Feb 20, 2019 Last Updated 3:19 PM, Oct 3, 2017
Published in IGOTHIT.COM

We have probably all seen it before while traveling (or been a part of it); a driver cutting off numerous drivers, riding their bumpers, honking and screaming unheard obscenities as they speed pass you. Many people consider this to be “road rage”. However, this type of driving might be better defined as aggressive driving. There is a major difference between these two; aggressive driving is a traffic offense, while road rage is a criminal offense.

Defining Road Rage

Understanding and knowing the definition of road rage is important for many auto accident cases. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) defines road rage as “an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator of one motor vehicle on the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle.”

The American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation defines road rage as “violent anger caused by the stress and frustration involved in driving a motor vehicle — a motorist’s uncontrolled anger that is usually provoked by another motorist’s irritating act and is expressed in aggressive or violent behavior with an intention to cause physical harm.”

Finally, the AAA states that the two most common causes of road rage are being in a hurry and traffic.

The Dangers of Road Rage and Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving occurs when a motorist is traveling 15 mph over the speed limit, running a red light or stop sign, tailgating, erratic lane changing, and illegal passing. According to AAA’s 2013 survey, these actions are a factor in up to 56 percent of fatal crashes.

40% of drivers who get into accidents are either distracted, scared, or angered by other aggressive drivers. 52% of drivers surveyed feel that they have been “disrespected” one way or another while driving.

A few other statistics to consider: 

  • 50% of people who experience aggressive driving behavior respond in kind. The most common forms of response are:
    • Honking the horn (37%)
    • Yelling and complaining (27%)
    • Making an obscene gesture (19%)
    • Flashing the headlights (17%)
    • Begin driving aggressively (7%)
    • Attempt to run the other driver off the road (2%)
  • Guns have been involved in 37% of aggressive driving cases.
  • Out of 10,000 road-rage incidents committed over a seven-year span, there were 218 deaths and 12,610 injuries recorded.
  • Men make-up 54% of the aggressive drivers.
  • Young drivers from 18 to 24 drive two times more aggressively.
  • Drivers with children will usually respond in a like manner to other aggressive drivers,
  • Smartphone users are much more likely drive aggressively. 

When drivers explained why they became violent, the reasons were often minor ranging from someone braking suddenly or driving too slow to being cut off.

Avoiding Road Rage

AAA offers the following tips to avoid road rage:

  • DO NOT DRIVE OFFENSIVELY. Four acts of driving are usually offend other motorists the most: being cut off, driving slowly (especially in the left lane), tailgating, and obscene gestures.
  • DO NOT ENGAGE. Do your best to avoid aggressive drivers. Don’t make eye contact with them. If you feel physically threatened, drive to a public area where there are plenty of people outside. Honk your horn only for an emergenc
  • DO NOT GET IN A RUSH. As the old adage goes - always plan ahead. Give yourself a few extra minutes when you need to get to work or have an appointment. We tend to drive more aggressively when we are in a hurry to get to our destination.
  • DO NOT TAKE IT PERSONALLY. It is always best not to judge a person on a whim. Ask yourself why that motorist could be driving too fast or zooming from lane to lane. Perhaps they have a medical emergency or have kids screaming for ice cream from the back seat - situations many of us can relate to.
  • If you are feeling stressed while driving, try a few relaxation techniques. List to calming music, an audio book, or practice taking deep breaths.

Road Rage Rising

The numbers of those injured or killed due to aggressive driving and road rage are on the rise. Many experts are at a loss as to why the incidents continue to mount up, but the issue of aggressive driving itself often is due to anger and/or mental disorders.

For example, Intermittent Explosive Disorder [IED] can raise a person’s anger level dramatically within a matter of seconds.Those suffering from IED have a history of angry outbursts that are way out of proportion compared to what situation set them off. Many times, someone is injured or property is damaged. An estimated 7% of the American population suffers from IED. That breaks down down to a possible16 million drivers on our highways. When anger enters the equations, even from the smallest of incidences,the potential for a road rage incident increases greatly. When it comes to IED, less than 3 out of 10 will seek treatment for their disorder. It would seem logical that personal responsibility is vital in preventing such tragic occurrences on the road.

Other factors that could be contributing to the rise in road rage include lack of knowledge and increased traffic.

  • More than 90% of workers drive to their job.
  • 1 out of 3 drivers that live in one of the largest cities in the United States spends over 40 hours per year being stuck in a traffic jam.
  • Because of the extra traffic on the road, AAA estimates a 7% annual increase in the amount of road rage every year.
  • Only 32% of people believe that a public awareness campaign against road rage would actually be effective.
  • 56% of men state that they experience road rage from another driver every day.
  • The percentage of women that said they experience road rage on a daily basis: 44%.
  • No official government agency keeps track of official road rage statistics. Much of this data comes from 1997 or earlier.

For more information, please see the infographic at the end of this post.

A Story from the Road

A tragic incident of road rage occurred in Fort Worth, Texas on June 5 that ended with one man being shot.

According to reports, the driver was traveling with his fiancé when he swerved to avoid a vehicle on the shoulder of the road. In doing so, they cut off a white SUV on the road. Police believe that this incident set off the suspect who was cut off. The suspect followed after the couple and it is reported that he fired several shots into their pickup truck. Two struck the driver, one in the shoulder and another in his back. The fiancé was unharmed in the incident.

At the time this post was written, police were still investigating the matter and searching for information that could lead to the arrest of the driver.

In another incident in New Jersey, a 64 year old man was attacked by a woman while sitting in traffic over the weekend. According to the victim, the suspect approached his car and began yelling at him after accusing him of cutting her off earlier. The woman then punched the man in the face through his open car window before driving off in her Ford Escape.

Reaching Out for Help

The attorneys at Godsey Martin understand the dangers that come from driving, whether they come from aggressive drivers, road rage incidents, or distractions. Whatever the reason, if you have been hit and hurt in an accident, their team is ready to help you sort through your legal options so that you can receive the justice you deserve. Perhaps you just have a few questions about an incident that occurred on the road; they can help answer those questions for you as well.

Simply give them a call at 877-IGOTHIT or contact them for a free consultation via their website.

David Godsey

“After working 8 years as an Insurance Adjuster and Claims Manager, I had a front row seat witnessing how ‘Big Insurance Companies’ took advantage those who made claims. I was involved in a process that was intentionally designed to pay people far less than what they were entitled to under the law. I was trained to prey on the claimant’s inexperience, lack of knowledge, and desire to quickly resolve claims to achieve saving the insurance company millions of dollars on an annual basis. I made people feel as if I was on their side, while simultaneously paying them thousands of dollars less than they should’ve received.

Eventually, I developed a feeling of guilt. I quickly noticed that the victims I came into contact with were more than just claim numbers; they were members of our community that needed a voice to correct the injustices they were enduring on a daily basis. I became committed to being that voice.”


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