Extreme driving behaviors cause injuries and deaths all too often in Reno, but understanding the facts about road rage can help drivers prevent deadly accidents. Nationally, about 66% of traffic deaths are linked to aggressive driving behaviors and road rage.
The Facts on Road Rage
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), close to 94% of traffic accidents are caused by driver errors, including aggressive drivers that inflict road rage on other motorists and pedestrians. One-third of traffic accidents are directly linked to aggressive driving behaviors, such as speeding, running red lights and stop signs, sudden lane changes, illegal turns, and tailgating. NHTSA reports that 30,000 people die in car accidents each year, and 66% of those deaths are linked to road rage.
Road rage statistics show that road rage happens more frequently than people realize. Between 2009 and 2016, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported more than 12,600 serious injuries and 218 deaths attributed to road rage. In an AAA survey, 80% of drivers reported engaging in some type of aggressive driving behavior at least once in a year. Close to eight million drivers admitted to exhibiting extreme road rage behaviors like bumping another vehicle from behind or confronting another driver outside of the car.
The AAA survey showed intentional tailgating as the most common type of aggressive driving behavior. After interviewing over 2,000 licensed drivers, 51% admitted to engaging in intentional tailgating within a 12 month period. Others reported aggressive driving behaviors like yelling at the other driver (47%); continuous horn honking to show anger (45%); cutting another driver off or blocking him/her from changing lanes (24%), and intentionally driving slowly in the left lane (18%). Drivers attributed their aggressive driving behaviors to traffic congestion, running late, working long hours, fatigue and sleep deprivation, and alcohol and/or drug use.
Stress and anger play a significant role in road rage incidents. Drivers who exhibit careless or impulsive driving behaviors are more prone to road rage. Important road rage facts reveal:
- Male drivers between ages 18-21 are the leading perpetrators
- Millennial drivers experience at least 51% of incidents
- 39% of male drivers have been victims
- 28% of female drivers have been victims
- 44% of incidents are triggered by drivers who get cut off
- 37% of incidents involve deadly firearms
What Defines Road Rage?
There are legal differences between road rage and aggressive driving. Road rage is a criminal offense because it involves violent intent towards another person. Aggressive driving is considered a traffic offense caused by reckless behaviors such as speeding, ignoring traffic lights, tailgating, and illegal turns. The NHTSA defines road rage as “when a driver intends to commit harm or cause property damage with his/her vehicle, or when the operator or passenger of one motor vehicle assaults the operator or passengers of another vehicle with a moving car or another dangerous weapon.”
If a driver is convicted of road rage that causes physical harm to another person/persons or damage to another driver’s car or property, he/she will face legal repercussions that include steep fines, higher insurance premiums, and possible jail time. Additionally, victims who are injured in road rage crashes can sue the at-fault driver to recover compensation for economic and noneconomic damages. In some cases, punitive damages are awarded as well.
How can Road Rage Be Prevented?
The best way to protect against road rage is by taking preventive measures while on the road. Although another driver’s actions can’t always be anticipated, drivers can focus on their own driving behaviors to promote safety and avoid potential road rage situations.
Getting adequate sleep and preparing for the day will reduce stress levels while driving. Sleep deprivation and rushing to get to work on time contributes to aggressive driving behaviors that may create conflict with other drivers or trigger road rage.
Some drivers take chances behind the wheel that endanger other drivers. Cutting a driver off, blocking a driver from changing lanes, driving behind a driver with bright lights on, or tailgating can cause tempers to flare. Courtesy on the road goes a long way in preventing conflicts.
Drivers who are distracted by their cell phone, radio, a navigation system, eating and drinking, personal grooming, or other passengers often make driving errors that impact other drivers. A Reno auto accident attorney often sees unintentional driving errors that trigger road rage in drivers with aggressive driving behaviors and anger issues.
Drivers should not engage with or react to an angry driver. This will only escalate the situation and make things more dangerous. It’s best to avoid eye contact, gestures, yelling, or any aggressive behaviors with another driver. About 37% of road rage incidents involve firearms.