Once you start looking into road rage cases it seems as though there is an endless supply of them. Type in ‘road rage cases’ in the search window of your browser and you’ll be amazed at what pops up. When I typed in those words I saw that there were over 759,000 results just waiting for my curious mind to read them all. Of course, It would take me weeks, if not months to get through a long list like that, so I just clicked on the interesting headings in the first few web pages.
One of the headings said that a Texas judge was accused of pointing a gun at a motorist in a road rage case and the headline below it talked about fatal road rage cases highlighting Japan’s aggressive driving habits. Apparently, road rage happens in just about every country on the planet. Now, road rage isn’t always about shooting another driver on the road, it could be yelling at that person or rude gestures or any number of things that might intimidate or threaten a driver or a pedestrian. Most of us have experienced some form of road rage, whether it was venting our own frustration at someone else or if we were the target of another driver’s anger or frustration.
We saw a typical case of road rage the other day at a stop sign in a small town. A woman was in the car in front of a man and she stopped at the stop sign. There were no other cars waiting to through the intersection except the car behind her. We were walking on the sidewalk and hadn’t yet reached the crosswalk so we weren’t a factor in why the woman wasn’t moving. Wasn’t moving may be the wrong phrase entirely, perhaps it should be stopped with no apparent intention of ever going forward and out of the intersection. The man yelled something like, “Come on Lady. Let’s go!” And she very casually gave him the finger and then leisurely drove off.
Fortunately the man didn’t follow her and confront her. The look on his face was that of total surprise and when we talked to him through his open passenger window, he said he didn’t think she had heard him say anything and that when she flipped him off he couldn’t believe it. He also said that he didn’t follow her for several reasons. First of all, his anger almost pushed him to confront her but then he thought he should just let it go because in the big picture, the whole thing was rather meaningless. Secondly, he thought it would be stupid for him to get killed over something as ridiculous as a traffic misunderstanding. He said that because it was an open carry gun state and if she did have a gun she might shoot him as soon as he approached her car.
He also told us that it was a learning situation for him and he felt that he had been given a second chance or a re-do and that he would be careful from that point on. He said that you just never know who you’re dealing with in those kinds of incidents so it’s better to get home alive than to never get home at all.
No one is immune from road rage and it can happen at any time and any place and on any road or highway. Many agencies see road rage as assault and battery cases, which have a great deal of influence when the case is brought to trial. A personal injury claim can be pursued by the victim much easier when there is an injury caused by road rage when the police officer considers the road rage to be assault and battery. Victims of road rage should immediately call the police when an incident occurs and especially if there is an injury or damage to property. If medical help is needed then the victim should go as soon as possible to a hospital or to see a medical professional. Witness names and contact information should be taken at the scene of the incident and then, a person Injury Attorney should be hired right away to pursue a case against the assailant and his or her insurance company.
If you are injured in a road rage incident your Personal Injury Attorney can help you be reimbursed for lost wages, medical costs and those in the future, and any costs to repair your vehicle if it was damaged at that time. Punitive damages will also be considered by your lawyer because of the criminal and aggressive nature of the road rage crime. By the way, any criminal charges would be separate from the civil case where many of your damages would be reimbursed. The cases would be separate but the people testifying and their testimonies would most likely be the same. Aggressive driving is taken very serious by most courts in the United States and your attorney will do everything he or she can to win your case in court or to make an out of court settlement that is satisfactory to you.
We said earlier that most of us have experienced some form of road rage. We still believe that but let’s refine that idea a bit. See if this familiar to you. You’re driving through town and someone is tailgating you so close that you find yourself continually watching them from your rearview mirror. We’ve all done that, right? Right. What thoughts are going through your mind as this is unfolding? Are you happy as a lark that someone would want to follow you that close? Of course not! Are you a bit scared that if you step on the brakes that the car behind you will suddenly land in the front seat and your car and even worse, yourself will be damaged beyond recognition? Well, that’s more like it. Can you feel the anger build up inside of you and can you feel the knot in your dry throat getting bigger and bigger and bigger? Yep, it’s always the same – pretty much with everyone. Now, here’s where the wise ones break away from the dregs of humanity and decide, they CHOOSE to take control of the situation and let that person behind them have his or her way.
