If you live in Southern California, you are familiar with road rage. Whether you’ve witnessed it or experienced it yourself, it is an unfortunate reality most commonly seen on our busy roads and freeways. It is frustrating, angering, and upsetting to come across rude and dangerous drivers on the road.

What’s even more upsetting are the statistics that result in road rage incidents:

  • 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving
  • 37% of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm
  • Males <19 years old are most likely to exhibit road rage.
  • Half of drivers who are on the receiving end of aggressive behavior (horn honking, rude gestures, tailgating) admit to responding with aggressive behavior.
  • Over a 7-year period, 218 murders and 12,610 injuries were attributed to road rage.
  • 2% of drivers admit to trying to run an aggressor off the road

Courtesy of AAA

Furthermore, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that road rage is the leading cause of traffic accidents. Unfortunately in our own backyard, Los Angeles rated the highest for incidences of road rage, with a total of seven California cities out of 24 nationally listed were rated as the top places for road rage incidents.

Courtesy of Auto Insurance Center

 Road Rage Goes Viral

Just last week, a suspect was finally apprehended, after his involvement in a road rage incident gone viral, with the original incident occurring 8 months previously. This extreme case of road rage was caught on tape and showed a motorcyclist pulling up to the driver’s side of a Nissan sedan and kicking the vehicle. The Nissan driver swerved left into the motorcyclist (who remained in control of his bike), swerved right, lost control of the vehicle and crashed into the center divider. As the Nissan bounced off the center divide, it broadsided a Cadillac SUV, which subsequently flipped over and ended up on its roof. Despite the chaos, the motorcyclist rode away unscathed. 

Courtesy of KCAL 9

Over the 8 months prior to his arrest, investigators were collecting evidence to build a solid case against him, which has resulted in three felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon, reckless driving, and a hit and run.  

What’s the Difference Between Road Rage and Aggressive Driving?

While both road rage and aggressive driving obviously both exhibit aggressive actions, they are noted as different categories.  AAA Exchange defines the two accordingly:

Aggressive Driving

  • Speeding in heavy traffic
  • Tailgating
  • Cutting in front of another driver and then slowing down
  • Running red lights
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Changing lanes without signaling
  • Blocking cars attempting to pass or change lanes
  • Using headlights or brakes to ‘punish’ other drivers.

Road Rage

  • Cursing and rude or obscene gestures
  • Throwing objects
  • Ramming
  • Sideswiping
  • Forcing a driver off the road

Why is Road Rage a Thing?

The term ‘aggressive driving’ started appearing in the ‘90s as a way to categorize dangerous behaviors seen on the road. While research doesn’t yet have a direct correlation between what makes road rage more likely to happen, sociologists have suggested that examining the larger scope of societal factors could come into play. This, in combination with a uniform approach to engineering roadways (i.e., not considering other variables in driving), have been thought  to contribute to this problem.

Disengage From Road Rage

Road rage is not something going away any time soon, but there are ways you can take action to prevent further escalation of an incident.

As we’ve addressed in a previous blog, your reaction can help avoid a bad road rage incident. It can be tempting to engage with another driver when you feel as if you’ve been wronged on the roadway, but clearly, that isn’t the best or safest solution.

It helps to remember that the actions of someone else on the road are not a personal vendetta against you as a person. In fact, being in our own vehicles on the road is much like being a user on the internet; it creates a sort of false sense of anonymity, so people are more likely to engage in behaviors they normally wouldn’t in a face-to-face context.

If that doesn’t help, keep in mind there are real, legal and detrimental consequences to road rage behavior:

  1. Going to court
  2. Legal fees or fines
  3. Physical damage to your vehicle or self, including death.
  4. Physical damage, injury, or death of another (liability)
  5. Prison/jail time

It is simply not worth the risk to engage in road rage behavior.

Have a serious injury and need legal advice?
Contact Howard Blau.

Check Out These References for Further Reading:

“Aggressive Driving and Road Rage”. Safe Motorist. Retrieved 7 March 2018. http://www.safemotorist.com/articles/road_rage.aspx

“US Cities With the Worst Road Rage.” World Atlas. Retrieved 7 March 2018. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/us-cities-with-the-worst-road-rage.html

“San Fernando Valley Motorist Arrested in Road-Rage Crash Caught on Video.” Los Angeles Daily News. Retrieved 7 March 2018. https://www.dailynews.com/2018/03/01/san-fernando-valley-motorcyclist-arrested-in-road-rage-crash-caught-on-video/

“Suspect Arrested in Road Rage Crash Caught on Camera”. CBS Los Angeles. Retrieved 7 March 2018. http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2018/02/28/road-rage-crash-suspect-arrested/

“Aggressive Driving.” AAA Exchange. Retrieved 7 March 2018. https://exchange.aaa.com/safety/driving-advice/aggressive-driving/#.WqBEwZPwbfY

NHTSA Report on Aggressive Driving. NHTSA. Retrieved 7 March 2018. https://one.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/research/aggdrivingenf/pages/introduction.html