Anger may be deadly on the highway. Road rage incidents and personal injury are rising according to a study performed for the National Highway Safety Administration. Deaths from motor vehicle accidents attributed to aggressive driving rose from 80 occurrences in 2006 to 467 in 2015. This is almost a 500 percent rise in ten years. Events across the country in one week in June reveal its danger.
According to reports, a veteran was killed while trying to apologize after he cut off another driver. A former police officer and a gang member were arrested after a road rage incident involving fired shots and a fistfight. A teenager was placed in a headlock and dragged for over a mile at 40 mph after confronting another driver.
Aggressive driving is dangerous traffic behaviors such as following too closely, driving too fast, weaving in traffic and running traffic lights or signs. The NHTSA defines it as operating a motor vehicle in a way that jeopardizes or is likely to endanger other people or property.
Road rage involves more violent and extremely dangerous behavior including leaving a vehicle to confront another driver, physical assault and even murder. Aggressive driving is a traffic violation while road rage is a crime. Sociologists blame this behavior on the fragmentation of society and disintegration of shared values. Psychologists claim that intoxicating power of and anonymity of vehicles are contributing causes.
Other experts blame drivers giving up sleep to accomplish tasks which increases the likelihood of a road rage situation. The lack of sleep combined with daily life stress, such as traffic congestion, may be a toxic combination. A Colorado State University study found that angry drivers admitted to taking more risks in their daily driving, having more close calls and traffic violations and being more hostile or aggressive when showing anger.
Motorists facing an aggressive driver should try to deescalate the situation by avoiding eye contact, keeping their car windows up and staying in their vehicle. They should also continue driving at a normal speed and keep a safe distance from the aggressive driver’s vehicle.
Victims of an accident caused by aggressive driving or harm attributed to road rage may be entitled to compensation. An attorney can help gather evidence and pursue this right in a personal injury lawsuit.