Last June, road rage on a Harris County road resulted in a man getting shot and killed. The incident has prompted many drivers in the area to ask if local drivers are becoming more erratic. According to officials from TxDot, they are a problem in the state.
"There's a lot of aggressive driving that we're seeing out there," said Danny Perez from TxDOT. "Just keep your emotions in check when you get on the road."
While TxDOT hasn’t supplied road rage statistics, research on the national level indicates that the problem presents an accident risk to all drivers on the road. One major study using data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that aggressive driving was a factor in 56% of fatal accidents in a 4-year period.
According to the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), about two gun-related incidents take place on roads in the United States each day. It also found that 50% of drivers tailgate purposefully and 12% of drivers cut off other cars intentionally.
In other words, road rage is a problem that places drivers throughout Texas and the nation at unnecessary risk.
Aggressive Driving vs. Road Rage: How They're Different
Aggressive driving and road rage are two terms commonly used to describe intentional reckless behavior on the road, and while they might seem similar, they have distinct differences. Both can endanger others, but road rage often takes dangerous driving to a more extreme level. When it comes to aggressive driving versus road rage, there are a few differences (and similarities!) to take into account.
Aggressive Driving: Disregard for Safety
Aggressive driving refers to a pattern of actions that demonstrate a disregard for safety and put other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians at risk.
The TDI lists behaviors that constitute aggressive driving, such as:
- Speeding and weaving in and out of traffic
- Tailgating or following too closely behind another vehicle
- Cutting off another car and intentionally slowing down in front of it
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Changing lanes without signaling or giving proper notice
- Blocking cars from passing or changing lanes
- Passing a vehicle on the wrong side of the road or in prohibited areas
Road Rage: Aggression Taken to the Extreme
In the comparison of aggressive driving versus road rage, you’ll be taking the driver’s actions and intentions into account. Road rage is a more extreme form of aggressive driving, often involving additional hostile behaviors that can escalate to violence. While road rage incidents may include the aggressive driving practices listed above, they also encompass other actions that can be threatening or harmful.
Examples of road rage include:
- Yelling, cursing, or making offensive gestures at other drivers
- Throwing objects at other vehicles or their occupants
- Purposefully hitting or colliding with another vehicle
- Forcing a vehicle off the road or into dangerous situations
- Physically assaulting another driver, passenger, or pedestrian
One of the main differences between aggressive driving versus road rage is the intent of the driver. While an aggressive driver may not intend to cause harm, a person in the heat of road rage is acting with an intent to cause harm—or at least the knowledge that their actions are likely to cause harm.
Road Rage Incidents: A Peak During Rush Hour
Statistics reveal that road rage accidents are most likely to occur during rush hour, with nearly 25% taking place between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays. The increased stress associated with heavy traffic and time constraints may contribute to this spike, but regardless of the reasons, there is no excuse for engaging in dangerous driving behaviors that can harm others.
How Aggressive Driving vs. Road Rage Affects Personal Injury Cases
Aggressive driving and road rage are both dangerous behaviors that can lead to serious car accidents, but they differ in the level of intent behind the actions. Understanding these differences is crucial when it comes to personal injury cases, as it can affect the legal grounds for filing a personal injury claim and seeking compensation for damages.
In most cases, law enforcement is the primary means of addressing aggressive driving behavior, as they have the authority to issue citations, fines, and other penalties for traffic violations. However, when aggressive driving results in a serious accident, the victims might have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver based on negligence.
All drivers have a legal duty to adhere to traffic laws and operate their vehicles in a manner that ensures the safety of others on the road. This responsibility includes following speed limits, being attentive to road conditions, and executing maneuvers safely. Aggressive drivers often disregard these obligations, putting others at risk of severe injuries or even death.
When road rage escalates into intentional wrongdoing, such as assault or purposefully causing an accident, the at-fault driver can be held accountable for the injuries or damages they cause. They may face arrest and criminal charges for their actions. Additionally, victims of accidents resulting from road rage may be eligible to seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages. In cases where a family loses a loved one due to a preventable accident, they may have the option to hold the negligent party responsible through a wrongful death claim.
Regardless of whether a driver acted carelessly (aggressive driving) or intentionally (road rage), victims may still have grounds to file a personal injury claim. The key factor is proving that the at-fault driver's actions were negligent or reckless and that these actions caused the injuries sustained by the victim.
If you have been involved in an accident caused by aggressive driving or road rage, it is essential to consult with an experienced car accident attorney. They can evaluate your case, help determine if you have a valid claim, and guide you through the legal process. Call Arnold & Itkin today at (888) 493-1629 for a free consultation, and let us help you understand your rights and options for pursuing compensation.