“Far too many drivers are losing themselves in the heat of the moment and lashing out in ways that could turn deadly,” according to Jurek Grabowski, director of research for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Returning from a bike ride, two riders were thrown from their motorcycles as a motorists appeared to intentionally drive his car over their bikes. The bikers scramble across the road to safety as the motorist sped off. Fortunately, they were not injured. The Florida Highway Patrol later identified the driver. The incident was apparently a case of road rage.
Two women were leaving a concert in Independence, Missouri. They said as they tried to merge after traffic was backed up, a man pulled a gun on them.
Returning home from vacation, a North Carolina family became the victims of a near-deadly case of road rage. As the female driver attempted to merge onto the roadway, a Jeep in front of her and a Nissan behind, began swerving back and forth between the lanes, preventing her from passing. Then, the driver from behind drove on the right shoulder and pulled alongside her vehicle yelling profanity. When she didn’t pull over, he fired shots into the passenger window, hitting a young passenger near his left eyebrow and striking the driver in the back of the head. She was flown to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, but released five days later. The shooter has been charged with two counts of malicious wounding, two counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, shooting from a vehicle and reckless handling of a firearm.
A study by the AAA Foundation found that nearly nine out of ten drivers perceived aggressive drivers to be a serious threat to their personal safety, and nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year.
Road rage can include:
- Yelling at another driver
- Honking to show annoyance or anger
- Making angry gestures at another driver
- Purposely blocking another vehicle from changing lanes
- Purposely cutting off another vehicle
- Bumping or hitting another vehicle on purpose
- Getting out of their vehicle to confront another driver
The study relied on participants to admit to their actions. Researchers did not ask people whether they had shot anyone due to road rage, said Michael Green, AAA spokesman. “The fact that we used self-reported results is interesting because many people might be embarrassed to admit to acts of road rage and aggression,” Green said. “This means that anger on the roads might even be worse than we reported.”
AAA recommends the following tips to prevent road rage:
- Don’t Offend: Never cause another driver to change their speed or direction. That means not forcing another driver to use their brakes, or turn the steering wheel in response to something you have done.
- Be Tolerant and Forgiving: The other driver may just be having a really bad day. Assume that it’s not personal.
- Do Not Respond: Avoid eye contact, don’t make gestures, maintain space around your vehicle and contact 9-1-1 if needed.
Do you know your road rage potential? Take the quiz and find out.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.