Road rage is something that many drivers encounter every day, in some form or another. This dangerous behavior encompasses many negative actions while behind the wheel of a vehicle, all directed by the unchecked anger of a driver. Road rage and aggressive driving incidents may include shouted insults, rude gestures, and intentionally reckless or dangerous driving maneuvers, such as following too closely, attempts to ram other vehicles, cutting off other drivers, and intentionally slamming on the brakes to cause a crash. In some cases, it even escalates to physical violence outside the vehicle.
How can you de-escalate an incident before it gets worse, and what should you do after you’re involved in an accident with an enraged driver? Here’s what you need to know about how to protect yourself—and your legal rights.
Avoiding Aggressive Drivers
Statistics on road rage incidents aren’t routinely kept by law enforcement, but there have been self-reporting studies performed recently. According to a 2014 study conducted by the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety, over 78 percent of drivers admitted to engaging in one or more aggressive driving behaviors in the previous year. Nearly twelve percent of drivers surveyed reported intentionally cutting off another driver, and almost three percent reported intentionally bumping or ramming another vehicle.
With statistics like these, it’s very likely that you’ll find yourself in a situation with an aggressive driver on the road at some point. When it happens, remember that you’re sharing the road with someone who is thinking irrationally, so your safest bet is to disengage from the situation—and to keep your own emotions in check.
By avoiding eye contact and not exchanging words or hand gestures with the infuriated driver, you may be able to diffuse the situation before it gets worse. Slow down and change lanes to let the other driver pass and put some distance between you, if you can. Never pull over or exit the vehicle to confront an aggressive driver. If you must stop while an angry driver is following you, try to stop in front of a police station or other busy area, stay in the car, and call 911 if you feel threatened.
What to Do After an Accident Caused by Road Rage
If an aggressive driving incident has progressed to a crash caused by road rage, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself immediately. Here’s what you should do after another driver causes a road rage accident:
- Remain calm. Don’t engage the driver or respond either verbally or with rude gestures. He or she isn’t thinking clearly, so it’s up to you to remain clear-headed. Keep your cool, even if you’re upset, too. Your goal is to de-escalate the situation as safely as possible.
- Call 911. Contact the police right away and let them know that you’ve been in an accident, and whether you’re still being threatened by the other driver.
- Stay in the car. If it’s safe to do so, stay in your vehicle with the doors locked and the windows rolled up. If you must exit the vehicle because the accident has made it too unsafe to stay inside, keep far away from the enraged driver, and seek help nearby.
Try to take note of any relevant details of the accident that you can, as well, including the other driver’s description, vehicle, and license plate number, but remember that your safety comes first. Stay focused on protecting yourself and your passengers from further harm until law enforcement arrives.
Protect Your Legal Rights
While the police will be responsible for handling any criminal charges that may result from the accident, you may still wish to pursue a lawsuit in civil court. Before you agree to any settlements from the other driver’s insurance company, a personal injury attorney can help you determine what your legal options are as a victim of a road rage accident. You may be owed compensation for medical bills, rehabilitation, trauma therapy, vehicle repair or replacement, and more. Your attorney will be able to help you determine what your next legal steps should be.
Get Legal Help Now
Wayne Wright LLP has been protecting the legal rights of the injured for decades, and we’re here to help you and your family after a road rage accident. To find out how we can help you seek the money you may be legally owed after your crash, call us by phone, send an email through our contact form, or click the live chat box to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation today.