There is a tendency to use the terms aggressive driving and road rage interchangeably as if they were identical. However, aggressive driving is a series of traffic offenses that endanger both the driver and the motorists around him, while road rage is a criminal offense. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines road rage as:
“An assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of one motor vehicle on the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or is caused by an incident that occurred on a roadway.”
An assault is a threat of bodily harm combined with an apparent and present ability to cause the harm. Therefore, using your car or a weapon within the car to threaten harm to occupants in another car is road rage. For example, if you hit your brakes hard in front of a tailgater to teach him a lesson, a police witness could interpret your act as road rage.
While the acts of road rage involves aggressive driving, not all aggressive drivers are expressing road rage. For example, the aggressive driver who cuts you off because he needs to get to his exit before missing it feels no anger toward you. He recklessly calculated that he could pull off the maneuver. His intent is to get to his exit, not to threaten you. Therefore his aggressive action is not road rage.
People engage in road rage to retaliate or teach other motorists a lesson for a perceived offense or “injustice” of some kind. When two motorists equally prone to road rage engage the other, their actions can escalate to the point where serious injury or death occurs.
Signs You Are Prone To Road Rage
- You are quick to anger and often act impulsively on it.
- You frequently criticize the driving of other motorists in your thoughts or find their driving habits aggravating.
- You often feel anger toward other drivers.
- You never fault your own driving when an incident occurs between you and another motorist.
- You jump to conclusions about the motivations behind other driver’s actions.
- You can’t take insults or slights from other drivers.
- You often feel that other drivers interfere with your rights and freedoms as a motorist.
- You can’t accommodate the mistakes or shortcomings of other motorists.
- You need to “right” every wrong committed against you.
- You use your car to express rage, aggravation, or anger.
When an aggressive driver endangers you, let him go his way. Never attempt to get even or teach him a lesson. If you are the target of road rage, get out of the driver’s way if he wants to get past you. Do nothing to engage him because it will escalate the situation. Avoid eye contact or gestures of any kind. Some people recommend gesturing an apology or smiling at the person. However, in his angry state he might misinterpret your gesture or smile. Call the police if he refuses to leave you alone.
If you are injured in an accident because of another’s aggressive driving or road rage, don’t hesitate to get the help of a Virginia accident lawyer. At the Law Offices of John Critzos, II, accident litigation is our main focus. Let us put our experience to work to get you the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today.
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