It’s a term that was relatively unfamiliar only a couple of decades ago, but today it strikes fear into the hearts of nearly every driver across the U.S. Road rage is a problem that has been increasing, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. With more than 200 fatalities attributed to angry drivers in a recent six-year period and thousands of serious injuries, road rage is a form of driving that endangers everyone on the streets.
Unfortunately, road rage is a common occurrence that can be triggered by seemingly minor events, such as tailgating, cutting someone off, speeding or even driving too slowly, says the American Psychological Association. It’s difficult to predict which drivers are prone to road rage attacks: They may seem outwardly calm much of the time, but often have a tendency to quickly get angry or anxious, have impulsive behavior or have more tickets or car accidents than the usual person.
Frightening attack shows how quickly an incident can escalate
Some drivers may not even know what it was they did that set off an aggressive driver. In May in Los Angeles, a man attempted to ram a woman’s vehicle in a shopping center parking lot, then followed her to an intersection and fired at her with a BB gun, reported the Los Angeles Times. She may lose sight in one eye as a result of the attack. The man was charged with assault with a deadly weapon, and faces multiple prison sentences as a result of this attack and other unrelated charges.
Differences between road rage and aggressive driving
The above road rage attack was classified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as a criminal offense, since the attacker deliberately used his vehicle and later a weapon in an attempt to harm the woman. However, when the term “aggressive driving” is mentioned, people may not realize this is different from a true road rage attack. Aggressive driving behaviors, such as speeding, cutting in and out of traffic, tailgating and offensive gesturing, can be dangerous to others on the road, but is considered a traffic offense. Aggressive drivers can quickly turn into “road ragers.”
There are several ways drivers can reduce their chances of being victims in a road rage incident:
- Drive in a courteous manner that is unlikely to offend or anger other drivers.
- Avoid speeding, driving too slowly in the left lane, tailgating, gesturing angrily or yelling at other drivers.
- Avoid eye contact and try to steer clear of an aggressive driver.
- If followed by an angry driver, get help by calling 911 or driving to a safe place, such as a police station or well-lit public area.
Additionally, potential road rage victims should never drive home or leave their vehicles if they are being pursued by an angry driver.
Getting help from an attorney
Road rage attacks can be unpredictable, dangerous and terrifying. If you were the victim of such an attack, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to protect your rights.