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What Is the Difference Between Road Rage and Aggressive Driving?

What Is the Difference Between Road Rage and Aggressive Driving?

Aggressive driving is never acceptable, but it isn’t always a crime. While endangering someone else’s life or vehicle can get a driver in trouble during a personal injury case or civil trial, road rage is a criminal offense that indicates the car or truck in question was used as a weapon.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA):

Aggressive driving is when an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses that endangers other persons or property… A distinction is made between the traffic offense of aggressive driving and the criminal offense of road rage, defined as ‘an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of one motor vehicle or precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway.’”

Simply put, aggressive driving is a traffic offense that happens on the roadway, and road rage is a crime that can follow you home. Aggressive driving can easily escalate into road rage, but road rage does not occur in every case of aggressive driving.

What Kinds of Behavior Constitute Aggressive Driving?

Most drivers have behaved aggressively on the road at one point or another. Honking in non-emergency situations or communicating anger to another driver can qualify as aggressive driving.

Other actions that indicate aggressive driving include:

  • Speeding in heavy traffic
  • Running red lights
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Changing lanes without signaling
  • Tailgating
  • “Brake checking” or using your brakes to “punish” other drivers
  • Flashing your high beams at other drivers
  • Intentionally cutting someone off
  • Blocking another driver’s lane change
  • Making obscene gestures

Cursing or gesturing at another driver can quickly escalate into road rage. Someone could respond to these unkind remarks by throwing objects, attempting to ram your vehicle, or forcing you off the road.

In extreme cases, the person could follow you home and take their revenge outside of both vehicles.

While it might be tempting to honk at someone or “flip him or her the bird,” teaching someone a lesson is never worth your life.

Even if someone else behaves aggressively towards you on the road, do not retaliate with more aggression. Instead, try to ignore the other driver, avoid eye contact, and get out of his or her way.

Again, a safe drive home is worth more than making a point.

How Does Aggressive Driving Play into Accidents?

Per statistics on SafeMotorist.com gathered from the NHTSA and other sources, 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving and 37% of road rage incidents involve a firearm. Over a 7-year period, 218 people were murdered, and 12,610 injuries resulted from road rage.

Aggressive driving also increases the risk of car accidents. The behaviors we described above are incredibly unsafe and can reduce any driver’s ability to avoid a collision.

Whenever you are behind the wheel, remember to:

  • Maintain an adequate following distance
  • Use your turn signals
  • Check your blind spots
  • Abide by the speed limit
  • Adjust your speed to accommodate traffic
  • Follow all traffic rules
  • Be considerate
  • Allow other drivers to merge
  • Utilize your horn as a tool to prevent accidents
  • Keep your high beams off when around other drivers

If you are confronted by an aggressive driver, stay calm and courteous. Pullover at a public place, like a police station, firehouse, or hospital, and call 911 if you feel threatened.

What If I Get Hurt During an Aggressive Driving or Road Rage Incident?

When someone else’s negligent or intentional wrongdoing causes you harm, you have the right to pursue civil recourse. If you are injured in an accident with an aggressive driver or someone exhibiting road rage commits a crime against you, our attorneys can help you recover.

Discuss your case with our team at Politis & Matovina, P.A. by dialing (386) 333-6613 or requesting a free consultation online.

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