Road Rage Accidents
It starts harmlessly, maybe innocently. Someone pulls out in front of you, perhaps not looking to see if traffic was coming. You slam on your brakes, narrowly avoiding a collision. Unfortunately, now you are upset. Questions race through your mind. Is this driver an idiot? Why do people these days have no consideration?
Even worse, the driver who pulled out in front of you is now going slowly—actually the speed limit. But you’re running late to an appointment, so it feels slow. The pace of traffic only adds to your agitation. Now you pull right up on the bumper of the car in front of you. I’ll teach them, you tell yourself. As the driver slowly increases speed to get away from you, you accelerate quickly so that you are still right on their fender.
Before you know it, you are in the grips of road rage.What is Road Rage?
Road rage is any form of aggressive driving that stems from disagreements with other drivers. For example, a driver might cut off another motorist or refuse to yield, or they might drive too closely. Many different things can be triggers. Sometimes the triggers are no one driver's fault, such as congested traffic or poor weather.
Road rage is surprisingly common. According to one estimate, over 50% of drivers will experience road rage at any given point. Another study has put that number even higher—80% of drivers will experience significant anger behind the wheel this year.
It’s less important to understand what causes road rage than to understand why it is dangerous. When a motorist is in the grips of road rage, they can:
- Purposefully tailgate
- Yell at a driver
- Make obscene gestures
- Cut off another motorist
- Pass illegally
- Bump a vehicle
- Get out of their car to confront another driver
Because the motorist is in the grips of rage, they cannot fully appreciate how they are endangering other motorists on the road. For example, someone who is enraged that a driver passed them might try to pass the vehicle illegally around a bend. In doing so, they could collide head-on with another vehicle and injure a completely innocent person.Those Most at Risk of Road Rage
Any driver can become caught in a rage spiral. Nevertheless, some drivers are more prone than others:
- According to AAA, male drivers aged 19-39 were much more likely to drive aggressively. In particular, males are 300% more likely than females to get out of a vehicle to confront a driver or ram another vehicle intentionally.
- Road rage drivers tend to be aggressive drivers, regardless of whether they are angry. For example, they are more likely to speed or cut off other motorists intentionally, even when in good spirits.
- Drivers in the Northeast are more likely to yell, honk, or make obscene gestures while driving.
Unfortunately, anybody on the road can become a victim—even motorists who did nothing to provoke the driver into a fit of rage.How to De-Escalate a Situation
No driver is perfect. You might inadvertently cut someone off or fail to drive as fast as other people would like. Before you know it, someone is honking their horn and flashing their lights at you. A driver in the grips of road rage might suddenly park themselves on your tail, following you closely. Instead of flipping them off or hitting the brakes and causing a collision, what you need to do is de-escalate the situation. Here’s how:
- Avoid eye contact. The driver already thinks that there is a personal dispute between him and you. You need to avoid feeding into this delusion. Avoid eye contact, regardless of what kind of scene the driver is making.
- Don't make gestures. Also, tell your passengers to ignore the driver.
- Get distance between you two. If possible, slow down (provided the enraged driver is not directly behind you). Change lanes. Pull off the road and go to a rest stop or gas station. Try to safely get the driver away from you. Their rage should cool down quickly once there is sufficient distance between the two of you.
- Drive to the police station, if necessary. After pulling off the highway, you might find that the road rager is following you. This person might be truly dangerous. In this situation, drive to the nearest police station. If you don’t know where that is, drive to a convenience store or anyplace where you see a lot of people.
Realize that some people are habitually angry. In fact, the average road rager experiences over two dozen incidents in any given year. There is not much you can do to calm someone down who is predisposed to acting recklessly. All you can do is protect yourself and your family.How to Handle Your Own Road Rage
If you know you have a problem road rage, you should take steps to affirmatively deal with it. Experts recommend the following:
- Sleep enough at night. Being tired can add to anger and irritability.
- Avoid drinking alcohol. This sounds like a no-brainer, but alcohol not only impairs driving, it can increase anger.
- Give yourself adequate time to reach your destination. One major reason people become angry is that they are running late for appointments.
- Play calming music or anything that releases tension in your body.
- Remind yourself that the driver probably did not intentionally do something to offend you. They might not have even seen you. Try to give other drivers the benefit of the doubt.
- Humanize the other driver. If you are angry, really look at them as you pass their vehicle. Tell yourself that they are a normal person just like you.
If all fails, you should consider visiting a therapist. Rage on the road tends to bleed into other areas of your life, and you could be harming yourself and your loved ones if you cannot properly manage your anger.Handling a Road Rage Accident
If an aggressive driver has injured you, you might be entitled to compensation. Discuss your case with an experienced Georgia car accident lawyer who can review the surrounding circumstances. Depending on your injuries, you might seek a settlement for medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional distress. A car accident lawyer in Georgia can help to identify all of the compensation available, so reach out to one immediately.