With thousands of people moving to Florida every year, roadways in the Sunshine State have become quite crowded. Unfortunately, all that traffic congestion can lead to aggressive driving behaviors which can quickly escalate to road rage. In fact, aggressive driving is a factor in nearly 55% of all fatal motor vehicle crashes, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, and road rage episodes resulted in about 30 deaths and 1,800 injuries per year.
What Is Aggressive Driving?
You may know aggressive driving when you see it, but putting it into words can be difficult. The legal definition of aggressive driving is spelled out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It defines aggressive driving as “the behavior of an individual who commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property."
Examples of Aggressive Driving
So what does aggressive driving look like? Aggressive driving can take on many forms. Here are six examples of aggressive driving.
Speeding. Any time a driver goes faster than the posted speed limit or exceeds a safe speed for certain road conditions (construction, inclement weather).
Road hogging. Making frequent lane changes in order to “get ahead” or whipping in and out of lanes.
Tailgating. Getting too close to another vehicle in order to make them go faster or move out of the way.
Running red lights and entering an intersection when the light is yellow.
Lack of attention to driving. Eating, talking on the phone, texting, putting on make-up, and drinking can lead to more aggressive driving.
Expressing anger non-productively. Hand gestures, intense honking, screaming, and yelling at other drivers. This is typically what we think of when defining road rage.
What is the Difference Between Aggressive Driving and Road Rage?
Road rage is a form of aggressive driving, but not all aggressive driving escalates into road rage. When a situation leads to road rage, it can become a criminal offense that can lead to jail time. Road rage is considered extreme and deliberate unsafe driving that poses an immediate and significant risk to property or another person. Road rage can include excessive honking and flashing of headlights, as well as rude gestures. It can also escalate to basically “using your vehicle as a weapon,” such a dueling another vehicle in a reckless chase or nudging the bumper of another car to get them to move forward or out of the way. In the worst-case scenario, a driver may brandish an actual weapon, leading to a road rage shooting. In fact, Florida is the top-ranking state for road rage shootings.
Unfortunately, incidents of road rage are increasing. Here’s a look at some eye-opening statistics on road rage.
Road rage causes approximately 30 murders every year in the United States.
8 in 10 Americans engage in road rage behavior at least once a year.
Nearly 50% of US drivers have yelled at another traffic participant, and 45% of drivers have excessively honked in order to express their anger.
What You Should Do When Confronted with an Aggressive Driver
Encountering an aggressive driver on the road can be scary. Here are a few tips for dealing with an aggressive driver.
Avoid confrontation. Do not return rude gestures and avoid eye contact.
Move out of the way and let the aggressive driver pass. Avoid speeding up or racing which can be dangerous and deadly. It’s best to simply swallow your pride and “take the high road.”
Call the police. If an aggressive driver will not leave you alone, contact the police.
Report aggressive driving. Once the aggressive driver has moved on, safely pull over and call the police to report it. More than likely, the driver will continue to drive aggressively and could harm someone else. Provide police with the time, date, location, license plate, vehicle description, and driver description if possible, and prepare to appear in court if necessary.
Contributing Factors to Aggressive Driving and Road Rage
What are some of the contributing factors leading to aggressive driving and road rage? According to AAA, gender and age play a role. Men are more likely to drive aggressively, and younger drivers (19 and below) of both genders are four times more likely to be involved in an aggressive driving crash than older drivers.
Month and day also factor in. Unsurprisingly, road rage incidents happen during the hottest months: July and August. Incidents are also more likely to happen toward the end of the week and between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., coinciding with peak commute hours.
Top trigger factors include impatience waiting at traffic lights or for parking (33%), impatience waiting for passengers to enter their vehicle (25%), and anger when a multi-land highway narrows (22%).
Involved in an Accident with an Aggressive Driver?
Have you or a loved one been involved in an accident caused by an aggressive driver? Contact Lowman Law Firm for expert help. Lowman Law Firm’s attorneys bring their skills, experience, and compassion to every auto accident injury case. Our auto accident attorneys serve all of Florida, with offices in Citrus County, Hernando County, Hillsborough County, and Pasco County. Not able to come to us? We’ll come to you! We offer free home and hospital consultations. And, there’s never a fee until you win your case.