Recently, a 22-year-old man and his family came under gunfire after a road rage incident led to his truck tire being shot. The incident occurred when the family was headed to lunch. The victim of the incident stated that, on the way to the restaurant, a driver in a Lexus IS 300 drove alongside his vehicle in an adjacent travel lane for a while before attempting to swerve into his lane. The man says he slammed on his brakes to let the vehicle pass.
Moments later, the two vehicles stopped beside each other at a stoplight, and the man rolled down the window of his Ford pickup truck and cursed at the Lexus driver. The Lexus driver then exited his vehicle, holding a firearm. He preceded to shoot the rear tire of the pickup truck with the family inside. The family followed the car through a neighborhood long enough to get a picture of the Lexus’s license plate number and reported the incident to the police.
Police later arrested a 29-year-old man and charged him with unlawful intentional discharge of a firearm, use of a firearm to commit a felony, and making terroristic threats. He was held on $300,000 bail.
Road rage is a serious threat to driver safety. If you were injured in a road rage-related accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation for the expenses incurred due to your injuries. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you understand the options available to you.
What Is Road Rage?
Road rage is often used interchangeably with aggressive driving. While aggressive driving behaviors are often present in road rage incidents, the two terms define separate issues. While aggressive driving is a list of behaviors that constitute traffic offenses, such as speeding, erratic lane changes, or following another car too closely, road rage refers to the criminal attempt to endanger people or property by assaulting them with a motor vehicle or other weapon.
An estimated 66 percent of accidents involve aggressive driving behaviors and about 37 percent of reported aggressive driving incidents involve use of a firearm, indicating that both aggressive driving and road rage are major factors in traffic-related crashes. In a seven-year period, 218 murders and 12,610 injuries were attributed to road rage. Some common road rage behaviors include:
- Purposefully tailgating
- Yelling at another driver
- Honking to show annoyance or irritation
- Making angry gestures
- Trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes
- Purposefully cutting off another vehicle
- Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver
- Purposefully bumping or ramming another vehicle
How Serious Is the Problem?
According to research from AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in a year’s time, 80 percent of drivers across the nation who participated in a survey reported expressing significant anger or road rage behind the wheel at least once.
Approximately 8 million drivers confessed that they’d exhibited extreme road rage behaviors such as bumping or ramming another vehicle or getting out of their car to confront another driver. Nearly two out of three drivers surveyed stated that they believe road rage is a worse problem than it was just three years before, and 90 percent of participants stated that road rage was a significant threat to their personal safety.
While a problem for everyone, certain groups of people more commonly exhibit road rage. For example:
- Male drivers are three times more likely than female drivers to get out of their vehicle to confront another driver.
- Male drivers under the age of 40 are most commonly associated with road rage behaviors.
- Drivers in the Northeastern United States are 30 percent more likely to use angry gestures towards others than any other driver in the country. Northeastern drivers are also more likely to yell or honk at other drivers.
- Drivers who committed other unsafe actions behind the wheel, such as speeding or red light running, were more likely to exhibit road rage behaviors.
Avoid Becoming a Statistic
While you cannot completely control the behavior or mindset of other drivers, a few things can avoid turning aggressive driving into road rage, including:
- Being a courteous driver. Don’t offend other drivers by cutting them off, tailgating, driving slowly in the left lane, changing lanes without signaling, or talking on your phone or engaging in other distractions while driving.
- Be tolerant of other people’s bad driving behavior. Remember that you have no clue what that person is going through or what may have caused them to be driving as they are. Don’t take their driving behaviors personally: in all likelihood, it has nothing to do with you.
- Don’t react. If you’re confronted by a driver who is exhibiting signs of road rage, avoid eye contact. Don’t retaliate with bad driving practices of your own or by offering an angry gesture or even shaking your head. Maintain as much distance between yourself and their vehicle as possible, even taking an alternate route, changing lanes, or slowing down to avoid being in the same area of the roadway. If the other driver won’t leave you alone, don’t go to your house or work, as that will just let that driver know where you spend much of your time. Instead, go to a well-populated area and call 911 to report the driver.
Injured by Road Rage? How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You
If you were injured in an accident involving road rage, you may obtain compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy by either filing a third-party insurance claim or through a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney can explain these options to you and may even provide services to you such as:
- Establishing a value to your case that considered all of the expenses you face, both economic and non-economic
- Thoroughly examining your case to identify all potential sources of liability and insurance resources
- Negotiating with the insurance company to ensure that you obtain the highest settlement possible
- Representing you in all pretrial and trial proceedings, as well as through any post-trial appeals
Did another driver’s road rage injury you? A free consultation with a car accident attorney can provide more information, answer your questions, and help you to decide what to do next.