When you’re trying to get to work, get home, or just run some errands, you may find yourself near a driver who is anything but friendly. Maybe they cut you off, stopped abruptly, or even made a right turn from the left lane. You honk your horn and maybe even yell, knowing the other driver probably can’t hear the names you’re calling them.
The other driver may respond by utilizing their “driving finger,” roll down the window and shout profanity or even attempt to intimidate you by driving too close or flashing their bright lights.
You’ve just experienced a bit of road rage.
What Does “Road Rage” Mean?
Coined in the 1990s, road rage describes aggressive driving actions taken to the extreme. These can include:
- Excessive speed
- Excessive horn honking
- Flashing lights
- Yelling and gesturing
- Cutting off or blocking another driver
- Confronting another driver
- Deliberately bumping or ramming into another car
- Other illegal maneuvers and aggressive actions intended to intimidate other drivers
Aggressive actions by one driver tend to infuriate the victim, and some may feel the need to evoke “revenge,” quickly escalating tensions. Road rage drivers tend to be younger, such as those under 35. In some areas of the US, a “road rage” driver may also be carrying a firearm.
About one in three accidents involve aggressive driving, including road rage. All of these actions—and more—can be either a catalyst or a direct cause of a car accident.
Naturally, this means that the other driver’s deliberate actions are a form of negligence and can make them liable. Your car, your injuries, your lost wages—all of that can be factored into a personal injury claim against the aggressive driver who caused the accident.
Road rage also leads to about 30 murders every year in conjunction with an accident, and an estimated 37% of aggressive drivers are carrying a firearm. Negligence on its own isn’t normally a criminal charge. But any driver who commits any type of bodily harm—with or without a weapon—will face criminal charges, separate from the personal injury side of the case.
Avoiding Road Rage Incidents
We can’t control the other driver’s actions, but we can control how we react to them.
- Even without road rage, keeping a safe distance between you and another driver is always a good idea, and allowing other drivers plenty of room to merge.
- Avoid inflammatory gestures, such as those involving the “driving finger.”
- Avoid using your horn unless necessary. When you do, use short staccato honks rather than sitting on the horn
- Utilize your turn signals to let other drivers know your intentions
Should you find yourself in a road rage situation, protect yourself against possible escalation:
- Don’t engage with the other driver or drivers. Steer clear and give them plenty of room to allow them to keep driving.
- Keep your seat belt buckled in case of a collision with the other car.
- Avoid eye contact, which can escalate the situation.
- Make no physical gestures of any kind, nor return gestures or remarks.
- Put as much distance between your vehicle and the other one, and get away as fast as possible. An angered driver can become violent quickly, and getting out of your car to “talk things over” is very dangerous.
- Don’t try to “win.” It’s not a contest, and competing with horn honking or other aggressive responses can make a bad situation worse.
Should you realize that someone is following you, call the police immediately and report your location. If that’s not possible, drive to a populated area, such as a police or fire station, hospital, shopping center, etc., and get attention using your horn. Do not go home, and do not get out of your car.
As soon as you are able, call 911. Make sure to take down details of the car, the driver, the license plate, time and place, and other relevant details for the police. Because a court appearance is a distinct possibility, prepare a complete report of all the details.
There may be a reason why the other driver is acting aggressively, and it may not be what you think. The person may be a doctor rushing to a hospital, or someone driving a loved one there. A driver may also be experiencing an emergency such as speck dust in the eye while driving and may not be able to pull over right away. There is no way to know this driving the speed limit. However, if another driver turns and threatens you, it’s important to protect yourself.
Road Rage Accident? Call The Love Law Firm
Sober, aggressive drivers who use their vehicles to take their frustrations out on other drivers are just as dangerous as a drunk driver—and maybe even more.
We’ve been helping West Virginians for over 25 years with car accidents. From police reports to repairs to dealing with insurance companies, we’re ready to help you navigate through the complexities of a car accident case. Speak with Chad Love before you speak with insurance companies and lawyers from the other party.
If you’ve been involved in a Charleston, WV, car accident and need help, contact us at The Love Law Firm, or call us at (304) 344 5683. Your consultation is free, and we only collect if we win your case.