It is nearly impossible to realize the full scope of all the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, and now another one may be coming to light: road rage. As more people have returned to the nation’s roads, there have been more road rage incidents being reported in different parts of the United States. Police have said that there has been a spike in incidents during the past 18 months and associate it with people having more stress and tension. This seems to be getting played out on streets and highways, as drivers have exhibited more aggressive, reckless driving behaviors. Unfortunately, these behaviors can cause car accidents and personal injury.
Some Recent Examples of Road Rage
Last April, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, school bus had an encounter with an angry car driver. This bus was stopped around 7:30 a.m., and a driver suddenly cut it off, exited his car, and smashed the bus door window. An earlier incident involved a 23-year-old Charlotte man who shot another young man at a gas station. At the time, the victim was sitting in his truck at a gas station in the middle of the afternoon, with his two young children in the back. The two men did not know each other, and the shooter had been following behind the truck in his Jaguar, weaving in and out of traffic.
Another incident happened in mid-summer in Las Vegas, after an SUV cut off a Jeep close to a busy intersection. One of the passengers in the SUV got out of the vehicle and threw a beer can at the Jeep. The Jeep’s driver got out, and the two men started arguing. The SUV driver ran over the Jeep driver, who was a retired Navy officer. This man later died of blunt force trauma injuries; this death was ruled as a homicide. That same month, a 49-year-old Washington, DC, man died after he was shot in the head during a road rage incident. A woman sideswiped his SUV, and the two then argued before driving away. She then pulled out in front of his SUV and shot him. This took place three blocks away from Vice President Kamala Harris’ house.
Not all road rage situations end in death, but many certainly have the potential for it. Cutting other drivers off at high speeds, throwing objects, and arguing can all lead to accidents and injuries. Less obvious and possibly more common examples of road rage include passing on the shoulder, failing to yield right of way, making rude gestures, flashing high beams, double parking, not waiting to merge, and running through red lights.
It is easy to see how quickly things can escalate, especially if someone involved has a weapon. As everyone’s stress levels have skyrocketed this past 18 months, the increasing frequency and severity of these types of road rage accidents are a serious concern.
Other Road Rage Statistics
Everytown for Gun Safety is a national gun violence prevention organization, and they reported on data provided by the Gun Violence Archive research agency. Last year, there was an average of 42 people per month shot, wounded, or killed in road rage incidents. This is almost twice the monthly average reported for the four years before that. The agency claims that if this alarming trend continues, there could be over 500 of these incidents in 2021. The group’s research director added that in 2021, someone has been killed by a gun or injured by one every 18 hours.
The research director also stated that gun sales have surged since the pandemic. With all the stressors brought on from the crisis, people feel more uncertain and anxious, leading to shorter fuses. Having a gun accessible in the vehicle is a recipe for disaster because it can turn an unpleasant situation into a deadly one. The most recent statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that there were 446 fatal accidents and 502 deaths directly linked to road rage in 2019. Not all road deaths involve guns; victims have been run over, stabbed, and beaten as well.
What Contributes to Road Rage?
As explained, increased stressors can cause road rage, but the chances can also go up when someone is driving under the influence or is the stereotypical impatient and aggressive driver. Drivers who are prejudiced or show racial disrespect may also be more prone to road rage, because they discriminate against other drivers and want to lash out. This kind of poor attitude and immaturity are also some of the main ingredients of road rage.
Environmental factors can also contribute to road rage incidents. Crowded roads often lead to this behavior; how often have you seen another driver weaving in and out of lanes that are packed with slow-moving vehicles? Coming up to a toll booth is another cause, as drivers speed up and cut across lanes to get to the booths faster. Rush hour and holiday seasons are also both prime times for road rage, as people try to race to and from work without much concern for safety.
What Should I Do if I Encounter Road Rage?
A recent study by AAA surveyed driver experiences with road rage, with some admitting their bad behaviors. The respondents claimed that they had engaged in different kinds of aggressive driving, whether they started it themselves or were provoked. Here is some of the data gathered from that survey:
- Tailgating: 51 percent
- Blocking drivers from lane changing: 24 percent
- Purposely cutting off drivers: 12 percent
- Crashing into other vehicles: three percent
- Exiting a vehicle to fight with another driver: four percent
Some of these numbers are surprisingly high, so you can expect to encounter road rage more often than you would like when you are out. When it does happen, the safest move is to stay calm and non-confrontational. Engaging with the aggressor can only escalate the situation, and there is always the possibility that the other person has a weapon. It does not have to be a gun, either; a large, heavy object can cause severe injuries to someone when thrown with force.
When another driver starts tailgating you, slow down just a bit, put your indicator on, and change lanes as soon as it is safe to do so. If you speed up, they will likely stay on your bumper, increasing the risk for a serious accident. Should you see another driver weaving in and out of lanes or one cuts you off, just slow down and stay as far away as you can. Call 911 immediately if you believe you are in any kind of danger; the dispatcher can help you find a safe area to meet with officers.
Even if your life is not in danger, others may be at risk from a reckless, road-raging driver. They should be reported as long as you are not put at additional risk by doing so. If there is a passenger in your car, have them get the make, model, and license plate; a photo can be helpful. Also have them note the location, and they can then call it in. Otherwise, you may be able to pull over somewhere and make the call yourself. Reporting aggressive drivers to law enforcement can prevent accidents from happening.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC, Protect the Rights of Road Rage Victims
No one should have to deal with another driver’s bad driving behaviors, especially when these reckless actions cause an accident. If you have been the victim of a car accident caused by road rage, reach out to the Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Call us today at 215-569-4888 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.