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?
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.