The Real Consequences of Aggressive Driving
December 28, 2017
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), aggressive driving is extremely common and often results in serious or deadly injuries to those who are directly involved or are victims of the dangerous driving behaviors of others. In a recent report, the AAA documented that approximately 80% of all American drivers say they have expressed a significant amount of aggression, anger or road rage while behind the wheel within the last calendar year. Previous studies have confirmed that up to 50% of car accidents are the result of aggressive driving.
Although road rage and aggressive driving are similar, there are some important differences between them. The AAA reports that all deliberate, unsafe behaviors that come along with a general disregard for the safety of others while operating a motor vehicle constitute aggressive driving. Road rage is often marked by violent behaviors and extreme, unsafe actions, such as:
- Ramming or sideswiping another vehicle;
- Cursing, making obscene gestures and/or throwing objects, and:
- Forcing another driver off a roadway
Some typical examples of classic aggressive driving behaviors are tailgating (following too closely behind another vehicle), weaving in an out of traffic and changing lanes without proper signals, running red lights, braking or flashing headlights to “punish” other drivers on the road and speeding even when there is heavy traffic present.
A driving situation doesn’t need to escalate to road rage for drivers or passengers to get seriously injured or killed. When individuals get angry behind the wheel and yell or make gestures at other drivers, it can sometimes lead to an altercation (verbal or physical). In fact, many people have sustained traumatic, fatal injuries as a result of an argument centered on driving. Because of how deadly aggressive driving and road rage can be, one good way to decrease the dangers is to learn how to stay calm behind the wheel and to try to safely avoid drivers if they are acting aggressively.
The AAA estimates that more than 50% of drivers purposefully tailgate others. Data shows that when there isn’t enough space between two vehicles, drivers have less time to react and that the likelihood of an accident increases. At least 12% of drivers say they have intentionally cut off other vehicles and 24% say they’ve blocked another vehicle from changing lanes. Approximately one-third of drivers report that they’ve made angry gestures behind the wheel, and nearly the same amount say they’ve honked as a way of showing their anger.
As if these behaviors aren’t concerning enough, 3% of drivers admitted to ramming or hitting into another vehicle on purpose, and 4% polled said they had exited their own vehicles in order to physically confront another driver. The Pennsylvania Traffic Safety Enforcement Resource Center (PTSERC) recommends that if a driver is in a situation and he or she feels unsafe or uncomfortable to call 9-1-1 right away. The PTSERC also recommends that individuals who are near aggressive drivers or incidents including road rage should:
- Avoid making any contact with the aggressive driver;
- Move your vehicle out of the way,
- Don’t give any indication that you “disagree” with their driving behavior and ignore any rude gestures or comments they may be making, and:
- If you are able, pull over and safely call 9-1-1 in order to report the situation to local or state police officials
According to PennDOT, Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation, speeding and aggressive driving are some of the leading causes behind fatal car accidents. PennDOT first joined together with local and state police in 2008 to launch an initiative that combats excessive rates of aggressive driving and road rage. The project is called The Pennsylvania Aggressive Driving Enforcement and Education Project (PAADEEP), and it targets areas that are known for higher rates of aggressive driving, increases enforcement and ticketing penalties, promotes educational and awareness campaigns and also coordinates various training procedures – all to better preserve the safety of motorists.
The statistics not only show that aggressive driving and road rage can be – and often are – deadly, but also that they are frighteningly common. For all of these reasons, it is essential that any individual who feels that he or she is becoming emotional behind the wheel takes just a few moments to make sure they don’t become too upset and begin driving erratically or aggressively, putting themselves and others in serious danger. PennDOT recommends that individuals answer whether or not they:
- Race to beat red lights or fail to stop fully at stop signs;
- Speed excessively;
- Change lanes erratically (or weave between/across lanes);
- Conduct illegal passes, such as in the right lane;
- Tailgate slower vehicles, and:
- Fail to yield or provide the right of way to other vehicles on the road
If someone answers yes to any of the above questions, they are driving in a way that puts themselves and others at serious risk for an automobile accident. Pulling over and taking a break, taking some deep breaths or simply remembering how deadly aggressive driving scenarios truly are can all be good ways to prevent unsafe behaviors from culminating into a serious or fatal car accident.
If you have been in an automobile accident because an aggressive driver put your safety at risk and you sustained injuries as a result, please contact our firm directly.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represents Individuals Injured in Car Accidents
If you were in a car accident because of an aggressive driver and sustained injuries as a result, please contact our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Galfand Berger. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.