It’s easy to grow frustrated behind the wheel. It seems drivers are always rushing to their next destination, and there is no shortage of annoyances on the road – traffic congestion, construction, slow drivers, drivers not paying attention, and much more. At times, however, one driver’s irritation can escalate into something much more serious – road rage.
What is road rage?
Road rage is defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as occurring when a driver “commits moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property; an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger of one motor vehicle on the operator or passengers of another motor vehicle.” While it may contain elements of aggressive driving
, road rage is an escalation of these behaviors that can constitute a crime, rather than a simple traffic offense. Instances of road rage have grown at a high rate over the past decade, with more than 460 road rage incidents occurring in 2016. Though, it can be difficult to measure the frequency of road rage incidents, as experts say that most incidents go uncounted. Typically, current statistics only identify this behavior when it is associated with a crash.
Common Road Rage Behaviors
According to a 2016 study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, nearly 80 percent of drivers reported experiencing anger, aggression, or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the year leading up to the study. In addition to the aggressive behaviors such as tailgating, speeding, honking, and yelling, road rage often includes more serious actions, such as:
● Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver
● Ramming or bumping another vehicle on purpose
● Blocking another vehicle from changing lanes or otherwise navigating where it intends
● Brandishing a weapon to threaten another driver
● Faking an attempt or actually attempting to run over another driver, pedestrian, or anyone who shares the road
Why Drivers Engage in Dangerous Road Rage Behavior
So, why do drivers behave in this way? What makes them feel they can violate the law and the norms of society? Experts name a few reasons, including:
● Everyday pressures and stress. When other stressors in life are making drivers feel worn out, they lack patience and understanding behind the wheel. Driving can seem like yet another area of frustration, and drivers may snap at one more stress.
Lack of sleep. It’s been widely reported that many Americans don’t get enough sleep
, and when a person is tired, they are quicker to grow irritated and angry.
● Anonymity provided inside the vehicle. A car shields drivers and passengers, both from harm and partially from sight. While a driver may not engage in such behavior face to face, from the safety inside their car, they may become emboldened when angry.
What To Do When Faced With Road Rage in South Carolina
A road rage incident can be extremely frightening – and rightly so. Across the U.S., road rage incidents have resulted in serious injuries and even death. Right here in Myrtle Beach, numerous road rage situations have been reported by local media outlets, with aggressors even brandishing weapons at other drivers. If you find yourself in a tense situation on the road, do your best to remain calm and try to keep these helpful tips in mind:
● Be a polite driver. Do your best to be a calm and courteous driver. Remember we all have bad days, and when you’re behind the wheel, act as you would if you were face to face with the other driver.
● Reduce your stress behind the wheel. The AAA study found that many road rage incidents occur when drivers are already feeling strained. Give yourself extra time to get to your destination, and avoid areas or intersections that you find stressful or upsetting if possible.
● Avoid escalating an edgy situation. When another driver yells or makes a rude gesture, avoid the temptation to respond in kind. Ignore poor behavior, as any reaction will likely make a bad situation worse.
● Attempt to separate yourself. Leave room between your vehicle and the vehicle with the road rage driver. If possible, make a turn away and leave the situation.
● Call authorities. If you feel threatened or unsafe, call the police. Do not hesitate to protect yourself, your passengers, and all those who share the road.
Despite a calm, safe driver’s best efforts, road rage incidents can and do happen. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries caused by a driver in this condition, they can be held accountable. Victims can obtain compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Have You Been Injured In A Charleston South Carolina Area Car Accident?
If you've been injured in a car accident you should speak with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Charleston, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.2359 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.