A 2016 study by AAA found that nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression, or road rage while driving. Even more concerning is that an estimated 8 million drivers have engaged in extreme examples of road rage, such as ramming another vehicle or attempting to run someone off the road. The majority of drivers who participated in the study noted that road rage has become a bigger problem in recent years and that aggressive drivers pose a serious threat to the safety of those who share the road. If you or a loved one has sustained injures from a vehicle related accident speak with an auto accident attorney today to discuss your options.
What Is Road Rage?
Safe Motorist explains that the term road rage was coined in the 1980s by a local news station in Los Angeles to describe a string of shootings that occurred on the freeways around the city. While road rage and aggressive driving are often used interchangeably, distinctions separate the two. Aggressive driving is the commission of a traffic offense, such as running red lights, passing unsafely, or tailgating. However, road rage is a criminal offense in which a driver commits an offense aimed at endangering another person or property, or commits assault with a motor vehicle or another dangerous weapon against other drivers.
Around 66 percent of all traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving, and 37 percent of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm. The most likely offenders in road rage incidents are males under the age of 19. Half of the drivers who encounter aggressive behavior, such as horn honking, tailgating, or rude gestures, report that they responded with aggressive behavior themselves.
The AAA study revealed millions of drivers participating in aggressive driving or road rage behaviors, including:
- 104 million drivers who admitted to having tailgated
- 95 million drivers who say they have yelled at another driver
- 91 million drivers who have honked to show annoyance or anger
- 67 million drivers who have made angry gestures at other drivers
- 49 million drivers who say they have attempted to block another driver from changing lanes
- 24 million drivers who have deliberately cut someone off in traffic
- 7.6 million drivers who have gotten out of their vehicle to confront another driver
- 5.7 million drivers who have bumped or rammed someone else’s vehicle
The study revealed that male drivers are more than three times more likely than female drivers to get out of their car to confront another driver. Drivers in the Northeast of the U.S. are 30 percent more likely to make an angry gesture while in traffic than those in other parts of the nation. Drivers who engage in other risky behaviors, such as speeding, are more likely to exhibit road rage.
What Causes Road Rage?
As reported by WebMD, more than half of all drivers have experienced a surge of road rage at some point, though not all drivers act on these feelings. There are some common characteristics that—when combined with overcrowded roadways—can transform a common feeling into a dangerous situation.
- Drivers who objectify people. In the safe bubble of the vehicle, many drivers fail to remember that other drivers are real humans with real families who love them, and that the consequences of reckless driving actions may impact those other humans in real ways.
- Drivers who use violence in other parts of their lives. The average road rage offender has raged at least 27 times and is often violent in other parts of his or her life, as well. Domestic violence, for example, increases among drivers who face long commutes.
- Drivers who are annoyed with the behavior of other drivers. Cell phones are a common part of this equation, either with a road rager becoming angry when he or she sees another driver talking on a cell phone, or a verbal confrontation on the cell phone while driving that leads the driver to become irrational with road conditions at the time that the road rage occurs.
- Inability to handle anger. Some people are more skilled at dealing with stressful thoughts and issues while they’re behind the wheel. Others are prone to responses that are immediate and emotional.
- Retaliation. A driver who is cut off or otherwise affected by aggressive driving may respond with a gesture or an aggressive driving tactic of his or her own.
- Being in a hurry. Drivers who are running late often find themselves getting impatient with traffic conditions and angry with other drivers.
How to Prevent Road Rage
According to a post on Smith System, while you can’t completely control the actions of the other drivers around you, there are several things you can do to help keep your own road rage in check while avoiding escalating a tense situation with others. These tips include:
- Don’t tailgate. Allow a cushion of space around your car that not only allows other drivers to maneuver, but also allows you space to get out of harm’s way if confronted by a raging driver.
- Prevent yourself from being in stressful situations that may lead to road rage by allowing yourself enough time to reach your destination, eliminating distractions, avoiding alcohol use as it can enhance feelings of anger, getting sufficient rest, and planning ahead for challenging traffic conditions.
- Be aware of what is going on around you. If you notice a driver exhibiting dangerous behavior, move to another lane, adjust your speed, or take any other actions that are safe and necessary to avoid becoming part of that driver’s dangerous situation.
- Be a courteous driver and obey traffic laws. This means always using your turn signal when changing lanes, not driving with your high beams on, and checking blind spots when changing lanes to avoid cutting anyone off.
- If another driver is behaving aggressively toward you, avoid eye contact and resist the urge to retaliate.
- If you’re concerned about your safety, notify the police of the situation immediately. Many areas have a special number that you can call to report aggressive drivers. Program that number into your phone. Your report should include a description of the vehicle, the license plate number, where you are, and in what direction you’re driving.
If you were in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, call a car accident lawyer for a consultation and case review.