We get it, sometimes when you are driving people just piss you off. Maybe they are going super slow, maybe they cut you off. There are numerous things that can turn your driving from defensive to aggressive. But aggressive driving is trouble for our roadways, and it can cause numerous problems.
Screaming, rude gestures, and sometimes even violence can happen on our streets. It’s called “road rage” and it increases the risk of auto accidents. So what causes road rage and how you can help to keep our roads accident-free by not getting angry?

What is Road Rage?

The moniker “road rage” was actually created by news station KTLA in Los Angeles after there was a rash of shootings on local freeways. Nowadays, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that road rage is when a driver “commits moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property; an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger of one motor vehicle on the operator or passengers of another motor vehicle”.
Road Rage is actually now considered a Brain Disorder. Doctors even have another name for it – intermittent explosive disorder – and it is far too common, affecting up to 16 million Americans.
There is clearly a huge difference between road rage and simple aggressive driving. Road rage is using your vehicle as a forceful, dangerous object. This is a criminal charge. Aggressive driving is much less formidable – a mere traffic offense. You can get a citation for something like unlawful use of a horn. The driver is always to blame, so if you get into trouble after a road rage incident, make sure you get legal representation such as from the Utah-based law firm Siegfried & Jensen.
Some examples of road rage include:

  • Hitting another vehicle with your car.
  • Running someone off the road.
  • Pulling over, getting out, and engaging in a physical confrontation.
  • Telling your passenger to harm the other driver.
  • Using any sort of weapon to inflict harm.

You may think that you would never cause a road rage incident, but truthfully aggressive behavior and unjustified anger can happen to anyone – even a normally safe driver.
Are you guilty of road rage? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you often drive over the speed limit, or try to “beat” red lights because you don’t have time to wait at the stoplight?
  • Do you tailgate or flash your headlights at a driver in front of you because you think they are going to slow?
  • Do you often angrily honk your horn at other drivers?
  • Do you ever flip someone off or scream at another driver?

If you said yes to any of these questions, you probably have been guilty of road rage at some point in your driving career. Maybe you were stressed out in other areas of your life and the other driver was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe the traffic was congested and you were in a hurry. All of these issues can lead up to a road rage incident – and they can also lead to accidents as well.
Even if you answered no to the above questions you may still cause an incident because other drivers may lash out at you. Ask yourself:

  • Are you a distracted driver?
  • Do you keep your high beams on, blinding oncoming traffic?
  • Are you guilty of not using your turn signal?
  • Do often cut someone off while changing lanes?

Once again, if you answered yes, you are probably causing road rage in other drivers. Don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation – always be aware of other drivers.
The following road rage statistics were drawn from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (www.nhtsa.gov). Aggressive driving and road rage are causing major issues on our roads and freeways.

  • 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving.
  • 37% of aggressive driving incidents involve a gun.
  • Males under the age of 19 are the most likely to exhibit road rage.
  • Half of the drivers who are on the receiving end of aggressive behavior, admit to responding in kind with aggressive behavior too.
  • Over a seven-year period, 218 murders and 12,610 injuries were caused by road rage.
  • 2% of drivers said they tried to run an aggressor off the road.

How to Handle The Anger

If you’ve angered another driver, even if it’s not your fault, the best way to handle the situation is to do not react or retaliate to the other driver. This will only cause the problem to get worse. Remind yourself that the other driver might just be stressed out or have other issues going on that is affecting the way they are driving. Avoid eye contact and continue to drive defensively. It’s better to let the other driver “win” than be involved in a dangerous situation.
Stressful situations that can potentially result in the other driver’s road rage include:

  • Getting fired or into an argument at work.
  • An argument with your significant other.
  • Rushing because you’re running late.
  • Dealing with screaming kids in the car.

Be aware that these problems can affect the way you drive and the way other people drive around you. You may feel impatient or angry but that can lead to dangerous options, especially if you have passengers in the car with you.
Unfortunately, the problem of road rage is ongoing, so just try to be the best and most patient driver you can be. Is it really worth it to honk your horn and anger another driver? You never know what could set someone else off. If you are involved in a road rage-related accident where there are injuries involved, always contact a law firm like Siegfried & Jensen.
If this situation happens to you, don’t stress out. Take a deep cleansing breath, stay calm and carry on!

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Content checked by personal injury attorney Todd Bradford. I worked for a small law firm in Utah County, where I handled various types of cases. My main focus was personal injury and I decided that is what I enjoyed doing the most. I rejoined Siegfried and Jensen in 2012 where my focus is solely on helping personal injury clients. I take pride in helping personal injury clients and enjoy serving them. If you need an attorney for auto accidents or injuries of any kind in Salt Lake City, UT, Ogden, UT, Spokane, WA, or Boise, ID, contact us.