Road rage is a well-known type of aggressive driving that has become more known and common in recent decades. When it comes to aggressive driving, male drivers generally have a reputation for taking more chances and driving more aggressively than women. From jackrabbit starts and drag racing to tailgating and driving at excessive speeds, many male drivers live down to the negative stereotypes of aggressive male drivers. In addition to being discourteous, aggressive driving increases the chances of a car accident.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says aggressive driving occurs when someone violates at least three traffic laws while disregarding safety and endangering others. Any combination of speeding, tailgating, changing lanes without signaling, and other unlawful driving shows a driver is disregarding safety. Those who do so intentionally often face charges for road rage.
Aggressive driving can be exceptionally dangerous and cause injuries and deaths as well as property damage. In 1998, Delaware enacted an aggressive driving law designed to curb the problem. The 1998 law says aggressive driving occurs whenever a motorist commits three or more moving violations in a single incident. The moving violations in Delaware that count toward aggressive driving include:
- Ignoring traffic controls
- Passing on the right
- Not yielding the right of way
- Driving outside of a designated traffic lane
- Exceeding the speed limit by 15 mph
Aggressive driving in Delaware results in additional penalties beyond traffic violations. A conviction could result in a jail sentence of between 10 and 30 days and a fine of between $100 and $300. Additional convictions could result in a fine of between $300 and $1,000 and up to 60 days in jail. Other states have similar laws in place to punish motorists for aggressive driving and especially road rage that causes an accident.
If you are among those drivers who are more prone to aggressive driving, slowing down and allowing more time to get to and from your destinations might mean the difference between having a safe trip and winding up in the hospital or jail.
Male Drivers Reported More Aggressive Driving Behaviors
AAA recently conducted a study of aggressive driving patterns among men and women. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety questioned male and female drivers of all ages to determine patterns of aggressive driving. The results do show that male drivers generally tend to be more aggressive while driving. But women also engage in a significant amount of aggressive driving.
Exceeding the speed limit by at least 15 mph is a clear indicator of aggressive driving. The faster vehicles travel, the more dangerous they become, and excessive speed is a critical factor in fatal accidents and catastrophic personal injury. AAA says 52 percent of male drivers said they drove at least 15 mph over the posted limit on the freeway versus 44.6 percent of women drivers. Both are relatively high percentages.
Safe driving on a limited-access highway or freeway requires cooperation among drivers. However, nearly 38 percent of male drivers said they did the opposite by intentionally following a vehicle so closely that other vehicles cannot merge into the travel lane.
About 29 percent of women drivers said they also blocked others from merging onto the freeway. That is especially dangerous when it leaves merging traffic with no place to go and forces one or more vehicles to either come to a stop or drive onto the shoulder.
Male drivers also made rude gestures or angrily honked at other drivers more often than women drivers. More than 35 percent of men surveyed said they drove in that manner versus 28 percent of women who were surveyed.
Male drivers also said they switched lanes suddenly and without signaling and tailgated at significantly higher rates than women drivers. About 31 percent of men surveyed affirmed they committed the moving violations versus about 21 percent of women.
Significant percentages of men and women said they drove through a red light, with about 32 percent of men and 30 percent of women affirming they had. Those numbers are the closest of the five categories of aggressive driving that AAA studied. The risks of running a red light are obvious and could result in catastrophic injuries or death.
Most Motorists Have Aggressive Driving Tendencies
Although male drivers generally drive more aggressively than women, AAA says the vast majority of all drivers have aggressive tendencies while driving. Nearly 80 percent of all motorists engage in some form of aggressive driving. Exceeding the posted speed limit is the most common way in which they do drive aggressively.
Whether male or female, AAA also says drivers who are younger consistently drive more aggressively than their older counterparts. Drivers who are stressed or anxious are more prone to aggressive driving. The holidays are especially stressful and anxious times for many, and aggressive driving tends to occur more often at such times of the year.
AAA suggests motorists abide by the speed limit and breathe deeply whenever feeling stressed while on the road. The same procedure can help you to avoid aggressive drivers when encountered while driving and arrive home safely.
If you are in a hurry to get home, AAA says speeding is a mostly pointless endeavor that could cause an accident or earn you a ticket. Driving 20 mph over a posted 45 mph speed limit only would save about two minutes on a five-mile trip. And running red lights or cutting off other vehicles only makes matters much worse.
Aggressive Driving Could Trigger Punitive Damages
Aggressive driving is a choice that many drivers make because of a variety of reasons. The highly negligent nature of aggressive driving makes it possible to seek punitive damages if you are injured or suffer property damage from an aggressive driver’s actions. Punitive damages go above and beyond simple monetary costs and are designed to punish especially bad behavior, such as aggressive driving.
When unlawful aggressive driving causes injuries and property damage, the victims can seek punitive damages in a civil court. Punitive damages apply whenever a driver goes well beyond simple negligence and causes property damage, injuries, or death to others. Aggressive driving certainly meets that qualification.
Punitive damages can multiply the award that a court imposes in a civil action. The court will determine an initial amount based on the economic and non-economic costs incurred. Punitive damages can multiply that amount to emphasize the egregious nature of the offense. A court might multiply the initial damages and render a final judgment that is several times more.
The insurer for the offending party is required to pay that amount up to policy limits. If you have underinsured motorist protection, that could make up the rest of the judgment amount. If not, you might have to initiate a collection against the offending driver, but that driver also might file for bankruptcy.
Delaware Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Advocate for Those Injured in Car Accidents
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident that involved an aggressive driver, reach out to the Delaware car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. We are experienced in Delaware aggressive driving laws that can help you hold that driver accountable. Our legal team will review the circumstances of your accident and will fight for the compensation you deserve under the law. Call us today at 302-888-1221 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington, Delaware, we serve clients in Dover, Newark, and Middletown.