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The Dangers of Road Rage

Let’s admit it we have all been there on the road, where someone cuts us off or takes that parking spot that was undoubtedly ours. The response we tend to give these people are all too common ranging from cursing like a sailor to the infamous finger flip. The road has become a concrete jungle in a sense as studies are beginning to show that more often than not people are becoming aggressive drivers, and aren’t ashamed, that or they simply just don’t realize it. Right alongside drunk driving, aggressive driving has become one of the leading threats when sitting behind the wheel.

A study done by Response Insurance showed that 50 percent of people when either being flipped off, cut off or tailgated responded with horn honking, yelling, cutting-off, and obscene gestures of their own. The survey also showed that a startling 2 percent of drivers admitted to trying to run an aggressor off the road!

Some may refer to this type of behavior as “road rage”, which is a by-product of aggressive driving. They are somewhat similar in the way that they both express a sense of being frustrated while on the road, however, the consequences are what differentiates the two. Road rage is seen as when a driver commits moving traffic violations so as to endanger other persons or property which would result in a criminal charge, in other words leading to a crime. Aggressive driving, on the other hand, is different in that it only results in traffic offenses such as speeding, or failing to use a turn signal. That’s not to say that one is less invasive than the other. In fact, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, aggressive driving is a serious offense and accounts for more than half of all traffic fatalities. Look at it as aggressive driving as the cause, and road rage is the effect.

Common behaviors that qualify as aggressive driving:

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Driving slowly in passing lane
  • Racing
  • Failing to observe signs and regulations
  • Seeking confrontation with other drivers

So the other driver cut you off, now what? Your first instinct is to maybe honk. DON’T! People are people, in other words, many drivers are thinking/doing the same. Instead, brush it off, maybe they have an emergency, or are late to a very important meeting, either way, everyone is traveling to get to point B. “Road rage is a two-way street,” noted Ray Palermo, of Response Insurance, “It takes two people to fight. So, if you are subjected to aggressive driving, often the best way to ensure it does not get any worse is to just ignore it.” Retaliating or instigating these situations can become violent and at times deadly. Never get out the car if someone is following you or flashing their lights, whatever the case may be. Your life and the lives of those with you are at stake when you decide to take matters into your own hands. Instead, call the police and inform them of what is going on.

What if you’re the aggressor?

So it seems that everyone is out to get you. People are mouthing absurdities towards you, honking, staring, etc. What may come as a shock is the notion that perhaps the aggressor is you. If the one causing the ruckus is yourself, perhaps changing your driving habits will help make your commute a better experience and help build some self-control along the way. Take a defensive driving class or a safety driver’s education course to make that step towards the right direction. You can find the courses listed here. Changing isn’t easy for a lot of people according to psychologist Dan Goldman, who says that anger is a rather seductive emotion making it hard to resist and easy to give in. His theory is that aggressive driving is a lot more serious than others would suspect, and in fact can be defined as an illness. The National Institute of Health actually sponsored a study that labeled the phenomenon of road rage as ‘Intermittent Explosive Disorder’ (IED) creating a growing consciousness of this developing epidemic as a medical based illness.

If ever you are the victim of road rage or aggressive driving, be sure to take the necessary steps to avoid any further skirmish. Contact the lawyers at Herrman and Herrman, P.L.L.C., if you or someone you know is injured due to aggressive driving or road rage.

Take this quiz posted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety to see if you are considered an aggressive driver.