At some point in our lives, we all experience some form of road rage or aggressive driving. Whether we are the ones facilitating the behavior or on the receiving end—road rage is a losing proposition for everyone involved.
We see news stories all the time of vehicle collisions caused by road rage. Just last month, a Subaru driver rammed a Jeep three different times while on Highway 516 in Kent, Washington. The Subaru driver was frustrated with cars illegally passing her on the shoulder, so she decided to take out her frustration on the driver of the Jeep. Not a good idea to say the least.
Although both drivers were in the wrong and cited for their actions, that type of aggressive behavior can easily lead to serious accidents, injuries and even death. According to research by The Trace, a news nonprofit, acts of road rage involving firearms have doubled since 2014.
According to the Washington State Patrol, aggressive driving (road rage) incidents are becoming more commonplace in today’s society. Chief John R. Batiste surmises that the increase in aggressive driving incidents could stem from the high paced lifestyles that have become commonplace in our society and the premium we place on our time. Whatever the reason, we all need to slow down and take a deep breath. Someone cutting you off in traffic is never justification for retaliating and potentially landing yourself in jail.
Washington State is unique in that we are one of the first states in America to have an Aggressive Driving Apprehension Team (ADAT) deployed on the highways. This program consists of several unmarked police cars that have cameras attached to the dashboard. They are specifically on the lookout for aggressive drivers and incidents of road rage. Aggressive drivers beware. Big brother is watching!
Aggressive driving comes in many different forms. It could be something as simple as another driver flashing an obscene gesture or slamming on the brakes when you get too close.
AAA estimates that around 80% of drivers experience road rage of some form or another at least once in the past year. Some examples of these incidents include:
The AAA study also showed that almost two out of three drivers think that road rage incidents are more commonplace now than they were three years ago. AAA goes on to cite that nine out of every ten drivers feel that aggressive drivers are an extreme threat to their safety on the road.
It’s no surprise that male drivers between the ages of 19-39 were more likely to engage in aggressive behavior while behind the wheel. Male drivers are three times as likely to get into a road rage incident as a female driver. Take time to talk to your teenager or young adult drivers. Explain the importance of keeping a cool head while driving. This will keep them safe and avoid legal headaches, including jail time, down the road.
To prevent aggressive driving accidents, my team and I at Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel suggest being more tolerant and forgiving on the road. It may seem like obvious advice, but it’s a good reminder to all drivers (myself included). If someone cuts you off or otherwise causes offense on the road, just remember that they are not attacking you personally. If you see a car speeding past you, it could very well be someone with a medical emergency.
We also suggest avoiding unnecessary eye contact with other drivers, along with not making any gestures towards other drivers. Any time your eyes are off the road is an opportunity for an accident to occur. Just think how mad you would be causing an accident because you were yelling at another driver who cut you off. The best way to arrive safely at your destination is to keep your eyes on the road and your thoughts to yourself.
You should also maintain space around your vehicle in case the other driver is acting aggressively. Tailgating is a common cause of road rage. If someone is tailgating you, try to change lanes to avoid the tailgater. If that doesn’t work, pull off the road when safe and let the tailgater pass.
If you can’t ignore the person in the other car and they continue to harass you while driving, try pulling into a safe area and report the driver to the authorities. Try to identify the vehicle and driver if possible.
If you’re involved in a road rage-related auto accident Washington, the first thing you need to do is try to stay calm and collected. You have no idea of the mental state of the other driver. This can lead to physical altercations or further endanger you.
After the police have the scene under control and you’ve received any medical attention needed, contact a trusted and experienced injury attorney. My team and I at Evergreen Personal Injury Counsel have years of experience in helping Washington drivers who have suffered injuries on the road, including accidents involving aggressive driving. We are here to fight for your case and get the justice that you deserve.
This article was originally published on John Christensen’s website.