Aggressive driving and road rage have been around since motor vehicles were invented. In recent years, aggressive driving has increased. When provoked, aggressive, angry drivers have been known to commit acts of violence, commonly known a road rage.
The difference between aggressive driving and road rage is that aggressive driving is a traffic offense while road rage is a criminal offense.
Aggressive Driving Defined
Aggressive driving is normally defined as a progression of unlawful driving actions such as:
- Exceeding the posted speed limit or driving too fast for conditions
- Failure to leave a safe distance between vehicles
- Running a red light or stop light
- Failure to yield right of way
- Failure to signal intent
- Using an emergency lane to pass or passing on a shoulder
Road Rage Defined
Road rage can be defined as an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by a vehicle’s operator or passenger(s) upon another person, when the assault was precipitated by an incident, which occurred on a roadway. Road rage requires willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others.
Examples of Aggressive Driving
(that can lead to road rage)
The following are examples of aggressive driving behavior that can lead to road rage:
- Exceeding the speed limit by more than 10 mph.
- Running a red light or stop sign.
- Making a right turn on red without stopping.
- Tailgating excessively
- Driving in the left lane excessively at the posted speed limit – blocking the passing lane.
- Making hand or finger gestures at other drivers.
- Unnecessary use of high beam headlights.
- Honking at other drivers blocking or slowing traffic.
- Abrupt, un-signaled changes of lanes.
- Failure to use turn signals when turning.
- Flashing lights to signal a desire to pass.
Road Rage – When & Where Does It Occur?
Survey results indicate that road rage is most likely to occur on a Friday afternoon. It is during the afternoon peak traffic hours that drivers are most apt to be both fatigued and rushed.
- Road rage incidents occur most frequently during the summer months.
- Urban areas are the most frequently reported locations for road rage incidents.
- Road rage happens most frequently in moderately congested traffic, perhaps because heavily congested traffic conditions lower driver's expectations.
Avoiding Road Rage
- Avoid cutting other drivers off in traffic.
- Don’t tailgate – Allow at least a two-second space between your vehicle and the one ahead of you.
- Signal several hundred feet before you change lanes or make a turn.
- Avoid making any gestures or eye contact with another driver.
- Be courteous in the use of high-beam headlights.
- Don’t flash your lights or blow your horn as a signal of your desire to pass another vehicle.
- Forget winning and allow yourself ample time for your trip.
- Obey speed limits.
- Drive in the right of middle lane; pass on the left.
- Stop at stop signs and red lights; don’t run yellow lights.
- Don’t block intersections.
- Report pedestrian right-of-way in crosswalks.
- Put yourself in the other driver’s shoes. Don’t take other driver’s actions personally.
- If someone follows you after an on-the-road encounter, drive to a public place or to the nearest police station.
- Report any aggressive driving incidents to the police immediately.
Do Not Engage Other Drivers
- Avoid engaging other driver, even if they have done something to make you angry or vice versa.
- Put as much distance between you and the other driver as possible and avoid making eye contact.
- Never pull off a roadway to confront another driver.