We’ve all seen it…drivers swerving angrily through traffic after being cut off by another car, or worse, two cars pulled off to the side of the road, their drivers fighting. The dangers of road rage are real. You never know who is in another car and you can’t assess another driver’s sanity or motivation for reckless behavior. You’re better off taking a deep breath, slowing down and not provoking these aggressive and reckless drivers.

Road Rage usually involves other traffic violations.

Road rage is typically described as aggressive and careless driving and usually involves a driver becoming so angry over an incident that he overreacts and retaliates with some type of violent behavior. Incidents of road rage often include other traffic offenses including:

  • Speeding
  • Changing lanes recklessly
  • Tailgating
  • Not signaling before changing lanes
  • Disregarding traffic signals

Most states don’t actually have laws formally addressing road rage. Rhode Island is one of the few states that does. The Rhode Island road rage law classifies it as “aggressive driving” and defines it as “operating a motor vehicle in violation of any speed law and a violation of two or more of the following traffic law provisions:

  • obedience to traffic control devices;
  • overtaking on the right;
  • driving within a traffic lane;
  • following too closely–interval between vehicles;
  • yielding right of way;
  • entering the roadway;
  • use of turn signals;
  • relating to school buses, special stops, stop signs and yield signs; and,
  • use of emergency break-down lane for travel.”

What causes Road Rage?

Mental health professionals have an actual name for the kind of rage that goes beyond the speeding, tailgating, honking, or passing on the right that many aggressive drivers regularly do when they drive. People who experience road rage so violent that it leads to an assault against another driver, passenger, or car may be suffering from “intermittent explosive disorder” (IED), according to a report in the June 2006 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. This disorder may affect up to 7 percent of the population, or about 16 million Americans over their lifetimes.

While anyone can become an aggressive driver, some character traits seem to make a person more susceptible to road rage. Experts have cited poor impulse control, erupting in anger far out of proportion to the stress they’re experiencing, mood disorders, anxiety, or substance abuse problems as common traits.

Many cases of road rage occur when people are going through some kind of emotional crisis, such as losing a job or girlfriend, going through a divorce, or suffering from an injury or illness. Often times, road ragers tend to take other drivers’ poor manners personally, which causes them to want to teach the other driver a lesson.

Tips to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Road Rage.

You never know the mental state of the driver next to you, or what they’re capable of doing. It’s important not to engage with drivers displaying aggressive or angry behaviors. Here are a few tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of road rage:

  • Avoid “tailgating” other drivers
  • Avoid provoking other drivers by making eye contact, rude gestures or flashing your lights
  • Don’t ever get out of your car and approach another driver
  • If you think someone may be following you, call the police and drive to the nearest police station or crowded public place
  • Keep all car doors locked and windows closed or only partially open
  • Put your pride in the back seat. Do not challenge drivers by speeding up or trying to prevent them from getting in your lane.

Consequences of Road Rage

Aggressive driving and road rage are causing serious problems on our roads. According to the NHTSA:

  • 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving.
  • 37% of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm.
  • Half of drivers who are on the receiving end of an aggressive behavior, such as horn honking, a rude gesture, or tailgating admit to responding with aggressive behavior themselves.
  • Over a seven-year period, 218 murders and 12,610 injuries were attributed to road rage.

Studies by AAA have shown that aggressive drivers often do not have full control of their vehicles, making it difficult for them to maneuver and avoid collisions. Accidents that occur due to aggressive driving typically involve excessive speed, making the potential for serious injury or fatalities higher.

Victims of Road Rage Have Rights.

In many states, road rage is crime. Regardless of the classification, if someone injures you while engaging in road rage, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries. You may be entitled to pursue a claim against the person who injured you in order to obtain compensation for emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of present or future earnings, and medical expenses such as treatments, hospital visits, and physical therapy sessions.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of road rage, contact the Bottaro Law Firm for a free consultation. We’ll discuss the specifics of your case, assess your legal rights and walk you through the process of making a claim for compensation.