Road Rage: Legal Definition & Incident Statistics

We’ve all likely experienced it before. You’re driving your vehicle, minding your own business, and another driver abruptly cuts you off for no reason—narrowly avoiding a collision. At this point, you’re probably boiling over at what just transpired. This type of incident, and others like it, can set the stage for what is known as road rage. In this article on road rage, we’ll explore the meaning of road rage, the cause and consequences of road rage, and finally how to deal with it.

What is road rage?

The definition of road rage is when a driver responds uncontrollably and angrily due to another driver’s actions on the road. Responses can include tailgating, angry gestures, swerving, or aggressively honking at the other driver. In the worst cases, road rage can result in attempts to injure or even kill. Road rage is generally a response rooted in retaliation. In this case, the driver loses control over their emotions and actions. A road rage incident can happen to anyone at any time. It is entirely preventable but requires awareness, discipline, and a willingness to nip it in the bud when the incident occurs.

How to tell if you have road rage

It’s normal to feel irritated or even a bit angry when someone cuts you off or stops suddenly. However, your feeling of irritation can quickly escalate when you don’t keep your temper in check. Here are some indications that you have road rage:

  • Constantly complaining and cursing the other drivers
  • Making hand gestures towards other drivers
  • Excessive use of your horn
  • Tailgating or following too closely the driver in front of you
  • Weaving in and out of lanes
  • Blocking cars from passing or changing lanes
  • Rapidly accelerating and decelerating to send a message to motorists
  • Feeling increasingly heated and frustrated in heavy traffic

These are just some indicators that you have road rage. The first step to dealing with road rage is to recognize some of these common symptoms. Make sure you’re honest with yourself and monitor your emotions every time an unfavorable incident occurs while driving.

Consequences of road rage

The consequences of road rage are significant and can be life-altering long after the incident takes place. Below are some potential consequences as a result of road rage:

  • Accidents: Road rage can inevitably result in accidents. While these accidents can turn out minor, it is not uncommon for the collision to be serious as well. According to the road rage statistics, in 2016, the US averaged about one fatal accident per day relating to road rage.
  • Violence: If provoked enough, violence leading to injuries and even death, could result from a road rage incident. There were 218 murders and 12,610 injuries due to road rage over a seven-year period in the US.
  • Legal implications: Aggressive driving may not lead to charges, but escalating the situation to vehicular homicide or intention to harm can land you with serious criminal ramifications.
  • Stress: Needless to say, road rage can cause huge amounts of stress. Stress can be a significant health issue for some and can trigger larger health problems like mental health and various cardiovascular diseases.

What causes road rage?

Road rage and aggressive driving by others is a huge trigger for many when it comes to losing your cool on the roads.  Examples of aggressive driving can include:

  • Tailgating
  • Cutting someone off
  • Blocking drivers
  • Erratic driving

Heavy traffic or congested highway road rage is also common. The combination of overcrowding and confinement within your car can trigger stress and anxiety. Other external factors can also cause road rage. If you’ve recently been in an argument or perhaps a tragedy recently occurred, it won’t take much to lose your temper on the roads. While the various triggers play a large role in causing road rage, psychologists believe that our disposition to hostility and rage on the roads has been ingrained in us from childhood. The cultural norms of the road as a competitive and hostile arena, as shown on television shows, various road rage articles, the news, media, etc., contribute greatly to road rage.

How to deal with road rage

If you are the driver, here are ways to deal with your own road rage:

  • Don’t drive after an agitating or stressful event (i.e. argument, breakup, etc.).
  • Don’t drive if you lack sleep or are physically exhausted.
  • Assume the best in other drivers. For example, don’t automatically assume the other driver is intentionally trying to cut you off.
  • Take a couple of deep breaths if you start feeling heated. Breathing helps with stress and keeps you centered.

How should you react to road rage or aggressive driving from other drivers? Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t engage with the other driver. Avoid eye contact and calmly drive on to deescalate the situation.
  • Give yourself plenty of space between you and the aggressive driver.
  • If the aggressive driver is following you, drive to a safe place with lots of people or head to the closest police station.

Valiente Mott

If you’ve sustained any injuries due to a road rage incident, contact the Las Vegas car accident attorney team at Valiente Mott today! We are here to help victims handle insurance and legal-related matters so they can focus on recovering from injuries. Get a free consultation today for the best legal advice regarding your unique circumstances.

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