Many Americans experience or witness road rage — sometimes every day. Most of the time, it’s restricted to yelling, flipping the bird, or honking the horn, and it can happen whether you’ve moved across the lane in front of the other driver or you’ve done nothing at all. Sometimes, a driver is just having a bad day or may be intoxicated, fatigued, or distracted.
While it’s frustrating and unpleasant, most cases of road rage end innocently. In other cases, road rage can lead to reckless driving, causing a major crash that results in significant injury. It’s no surprise that road rage is a common cause of car accidents. We look at reckless driving laws in Texas and why road rage is so dangerous.
What Is Considered Reckless Driving in Texas?
Section 545.401 of the Texas Transportation Code defines reckless driving as:
“[driving] a vehicle in wilful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.”
This means that reckless driving isn’t purely a case of a driver being negligent — they also understand that their reckless actions are likely to cause harm to another.
Some common examples of reckless driving in Texas include:
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Driving while intoxicated
- Street racing
- Not letting other drivers change lanes
- Cutting drivers off
- Passing other vehicles illegally
- Disregarding traffic signs or signals
- Driving erratically.
Shocking Statistics That Show the Dangers of Road Rage
When faced with an aggressive driver, you might not realize just how dangerous road rage can get. We might even partly understand their situation — it’s normal to feel frustrated or even angry when another driver isn’t obeying the laws of the road. But when road rage crosses the line into reckless driving in Texas — one of the country’s most accident-prone states — the results can be disastrous.
Just some of the statistics that highlight the dangers of road rage include:
- 53% of drivers think driving 10 mph over the speed limit is acceptable
- 94% of car crashes are caused by human error, with aggressive driving one of the top categories
- 50% of drivers get aggressive when faced with road rage, including shouting, horn honking, and making rude gestures
- Aggressive driving is responsible for 56% of all traffic fatalities.
Why Do People Get So Angry?
There are many theories as to why people get so angry when driving that they show their anger to other road users. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) lists several reasons for road rage behavior, including the following:
- Frustration at traffic congestion and delays
- Being stuck behind a slower-moving vehicle
- Running late for work or an appointment
- Reacting aggressively to poor driving from others, e.g. tailgating
- Lack of consideration and respect for other road users
- Intoxication or effects of drugs
- Disregard for the law.
How to Avoid the Dangers of Road Rage in Texas
The best way to avoid experiencing reckless driving in Texas is to de-escalate any signs of road rage in others. If you feel an aggressive driver has turned their attention to you, try not to antagonize them further. Your priority should be your safety and the safety of any others in your vehicle. Instead of exchanging insults or threats, even if you’re angry that they tailgated you or are making rude gestures, stay calm and move out of their way.
If you start to see road rage while the other driver is still in their car, back away by changing lanes or creating space between you and the other driver. This can also help you evade crashes if they suddenly turn in or change direction.
If the aggressive driver becomes confrontational or threatens you, wind up your windows, lock your doors, and call 911. If you can, make a note of their license plate and note the details of the vehicle and the driver.
What to Do If Reckless Driving Caused Your Accident: What Reckless Driving Laws Say
If you were in an accident due to reckless driving in Texas, you should first call law enforcement and seek medical help.
According to Texas reckless driving laws, driving recklessly is a criminal misdemeanor that carries several penalties. These penalties are:
- A fine of up to $200
- A jail sentence of up to 30 days
- A fine and prison sentence.
This means that if an aggressive driver was involved in a hit-and-run, speeding, street racing, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they may face additional charges, resulting in a higher fine or longer sentence.
But a criminal charge won’t do anything for you as the victim of reckless driving. YOu must file a personal injury claim to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages from being unable to work, the cost of repairs to your vehicle, and additional damages for pain and suffering. If the case goes to trial, you may also receive punitive damages designed to punish the defendant, warn the public of the dangers of road rage, and deter others from engaging in similar behavior.
To successfully claim compensation after an accident caused by reckless driving, you must prove that the other driver was negligent. If the at-fault driver violates Texas reckless driving laws, as outlined in the Texas Transportation Code, this satisfies the requirement of negligence, as, by definition, reckless driving is the “wanton disregard” for another’s safety.
This makes it vital to collect evidence from the crime scene (including photographs and police reports) and medical evidence of your injuries.
After your accident, you may be approached by the other party’s insurance company. They will ask you about the incident to glean any information they could use against you. If the other driver was aggressive, they might try to get you to admit that you were initially confrontational or acting aggressively in response and that this led to the accident. It’s vital to watch what you say to an insurance adjuster, as it could affect the outcome of your claim.
You may also want to hire a car accident lawyer in McAllen to handle your claim on your behalf. Our Texas personal injury lawyers will collect evidence, follow up with witnesses to the accident, secure expert witness testimony, and negotiate a fair settlement. If we believe you may be entitled to a higher payout by going to court and that you have a strong argument, we may advise litigation.
If you’ve been in an accident because another driver violates reckless driving laws in Texas, you may be able to claim compensation. Contact our personal injury lawyers in McAllen and San Antonio for a free, no-obligation case review and find out how much compensation you could be entitled to.