressive driving, in that an aggressive driver usually uses high speed and reckless behaviors. An aggressive driver may be ticketed for high speed, running red lights or similar traffic offenses.
A road rage driver is acting out in intentional anger against other drivers purposefully in a criminal manner. A road rage driver does not stop at committing ticketed traffic violations. They actually behave criminally and severely with the potential of being arrested and criminally charged for their behaviors and offenses. Some road rage actions include:
- Wild gesturing and offenses hand signals at others while driving
- Screaming excessively at other drivers
- Physical attacks on others when traffic is stopped
- Following another motorist
- Murder or attempted murder of another driver
- Purposefully running cars off the roadway or causing accidents
Road rage is most often willful and intentional. Although the actions are intentional, most road rage drivers do not foresee their own behaviors leading to a car accident. But the aggression within the driver becomes so intense that he or she may not stop acting with rage until those urges have been satisfied. The most commonly victimized person is usually a driver directly in front of them during a traffic situation, as if the entire blame for the traffic jam or other problem falls on the shoulders of that one driver. Anyone can be targeted, however. When traffic is in motion, road rage drivers often use their vehicle as a weapon.
Independent Study of Road Rage
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a road rage incident study of 10,000 road rage reports. This study reflected that there has been a 50 percent increase in serious accidents due to road rage since 1990. Of the victims, over 60 percent professed that unsafe driving by a road rage driver caused imminent danger to the occupants of their vehicle. Road rage instances have also been shown to be increasing at a steady pace of seven percent per year.
Triggers of Road Rage
In 2013, another study showed that drivers reporting road rage as part of 5600 incidents often referred to common triggers of road rage before incidents worsened. One trigger that causes drivers to lose control through rage includes someone weaving or cutting in front of them. Speed brings out road rage behaviors, as does tailgating behind their vehicle, making a hostile gesture toward them or otherwise doing things that the enraged driver perceives as insulting.
Something done by one driver simply to indicate that another driver is becoming too aggressive can actually lead that aggressive party into an episode of road rage. It is always best to avoid aggressive drivers and to not behave in ways that can enflame a potentially easily enraged person in another vehicle.
Who Drives with Road Rage
Anyone can drive with rage. It is difficult to predict who an enraged driver may be, at face value. People who are otherwise calm and peaceful can even behave dangerously behind the wheel of their car. Things that may contribute to a person becoming a road rage driver include:
- A “bad day”
- Life issues
- Financial pressure
- Relationship problems
- Other feelings of lost control
- Poor impulse control
How to Handle a Road Rage Accident
When an accident occurs due to road rage, the enraged driver is best handled through legal processes. You should never try to deal with a road rage driver on your own, as they have already exhibited poor impulse control and violence. When your accident has been caused by a road rage driver, you need the experienced help of a law firm familiar with state laws and how you can gain compensation for your injuries, property damage and other expenses related to the accident that should not have happened, in the first place.