Dealing with Road Rage
You may have caught the recent viral video of an irate driver who smashed in the windows of a Greyhound bus before attempting to run over the man operating the bus several times with her vehicle. The incident occurred in the middle of a busy D.C. intersection while several bystanders attempted to stop the two from a further altercation and others documented the incident on video. In this case, the woman was later arrested by local police and no one was seriously injured but this isn’t always the case. Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, research has shown aggressive drivers can be found in just about any community and their dangerous behaviors typically get worse before better. On May 3, 2018, a violent road rage incident between two drivers in Warrens, Michigan left one suffering from a gunshot wound to his shoulder after the other driver unloaded 10 shots at his vehicle.
Road rage behavior could be caused by factors completely unrelated to traffic conditions, such as when a person may be facing crisis related to family, job or their personal life. Additionally, drivers may feel frustrated when they are cut off, unable to change lanes or get stuck behind a slow-moving driver or in congested construction zones. These driving behaviors may cause a motorist to become angry and impulsive towards others and should never be excused
Negligent Drivers vs. Malicious Operators
Many car accidents are true accidents and while still often involve wrongdoing or negligence by one driver, they do not include malice or intent. But road rage and aggressive driving behaviors may involve malicious persons if not to actually hurt or harm physically, then to inflict fear and control on another.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines road rage as a “combination of moving violations that endanger the safety of other persons or their property.” Road rage or highly aggressive driving situations often times begin with:
- Blasting a vehicle’s horn
- Shouting or lude behavior towards other drivers
- Weaving in and out of lanes
- Tailgating or even bumping stopped vehicles
- Failing to yield
- Cutting off other vehicles
- Illegal passing of other vehicles
- Disregarding traffic signals, devices or signs
- Using a car or truck’s lights to display frustration
- Driving erratically
- Ignoring most traffic rules
Road rage incidents nearly always end with an injury to drivers and passengers, and sometimes innocent pedestrians or others sharing the road.
Choosing Incorrect Defensive Driving Actions Comes with a Price
More than 40,000 people were killed in crashes on U.S. roads in 2017, according to preliminary estimates from National Safety Council (NSC). Another 4.57 million people were injured seriously enough to require medical attention and thousands of families lost a loved one in a vehicle accident related to aggressive driving. For the victims that lived, many remain to be challenged for a lifetime due to traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, paralysis, post-traumatic stress, and ongoing financial struggles to cover medical costs.
The NSC has estimated the average comprehensive cost of accidents, including medical expenses, wage loss, vehicle damage, and other economic costs, as well as costs for the lost quality of life. Without a doubt, these numbers show the catastrophic impact of car accidents in general.
- Cost of a death: *$4,100,000
- Cost of an incapacitating injury: *$208,500
- Cost of a non-incapacitating evident injury: *$53,200
(*average comprehensive cost of accidents, 2017)
Identify Your Own Aggressive Driving Behaviors
Unfortunately, not all of Michigan’s drivers are courteous or practice safe driving behaviors. These drivers clog up roadways and cause major personal injuries to others with their accident prone driving decisions like speeding, violating traffic sign laws, distracted driving, and driving under the influence or with aggressive anger. Here is some guidance on adjusting your own driving behavior if you start to notice that you are feeling frustrated while operating a motor vehicle.
- Recognize: Identify the signs that indicate when you are starting to get angry while driving. Consider pulling over to the side of the road and taking a break or letting your passenger drive.
- Stay Focused on Remaining Collected: Use other outlets to calm yourself down and consider taking a less congested route or planning stops before taking a long drive. Avoid talking on the phone while driving or distracting yourself from the task at hand.
- Be Courteous: It’s easy to assume another driver is trying to be rude or personally after you but, in all reality, the other driver may have made an honest mistake. Don’t react in a way that may be aggressive of trigger additional road safety issues.
On the flip side, if you find yourself sharing the road with a motorist who is making hasteful decisions that could trigger a road rage incident, it is important to do your best at staying safe and avoiding any interaction.
- Give Yourself Response Time: This means you need to allow for space between you and the aggressive driver. Back away from the rage-filled car or truck by changing lanes to create space. This may also increase your response time if the driver’s actions cause sudden changes in the flow of traffic.
- Avoid Engagement: Try not to respond to the aggressive driver’s gestures, shouts or other behaviors. Do not look directly at him or her and try to leave the situation quickly.
- Know When Enough Is Enough: If the aggressive driver becomes confrontational, do not engage. Stay in your vehicle and lock your doors. If you feel threatened or in danger, dial 911 immediately.
These guidelines apply to the passengers of both vehicles as well.
As always, everyone at The Lee Steinberg Law Firm encourages Michigan drivers to operate safely and in a way that respects the lives of others on the road. If you find yourself uncontrollably angry while driving, it is advisable to pull off and take a moment to calm yourself. Many lives may depend upon your decision. Stay connected and share your thoughts on Michigan’s good and bad driver habits with us.
We Hold Uncontrolled, Rage-Filled Drivers Accountable
If you or someone you love has been a victim of another’s road rage and uncontrolled aggressive driving, you and your family deserve justice. The idea that many of these accidents, injuries, and losses are a result of unreasonable and conscious decisions by other drivers should be infuriating and unacceptable to all types of motorists.