That tailgater is obviously in a hurry and you can do him and yourself a favor by simply getting out of the way and letting them speed on down the road without you blocking their way. If you can do this without losing your temper, then you may have just saved your life and the tailgater’s.
Here are some very interesting statistics on road rage incidents in the U.S. compiled by the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration):
- Aggressive driving accounts for 66% of traffic fatalities.
- Firearms are involved in 37%of aggressive driving incidents.
- The most likely people to exhibit road rage are males under the age of 19.
- Half the drivers who are targets of aggressive behavior, such as rude gestures or tailgating admit respond with aggressive behavior themselves.
- 218 murders and 12,610 injuries over a seven-year period, were blamed on road rage.
Here’s one to think about:
- 2% of drivers admit to trying to run an aggressor off the road!
Are You To Blame?
Do you think that you might be the cause of someone else’s road rage. Could your driving etiquette and behavior provoke others to be aggressive toward you?
Ask yourself these questions to see where you stand in all of this. This is not a test and you won’t be graded on your answers. You will, however, need to grade yourself in the privacy of your own mind and decide for yourself (and no one else) if your driving courtesy is up to standard and not aggressive.
• Do you tailgate?
• Do you keep your high beams on even when traffic is coming your way?
• Do you use your turn signals appropriately?
• Do you use your cell phone while you are driving?
• Do you box other drivers in so they can’t move ahead or change lanes?
• Do you yell at other drivers?
• Do you eat while driving?
• Do you go to slow in the fast lane?
• Do you use rude or obscene gestures toward other drivers?
You get the point and since we all answered these questions we all know what’s what and who is guilty of perhaps provoking aggressive behavior in other drivers. We are all people and we all (most of us, that is,) experience similar feelings. We also react to much of the same stimuli, so when someone tailgates us or cuts us off or flips us off we almost can’t help but to take it as a personal insult and an attack on our air space, or should we say, car space. “We were there first!” And how about the old standby, “I can do whatever I want because this road is mine too.” There are hundreds of rationalizations that drivers use to justify their bad manners. Their actions are inconsiderate and selfish and those kinds of feelings many times lead right up to road rage itself. Speaking of manners and courtesy, there seems to be a real shortage of these wonderful and rare commodities nowadays. What happened to “Sure, you go first, not a problem.” “Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize I was so close to your car.” There are many more of these positive and kind phrases that simply aren’t used any longer for one reason or another. Perhaps we all just forgot that those other living and breathing entities who are behind the wheels of those cars next to us are people too.
Maybe we could end or at the very least, reduce road rage incidents by looking at the arch enemy who is tail gating us as our mother or our daughter or our son. We could then ask ourselves how we would treat them if it were a family member.
China has seen an increase in road rage occurrences in the last several years. According to the South China Morning Post there were over 17 million road rage incidents in 2015 and not surprising, was the fact that most of them, over 97%, were committed by men. Most of the road rage was caused by distracted drivers, most of whom were on their cell phones. You can see thousands of Chinese road rage incidents on YouTube and they are not very pleasant to watch.
Great Britain is Great for any number of reasons including their ability to reach the number one spot in so many categories. One category that they are number one in but maybe not so proud of is they are considered the road rage capital of Europe. They are also in first place in the race to express discontent and relieve frustration by making obscene gestures. Now, this certainly doesn’t make them bad people and we love the Brits, but it does show the world that even one of the most civilized countries in the world has problems with anger management and road rage.
Statistically, around 80% of Great Britain’s citizens have been victims of some level of road rage. To be fair to our British friends, Finland and Switzerland are close behind at around 60%, which, once again, illustrates that civilization may not be so civil at all. We also found through reading Britain’s Independent.com news that German and Dutch drivers are legendary tailgaters and Portugal is full of drivers love to flash their headlights at full beam – right into oncoming traffic. Go figure.
The RAC Foundation, which explores issues relating to roads and their users has two categories for road rage drivers. The first one is for unreconstructed offenders. That is, those who bring their anti-social behavior behind the wheel of the car and who make no effort to manage their road rage tendencies. The next one houses drivers who are relatively and usually calm but who react in a negative way to certain circumstances while driving on the road.
