Everyone knows how frustrating driving around other vehicles can be between traffic jams and other drivers not following traffic rules. While most people can handle these frustrations without acting out, a shockingly high percentage of people admit to committing acts of road rage. According to The Zebra, in 2019, 82 percent of people admitted to committing an act of road rage in the past year.
Road rage is extremely dangerous because it dramatically increases the risk of fatal car accidents. In fact, 66 percent of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving (NHTSA).
What is road rage and aggressive driving?
Road rage is aggression or anger displayed by a driver. Common behaviors associated with road rage include rude gestures, verbal insults, cursing, yelling, intentionally driving in an unsafe or threatening manner, or making threats. In some situations, road rage escalates into actual altercations, such as assaults and collisions that result in injuries and even accidental deaths or murder. Road rage is an extreme version of aggressive driving.
A driver may be issued an aggressive driving ticket if they have committed two or more moving violations that are deemed likely to endanger other persons or property, or a single intentional violation that requires a defensive reaction by another driver. Aggressive driving behaviors include tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, and cutting in front of another driver and then slowing down.
How Road Rage Incidents Escalate into Aggressive Driving Behaviors that Lead to Accidents
Road rage incidents can escalate into aggressive driving behaviors, which can ultimately lead to accidents. Here’s how this progression can occur:
- Initial provocation
Road rage incidents often start with some form of provocation, such as cutting someone off, tailgating, or aggressive gestures. These actions can trigger anger or frustration in the affected driver.
- Emotional response
The driver who feels provoked may experience a strong emotional response, such as anger, irritation, or a sense of injustice. These intense emotions can impair judgment and decision-making abilities.
- Escalation of aggression
The emotionally charged driver may respond by engaging in aggressive driving behaviors. This can include excessive speeding, weaving through traffic, tailgating, or abruptly changing lanes without signaling. These actions are often fueled by a desire for retaliation or to assert dominance.
- Reciprocal aggression
If the provoked driver responds aggressively, the situation can quickly escalate into a cycle of reciprocal aggression. Each driver tries to outdo the other, leading to a dangerous escalation of aggressive driving behaviors and impaired risk assessment. For example, speeding could escalate to running a red light or street racing. These actions greatly increase the chances of losing control and causing an accident.
- Collision or accident
The final stage involves an actual collision or accident. The aggressive driving behaviors exhibited by both parties increase the likelihood of crashes, as they disregard traffic laws, fail to yield right of way, or create hazardous situations on the road.
It’s important to note that road rage incidents are preventable, and it’s crucial for drivers to prioritize safety, maintain emotional control, and practice patience and empathy while on the road. If you encounter an aggressive driver, it’s best to avoid confrontation and report their behavior to the appropriate authorities when it is safe to do so. The Washington State Patrol website has information about how to report aggressive driving to the police.
Seek the help of a car accident lawyer
If you or a loved one was injured in a collision because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced car accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!