What is Road Rage?
Road rage is a commonly used term to describe aggressive drivers. But did you know that road rage refers to a specific set of aggressive behaviors that are quite distinct from aggressive driving? Below learn the distinct differences of road rage and aggressive driving from our experienced auto injury accident lawyers.
Aggressive Driving vs Road Rage
Although the two are related, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety defines aggressive driving as: “any unsafe driving maneuver performed deliberately and with ill intention or disregard for safety.”
Aggressive driving can be defined as:
- Changing lanes without signaling
- Running red lights
- Cutting in front of another driver and slowing down immediately afterward
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Blocking cars attempting to pass or change lanes
- Flashing headlights or slowing down abruptly to communicate anger at their driving
Road rage can be defined as extreme kinds of aggressive driving. Examples include:
- Ramming a vehicle
- Sideswiping a vehicle
- Forcing a car off the road
- Cursing and rude or obscene gestures
Road rage can even manifest as physical aggression in-person, such as threatening another driver with a machete.
Unfortunately, most U.S. drivers are probably all too familiar with aggressive driving and road rage. One study by the American Automobile Association identified these dangerous driving behaviors in 56 percent of fatal crashes.
What Should I Do if I’m a Victim of Road Rage? (7 Steps)
1.) Focus on Your Safety.
Many people respond to road rage with yet more aggression. After all, if a driver tries to force you off the road, it is quite natural to become fearful and angry. It is in your best interest, however, to calm down and focus on your safety. In this scenario, your best option would be to find a safe way to pull over and get away from the road rager, or if you were driven off the road, to return to the road and away from any hazards safely.
Don’t engage with the road rager. It’s potentially very dangerous, especially if the individual is armed or has an object they can use against you.
By “engage,” we mean any physical or verbal confrontation, including things like gestures or yelling. Stay inside your vehicle at all times, call the police, and let them sort it out.
2.) See a Doctor.
If you’re at all injured in a road rage incident, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Go to an emergency room or your doctor and tell them about the incident. They can check you out for injuries, diagnose any, and treat them.
You may not feel like your injuries are serious, but it is best to err on the side of caution. For instance, mild traumatic brain injury might not cause a lot of pain but could still carry long-term impacts.
3.) Call Law Enforcement Or 911.
After a road rage incident, call law enforcement as soon as you can. When law enforcement arrives, explain to them what occurred. Give as complete a description as possible of the events, the other driver, and their vehicle; if you have pictures of the other driver and their car to provide law enforcement, even better. In some cases, surveillance footage may show the accident—for example, if the incident happened in a store’s parking lot or other location likely to be under surveillance cameras.
4.) Get a Record From Law Enforcement.
After you talk to law enforcement about the incident, they will follow up as appropriate. If the driver is still around, law enforcement may arrest them and bring criminal charges.
As an important side note, criminal charges do not compensate victims, and they do not prohibit civil action by victims to recover compensation for injuries suffered in an accident.
It is worth your while to keep evidence of the incident. Ask law enforcement if they are willing to provide a copy of their report, and you may also want to write down personal notes about the incident.
There are many reasons you want to keep a good record of the incident. For example, if you or other occupants were injured or your vehicle was damaged, you may want to seek damage compensation from the other driver. To succeed, you’ll need evidence to support your version of the story.
5.) Talk to Eyewitnesses, if Possible.
Eyewitnesses can also provide valuable information. If eyewitnesses pullover or are present, talk to them about what they saw. Get their contact information, such as email.
Keep an eye on social media and news reports, too. In some cases, road rage incidents have been filmed by eyewitnesses who do not stop and talk to the victim—but the eyewitnesses do put them on social media or speak to news reporters.
6.) See a Physician.
Even if you don’t think you are injured, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Go to a clinic or your doctor and tell them about the incident. They can check you out for injuries, diagnose any, and treat them.
Don’t ever rely solely on your feelings about your injuries after an accident. You may not feel like your injuries are serious—or not feel any at all. But you could receive a severe injury, such as a mild traumatic brain injury, and feel seemingly fine. Not all injuries feel painful, and many can feel like nothing.
7.) Keep All Medical Records.
Keep all records of medical visits and treatment. They, too, can provide valuable evidence if you bring a legal claim.
What About Compensation for Road Rage Incident Injuries?
If a road rage accident injured you, it’s to your advantage to consult a personal injury attorney.
In a fault-state, the road rager and their insurance company should be responsible for compensating you; if you bring a claim with your insurance, they will likely turn to the at-fault party’s insured.
An attorney can help you figure out where to turn to for compensation, including, potentially, a civil lawsuit to recover compensation insurance is unwilling to provide.
In a road rage lawsuit, an attorney can be even more valuable. In a non-road-rage accident, drivers often stay on the scene and exchange insurance information as they are supposed to. Road ragers are more likely, by contrast, hit-and-run. In such a case, pinning down what evidence you have to work with may be difficult. An experienced car accident attorney can help you brainstorm and identify evidence you may not find on your own.
These are just some reasons to contact a road rage accident attorney after a road rage incident. Many personal injury attorneys offer free consultations to learn about your options and figure out whether it is worth your while to pursue legal action.
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