There is a difference between witnessing road rage and being a victim in a road rage incident. Many Americans experience or witness examples of road rage, sometimes every day. There are many forms in which road rage takes place, but they all have some violent intent in them, even if it is restricted to yelling, flipping the bird or honking the horn. At the other extreme, whatever has caused a driver to exhibit road rage may actually lead to injury and damage to a vehicle. This includes things like sideswiping, ramming into a car, deliberately targeting pedestrians or cyclists, getting out of the car and attacking another driver, etc.
If you have been a victim of a road rage incident and have been injured by someone’s deliberate and violent behavior, you have the right to take legal action against them. More than likely, their behavior may also have stepped over the line into criminality. Anyone who has a temper tantrum while driving their vehicle and attempts to take their rage out on another driver, pedestrian or anyone else could be arrested by police for “wanton and willful disregard of the safety of others,” a criminal offense in most states, including Texas.
Even if the police do intervene in a road rage incident, if you have been injured or your car rammed by an angry driver, you aren’t going to be given compensation as a result of a criminal charge laid against the at-fault driver. You will need to file a personal injury claim against the driver citing the fact that their reckless driving has resulted in you being injured and your property damaged. You should be able to claim the full cost of any medical treatment you have had to have, the cost of repairing your vehicle, lost earnings, a sum for the pain and suffering experienced and punitive damages, meant to punish the road rage driver in their pocket.
Road Rage and Aggressive Driving
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) keeps records of traffic accidents and their causes. They acknowledge that what is generally recognized as road rage is on the rise, even if fatalities per U.S. passenger mile have overall decreased. The NHTSA outlines a distinction between aggressive driving and road rage. Aggressive driving, for example, speeding, tailgating, running a red light, weaving in and out of lanes and cutting another driver off are all citable offenses in most states. If there is an escalation, then aggressive driving may lead to road rage, i.e. violent behavior directed at other road users.
How Prevalent Is Road Rage?
Because what may be called road rage ranges from relatively minor behavior such as honking a horn or gesticulating all the way through to physically damaging another person’s car or even threatening another road user with a gun, it’s hard to know just how common this behavior really is. The evidence tends to be anecdotal and subject to interpretation. At the lower end of the road rage spectrum, what one person may view as an aggressive behavior may be disregarded by someone else. Most people, however, would agree that ramming someone else’s car or getting out of a car at traffic lights and pointing a gun at another driver would definitely be classed as road rage.
Why Do People Get So Angry?
There are many different theories as to why people get so angry when driving that they show their anger to other road users. The NHTSA lists several reasons for road rage behavior, including the following:
- Frustration at traffic congestion and delays;
- Stuck behind a slower moving vehicle;
- Running late for work or an appointment
- The aggressive response to the genuinely poor driving behavior of others, e.g. tailgating;
- Internal emotional turmoil unrelated to traffic conditions;
- Lack of consideration and respect for other road users;
- Intoxication or effects of drugs;
- Disregard for the law.
A Sensible Response to Road Rage
If you feel that you have become the attention for a case of road rage, it is important not to antagonize the angry driver anymore. It is far more important than you and the occupants of your vehicle stay safe. Rather than exchange insults or threats, stay calm and move out of the way of the offending driver. If you are in your vehicle when an irate driver approaches you, wind up the windows and call 911. Make a note of the license plate, description of the vehicle and the driver who is behaving angrily. If you have been rammed or your vehicle hit by a road rage driver, call 911. If you, or anyone else, have been injured, ask for police and an ambulance.
After you have received medical treatment and your car has been taken to a repair yard, contact Injury Lawyer San Antonio to discuss the legal options you can take against the driver. Contact the law firm in San Antonio at 956-631-3535.