What is road rage?

Road rage is a type of aggressive driving that poses a threat to motorists and passengers. It can cause serious problems and even fatal car accidents.

A Los Angeles news station came up with the term road rage after several shootings on local freeways. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines this behavior as a driver who commits moving traffic offenses that endanger other people or property. It can also be an assault with a vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the driver or passenger of a vehicle upon the driver or occupants of another vehicle.

NHTSA distinguishes road rage from aggressive driving. Road rage is a criminal offense, while aggressive driving is a traffic offense. Road rage is comprised of several actions. These include screaming, rude and obscene gestures and violence. Other behavior includes driving over the speed limit, rushing through intersections while trying to beat red lights, tailgating, flashing headlights while following a car believed to be traveling too slowly and frequent horn honking.

Road rage statistics compiled by the NHTSA and the Auto Vantage auto club are alarming. Aggressive driving caused 66 percent of all traffic fatalities. Firearms played a role in 37 percent of aggressive driving incidents. There were 218 murders and 12,610 injuries involving road rage over a seven-year period.

Half of the drivers who were subjected to aggressive behavior, such as rude gestures or tailgating, admit that they responded with aggressive behavior. In fact, two percent of drivers said they tried to run an aggressive driver off the road.

Stress contributes to aggressive driving. Drivers can take steps to avoid situations that cause road rage in other drivers. Contributing behavior include using a cellphone or other distracted driving, keeping high beams on toward incoming traffic, switching lanes or making turns without using turn signals and failing to check blind spots before switching lanes to assure that another vehicle is not being cut off.

Victims of an auto accident caused by an aggressive or reckless driver may be entitled to compensation. An attorney can help assure that a personal injury lawsuit is timely filed.

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