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Most Americans Engage in Dangerous and Aggressive Driving Behaviors

Steve Wagner

Jokes about road rage abound in American society. It takes a prominent place in many films, some comedic and others terrifying (Spielberg’s 1971 Duel anyone?). The reality, however, leans much more toward the terrifying. A new report released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety focuses on the prevalence of aggressive driving behaviors, and the results are disturbing. Nearly 80% of those surveyed admit to engaging in aggressive driving activities over the past year, with many respondents claiming they have done so repeatedly.

The danger here, of course, is the relationship between aggressive driving and deadly car collisions. Some form of aggressive driving plays a role in nearly 2/3 of all traffic accidents. In its more minor forms, if we can even call them that, aggressive driving results in high-stress situations where multiple drivers are distracted while behind the wheel of their vehicles. Whether one is yelling at another driving, honking repeatedly to show frustration, or gesturing angrily, it’s obvious that the requisite attention is not focused on the road. These behaviors are among the most common behaviors associated with aggressive driving.

Speeding is another behavior of aggressive drivers causing problems on the roadways. We’ve written many times about the dangers of speeding and the multitude of car, truck, and bicycle accidents that are an inevitable result of ignoring speed limits. The AAA survey found another behavior to be surprisingly common—tailgating another driver intentionally, out of anger or frustration. In fact, more than half of all survey respondents say they have done so in the past year, again with many reporting repeated occurrences. Tailgating creates increased risk of a rear-end collision, which is almost always most serious for the unsuspecting driver whose vehicle is rear-ended. While whiplash is common in rear-end collisions, spinal injuries and even death are possible, especially for those passengers in back seats.

Crossing the Line into Road Rage

By the time a driver is intentionally tailgating another driver, we’ve likely crossed the line from aggressive driving into road rage territory. Road rage results in aggressive actions taken toward another driver, usually in anger and with the goal or frightening or intimidating the other person. All the behaviors previously mentioned could be considered road rage, depending on circumstances. Other behaviors are so egregious in their threat toward others that they are almost always going to be considered to be a product of road rage. Think these kinds of behaviors are rare? Think again.

Twenty-five percent of those surveyed have intentionally blocked other vehicles from changing lanes, with twelve percent going so far as to cut off another vehicle. Others explicitly use their vehicles in an attempt to damage the other vehicle or to injure the other driver and passengers. While the percentage of drivers who have engaged in such a behavior is relatively small (2.8%), the numbers become staggering when considered as a portion of the larger overall population. If I told you there might be 6 million drivers in the United States who are likely to bump or ram your vehicle if angry on the road, would that feel like a small threat?

In short, aggressive driving behaviors and road rage are extremely prevalent in our society. They create significant risk of crashes, traffic accidents, and fatalities on our country’s roads. Have you or a loved one been the victim of another driver’s road rage? Were you injured and are now in need of support in order to heal and take care of your family? The Indianapolis-based attorneys at Wagner Reese can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us today for a free and confidential consultation: (888) 204-8440.

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