They have come to the conclusion that women are as liable to fall into road rage hell as men are. One example they used was a vicar’s wife actually punching another woman who ‘stole’ her parking space. They observed that one’s universe seems to transform as soon as one gets into a car and behind the wheel. It the two women would have accidentally bumped into each other while walking on the sidewalk they would have most likely apologized profusely to each other and then been on their way. The sidewalk scenario, however, wouldn’t call for a Personal Injury Attorney to be involved, but the road rage incident could be considered a crime and someone could get arrested and sent to jail for the personal injury they caused. The aggressor could also be sued in civil court for the injury she caused.
In New Delhi, the capital of India, there was an argument at a pizza parlor and the aggressor ran over the victim with a ruck when they left the restaurant. And then he backed up and ran him over in reverse. He faces the death penalty and we hope that he is sued in civil court before he loses his life.
The term ‘Road Rage’ was coined in the 1980s in California. The term came into use because the act of road rage came into being and there were a rash of shootings on several Los Angeles freeways during that time. Road rage still happens but the incidents are just not as deadly as they once were. During that time, it almost became a commonplace occurrence to read about someone getting shot while driving their car. One Saturday morning in Orange County, California, people were lined up in their vehicles to enter the swap meet and get a booth to sell their wares. Apparently, one man wasn’t moving fast enough so the driver of the car behind him pulled out a small caliber pistol and shot at the slow man’s car. The gunman though he had only hit the car and drove in to the swap meet. The victim, however, had been shot in the spine and the paramedics saved his life but he was destined to be a quadriplegic. The shooter? Well, he ruined many lives that day including his and his wife’s and the victim and his family. The gunman was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life. It’s interesting how just a moment of insanity and anger can devastate lives forever. Everything changed for those two families and they would never be the same again.
Different cities can produce different results. Los Angeles is considered a city with the least courteous drivers although it doesn’t stand alone in that regard. Phoenix, Boston, New York and Miami are also on par with L.A. in the driving courtesy category. When driving in these great cities one should never make eye contact with other drivers and you should keep your windows rolled up as much as possible. The window concept has two purposes, both related. The first is so other drivers can’t you yelling obscenities at them and the second is so you can’t hear the profanities they are hurling at you. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it.
There are other safety suggestions for staying out of harm’s way. Keep your horn honking to a minimum – the bare minimum. Also, change lanes as soon as a tailgater is behind you – and remember don’t make eye contact with him because he might take it as a challenge to his right to be on the freeway and thus his right to be alive. Yes, that was quite a leap, wasn’t it? But that’s how quickly crazy can turn into aggressive insanity and violent road rage, so be careful. One of the best things you can do to stay alive on any freeway is to live by the rule that you always let the aggressor pass you and get away from you. Remember, you have a cell phone and you can report him to the police but just don’t let him see you using your phone because he might actually think that you are calling the police on him.
Your Personal Injury Attorney will give you solid advice on how to avoid aggressive drivers in the future. He will also fight for you if you’ve been in a road rage incident and have been injured. He will thoroughly investigate the road rage scene and he will interview all the witnesses, including the police officers who were there. He will know what to do and which court papers to file and when. His mission, once he is on board with you is to get the most money for you to pay for medical costs, both now and in the future and to get you reimbursed for lost wages and car repair and car rental if needed.
The important thing for you to do once you’ve been in a road rage incident is to make sure that you are physically okay and that the aggressive driver isn’t coming back. Don’t depend on anyone else to get his car’s license plate numbers because they might not think it’s important. It is very important and if you can, you should write it down along with a description of the assailant. Sometimes the guilty aggressors will flee the scene so it’s important to get as much information to identify him as possible.
Once you have that information you should go to the doctor’s office or a hospital immediately and tell them in detail what happened and let them check you out for potential injuries. There are two reasons for doing this: one is for your physical health and well being and the second is to document what happened and that you were injured. Medical records are an important document signed by a state recognized medical professional and that document is one that will be honored in court when you and your Personal Injury Attorney sue the person who hurt you.
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