Yes and no; road rage is a type of aggressive driving, but not all aggressive driving escalates to road rage. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), aggressive driving is “a label for a category of dangerous on-the-road behaviors,” like speeding, tailgating, and weaving through traffic; and road rage describes “the angry and violent behaviors at the extreme of the aggressive driving continuum.”
Although aggressive driving is dangerous, it is not a crime, but road rage is a criminal offense (aside from the yelling and gesticulating that fall within the definition of road rage).
Examples of Aggressive Driving
As AAA explains, aggressive driving can include any intentional unsafe driving behavior. Examples of aggressive driving include:
- Driving too fast for traffic or road conditions
- Following too closely
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Changing lanes without signaling
- “Cutting off” other drivers
- Blocking cars attempting to pass or change lanes
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Flashing your brights or high beams
- Brake checking other drivers
Aggressive drivers engage in hostile thinking and are more likely to take risks on the road. They have a disregard for safety and put themselves and others in danger.
Examples of Road Rage
Occasionally, aggressive driving rises to the level of road rage. Examples of road rage include:
- Yelling or cursing at another driver
- Flipping another driver off (and other obscene gestures)
- Throwing objects from the car
- Intentionally causing an accident (ramming or sideswiping)
- Running another driver off the road
In extreme cases, road rage can escalate to confrontation, physical assault, and even murder.
Where Did the Term Road Rage Come From?
The term, “road rage,” was invented by a local news station (KTLA) after a string of shootings on the freeways of Los Angeles. Road rage is defined as “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.”
In some cases, drivers use their vehicles as weapons and try to cause accidents on the road. In others, they become so angry that they follow the other driver home to enact their revenge.
What to Do if You Encounter an Aggressive Driver on the Road
Aggressive driving not only puts everyone at risk, but it can also escalate quickly. If you encounter an aggressive driver on the road, give them as much space as you possibly can. Slow down or change lanes if necessary, and always give yourself an out. Often, letting the aggressive driver pass you or just getting out of their way is the best way to get rid of them.
Whatever you do, do not engage with the aggressive driver in any way. If the driver is gesturing at you or being rude, resist the temptation to react. Challenging an aggressive driver will only escalate the situation.
If you can, note the car’s license plate number and try to remember a description of the driver and their vehicle. When it’s safe, report the driver to the police to help protect others on the road.
Always put your safety first. If an aggressive driver starts to follow you, keep your doors locked, call 911, and drive to the nearest police station. Do not stop or try to confront the driver.
If an aggressive driver attacks you with their vehicle, do what you can to avoid a car accident. If an accident is inescapable, call 911 and do not leave your car until authorities arrive.
Car accidents caused by road rage and aggressive driving can lead to serious injuries, so you may also need a lawyer to help protect your interests in court.
Our attorneys at Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. have been helping people through the aftermath of car accidents since 1997. If an aggressive driver caused your accident, we can help you recover the compensation you deserve.
We prioritize our clients and offer personalized service, so you can get a sense of justice after senseless anger puts you in harm’s way.
Our legal team has over 100 years of combined experience, and we are ready to put it to work for you. To speak with an attorney at our firm, please call us at (603) 288-1403 or contact us online.