From 2004 to 2013, the number of deaths attributed to accidents where road rage or aggressive driving was involved has risen by nearly 1,000 percent from 26 to 247 deaths. Data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) only includes information about road rage incidents that resulted in one or more deaths versus accidents that were non-fatal. Another study conducted by the Washington Post, surveyed drivers from the D.C. area between 2010 to 2013. This study found that the number of drivers who admitted that they suffered “uncontrollable anger toward another driver on the road” had doubled from six to twelve percent.
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What is Road Rage?
The term road rage is used to describe an escalation of aggressive driving and road behaviors that are considered dangerous and possibly deadly. Road rage describes instances of anger and violence that go to extremes along the aggressive driving continuum. To differentiate between aggressive driving and road rage, drivers who are ticketed for aggressive driving are likely to have been speeding or running a red light, which would be considered a traffic violation. Drivers alleged to have committed incidents of road rage could be arrested and charged with a criminal offense. Road rage is an escalation of aggressive driving that may include gesturing at the other driver, yelling at other motorists, physical assaults or murder.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted a study of 10,000 road rage incidents and determined that there was a 51 percent increase of serious accidents during 1990-1996. Over 60 percent of the respondents reported that unsafe driving by others is a threat to his or her families. Meanwhile, aggressive driving incidents continue to increase by an estimated seven percent each year.
What Triggers Road Rage
A 2013 study conducted by Toronto’s Centre for Addiction analyzed over 5,624 complaints drivers made regarding road rage. They found that the following triggers could lead to road rage, including:
- Weaving and Cutting
- Hostile display of gestures
- Violent display
Who is Likely to Have Road Rage?
Anyone could commit an incident of road rage, including mild-mannered people who have just had a bad day. People who have poor impulse control may explode in aggressive behavior. However, once they get behind the wheel, they can be a danger to others. And when they cause a car accident, the other driver may be faced with hiring an injury or car accident lawyer to defend their rights.