According to a survey conducted by the Washington Post, nearly a third of all American drivers believe that road rage and aggressive drivers are the biggest threat to their safety while on the road. Sometimes, road rage can result in car accidents or other types of injuries. If someone’s road rage or aggressive driving caused your wreck, you may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, and medical expenses.
Although it can be difficult to remain calm when provoked by an aggressive driver, always maintain your composure to not escalate the situation and further endanger yourself and others on the road. According to the National Safety Council, more than half of all road rage victims responded to the initial aggressor with aggression themselves.
What Is The Difference?
Aggressive driving is a traffic offense that has been defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as a combination of traffic offenses that can threaten the safety of others. Road rage tends to be more violent and physical than aggressive driving, but both can result in injuries and fatalities. Examples of aggressive driving include:
- Cutting off other drivers
- Driving on the shoulder, median, or sidewalk
- Failing to obey traffic signs
- Frequent lane changes without using a turn signal
- Passing other vehicles where prohibited
- Tailgating and following too closely
In many cases, aggressive driving escalates into road rage. The National Safety Council has defined road rage as the physical assault of another driver that occurs as a result of a traffic incident. Road rage is considered more serious than aggressive driving, and can result in criminal sanctions. This happens when a driver retaliates for some perceived action of another driver on the road. Some common examples of road rage include:
- Using one’s vehicle as a weapon to inflict physical harm on another driver or their property
- Tailgating and following too closely
- Honking or repeatedly flashing one’s headlights
- Yelling rude comments at another driver
- Using offensive hand gestures toward another driver or pedestrian
- Cutting off another vehicle, then stopping abruptly, and causing an accident
According to the National Safety Council, young males are more likely to exhibit road rage than other demographics, and well over one-third of all road rage incidents involve firearms.
How to Avoid Being a Victim of Road Rage
Remember that many road rage accidents occur when a driver overreacts to something, so don’t give other drivers a reason to become aggressive towards you. Never assume that you understand the mental state of another driver.
- Keep all car doors locked and close your windows
- Do not make rude gestures at other drivers
- Never flash your lights at other drivers
- Avoid making prolonged eye contact with other motorists
- Never get out of your car and approach another driver on the road
- If you feel threatened by someone, call the police or drive to the nearest police station
- Never tailgate another driver
- If you see two other drivers engaging in aggressive behavior, but you are not involved, call the police and make a report anyway
- If you become angry at another driver, diffuse the situation as soon as possible by putting on soothing music, mouthing an apology, or allowing them room to pass you
Tips To Stay Calm And Safe Behind The Wheel
Surveys reveal that nine out of ten drivers believe that aggressive drivers pose a serious threat to their safety. And research shows they have every reason to be fearful. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), speeding, tailgating, and other aggressive behaviors are a factor in more than half of fatal car accidents. What begins with one driver cutting another off or preventing them from merging becomes a dangerous battle of wills that ends with life-changing consequences.
Fortunately, road rage accidents are preventable. The following are some tips from AAA to stay calm and safe behind the wheel.
Be a Courteous Driver
Certain bad driving habits can enrage the most even-keeled drivers. Tailgating, cutting other cars off, and driving slowly in the passing lane tend to provoke already impatient or frustrated drivers. Be aware of your surroundings, take your time, and give your vehicle and those around you plenty of space. Making the choice to be a calm and courteous driver every day is the first step to preventing aggressive driving accidents.
Do not Engage with Aggressive Drivers
Angry drivers are easy to spot. They can be seen weaving in and out of traffic, riding the bumper of the car in front of them, or making obscene gestures at other vehicles. Every driver has surely felt the urge to retaliate against a rude, impatient, or reckless driver. But you can diffuse the situation by refusing to engage.
Avoid all physical and verbal contact with aggressive drivers. Even just making eye contact can turn a fleeting interaction into a personal confrontation. Slow down and allow dangerous drivers to pass. If you believe a reckless driver may be danger to themselves or anyone else, pull out of traffic safely and contact the police.
Adopt a New Attitude
When you realize that aggressive driving takes thousands of lives every year in the United States, you realize that mindful driving makes sense. Forget about “winning” against a reckless driver. Your life is more important than proving to another driver that you are right.
Knowing that you have plenty of time to get to your destination can put your mind at ease. Leave a bit earlier for added peace of mind. Make driving more enjoyable by listing to your favorite music or audio book. If you have difficulty controlling your anger, takes steps to get help. Stress-reduction techniques and anger management therapy can enhance not just your morning commute, but every aspect of your health and well-being.
When all else fails, try putting yourself in the other driver’s shoes. They may be rushing to visit a sick family member or comforting a crying baby in the back seat. With a bit of empathy, patience, and courtesy, aggressive driving accidents and the devastation they cause can be prevented.
Being on the other end of an unpredictable and belligerent driver can be a frightening experience. Even when you refuse to engage, some aggressive drivers are just looking for a fight – or an accident. Columbia car accident lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. work on your behalf to hold negligent drivers accountable for the pain, suffering, and medical expenses you are facing after a motor vehicle accident. Your lawyer will review every detail of your accident and gather all the evidence necessary to prove your claim and recover the compensation deserve for your injuries.
South Carolina Car Accident Lawyers at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. Represent Victims of Road Rage and Aggressive Driving
If you have been injured in an accident and believe that aggressive driving or road rage was a factor, our experienced car accident lawyers in York County at Chappell Smith & Arden, P.A. can help. Call us today at 803-929-3600 or contact us online to set up a free, confidential consultation. With six locations, we represent injured victims and their families in Lexington County, Richland County, Sumter County, Aiken County, Florence County, Lancaster County, York County, Orangeburg County, Kershaw County, and Newberry County, as well as the towns of Columbia, Lexington, Irmo, Chapin, Rock Hill, Aiken, Sumter, Newberry, Florence, and Spartanburg, and throughout South Carolina.