Road rage is scary. It’s unsettling to see another driver act in a way where you don’t know what they will do next. Even more unnerving: according to a recent AAA study, 80 percent of all drivers have participated in some form of aggressive driving or road rage. Ready for the scariest statistic of them all?
Eight million drivers have felt extreme road rage, and some have engaged in outright criminal behaviors as a result, such as intentionally running into someone else’s vehicle. Road rage is never okay. If you sustain injuries after a road rage accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to learn how to protect your rights and recover the compensation you deserve.
The Dangers of Road Rage
Caught on tape: A Ford Bronco plowed into the back of a white Chevrolet on a busy Nebraska interstate. The collision caused the Chevy to turn into the adjacent lane, narrowly avoiding an accident. The victim of the accident says that he believes that the collision was intentional, an act of road rage.
Accidents like this don’t happen every day, but they still occur far too often. A driver becomes upset by another driver’s actions and chooses to react aggressively, and sometimes dangerously. When drivers choose to participate in road rage and use their vehicle as a weapon, they are putting the lives of everyone around them at risk.
What Exactly Is Road Rage?
You’ve probably seen a driver get a little too angry on the road. In fact, you have probably seen more than one driver act like that. There is something about the anonymity of driving in an enclosed car that makes drivers forget to act with common sense. Thankfully, most feelings of road rage don’t spur a driver to do anything worse than honking their horns a little too long or giving an unpleasant gesture. Unfortunately, there are some cases where those feelings of rage can escalate into a threat to other drivers. Examples of road rage include:
- Honking your horn: Yes, even a short honk could constitute an act of road rage. The purpose of a vehicle’s horn is to alert other drivers of dangers on the road, not to express anger at them. The only time you should use your horn is to alert another driver of a dangerous situation. Why not use the horn to express your emotions? Because it can startle other drivers, escalate their stress, and lead to an accident for which your actions were the root cause.
- Flashing your lights: Like your horn, lights should not be used as a means of retaliating against another driver or expressing your anger. Lights exist to keep drivers safe. Do not flash your lights or turn on your brights to retaliate against someone. That’s dangerous.
- Tailgating: An angry driver may aggressively ride the tail of another driver out of anger over the other driver’s driving. Don’t do it. Tailgating can lead to an accident which may result in serious injuries.
- Tapping or slamming on the brakes: If a driver is following too close, slamming on your brakes (a.k.a., conducting a “brake check”) is not an appropriate response. Instead, pull over to the side and let the tailgater pass. Slamming on your brakes could leave you and the other driver badly injured. No, it’s not right for the other driver to tailgate you, but the road is no place to try and mete out justice. Plus, you never know, maybe that tailgating driver has an emergency.
- Yelling, inappropriate gestures, or other aggressive behavior: It’s normal to become frustrated when someone cuts you off or does not let you in. But violence or aggression will not make things better. If another driver begins to act violently, do not respond. If you feel you are in danger, pull to the side of the road or drive to the police station. Avoid moving to an isolated area where there are no witnesses.
- Using a vehicle as a weapon: The worst kind of road rage happens when someone actually uses a car to assault someone. It is illegal and extremely dangerous to try and run someone off the road, cut someone off, or collide with another vehicle, just because you are angry.
After a Road Rage Accident
The most important thing you can do after a road rage accident is to remain calm. Do not attempt to confront the other driver. If the other driver’s aggressive actions led to an accident, they may be unstable or a physical threat to you after the accident. The steps you take after an accident can help keep you safe and preserve your case. Steps you should take after an accident include:
- Check for injuries: Check all passengers in your car for injuries. If you believe it is safe to do so, check the other car. Try to keep your distance and do not approach the other driver. If there are any life-threatening injuries, call 911.
- Contact the authorities: Even if there are no injuries, you should alert the police to the road rage incident. This will allow them to file a report and document the dangerous behavior. In the event of any injuries, this report can be used as evidence. If you believe your life is in danger, do not leave your vehicle and immediately call 911.
- Document evidence: You should only gather evidence if you believe it is safe to do so. If you think that the other driver will attack you or there is too much surrounding traffic, wait for the police to arrive to gather evidence. If there are any witnesses, write down their contact information.
- Contact an experienced personal injury attorney: Road rage accidents are preventable. When an accident happens as a result of someone else’s intentional actions, that person should face appropriate consequences. A personal injury attorney can help you recover damages and make sure the other driver is accountable for their actions.
Contact an Experienced Attorney Today
Emotions can run high on the road, but there is no excuse for allowing them to boil over into dangerous conduct. If you are in an accident where road rage is involved, seek legal help right away. Contact an experienced car accident attorney who can be your greatest asset after an accident.