Being on the road with a motorist engaged in unsafe driving behaviors intended to cause harm is extremely frightening, but what’s the difference between road rage and aggressive driving? And if you or a loved one was severely injured as a result of either one, what recourse do you have to receive compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages? 

At Peterson & Associates, P.C., in Kansas City, our skilled car accident attorneys are available to help you get through a difficult time after being involved in a wreck with a dangerous driver.

What Is Road Rage?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines road rage as “angry and violent behaviors.” This behavior is frequently a contributing factor in aggressive driving, which we’ll explain in a moment.

Common Road Rage Behaviors

  • Using profanities and obscene gestures to other drivers
  • Throwing objects
  • Laying on the horn
  • Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver
  • Purposefully ramming or bumping into another vehicle
  • Purposefully side-swiping another vehicle
  • Deliberately forcing a driver off the road

When road rage leads to assault, assault with a deadly weapon, or harassment, it’s considered a criminal offense.

Tips on Preventing Road Rage

Here are some tips on how to avoid escalating frustration into road rage: 

  • Take your time and don’t rush. When in a hurry, you can be more inclined to display behaviors of road rage.
  • Stay calm. Whether it’s a traffic jam or a malfunctioning traffic light, keep your cool. Getting angry won’t change the situation.
  • Lay off the horn. Honking loudly and incessantly can only increase your anger, as well as the irritation of other drivers. Only “tap” on your horn if necessary.
  • Don’t stop to confront another driver. You never know who you’re approaching, and you could put yourself in harm’s way.
  • Refrain from using obscene hand gestures. Instead, use positive hand gestures such as waving to other drivers in front of you to signal that you’re letting them in.

What Is Aggressive Driving?

According to the NHTSA, aggressive driving is defined as “dangerous on-the-road behaviors.”

Common Aggressive Driving Behaviors

  • Following too closely behind another vehicle 
  • Driving at excessive speeds
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Running stop lights and signs
  • Tailgating
  • Changing lanes without signaling
  • Blocking cars attempting to pass
  • Using headlights or brakes to “punish” other drivers

Although aggressive driving isn’t a criminal offense like road rage, it is a traffic violation.

Tips on Preventing Aggressive Driving

In addition to relying on defensive driving techniques, here are some additional tips to do your part to keep roadways safer:

  • For every 10 mph, maintain at least a car’s length distance from the driver in front of you. For example, 60 mph means six car lengths.
  • Always use turn signals.
  • Allow other drivers to merge in front of you.
  • Don’t flash your high beams at other drivers.
  • Don’t respond to other aggressive drivers in retaliation for their destructive driving behaviors.
  • Be considerate of other drivers moving slowly, keeping in mind they could be lost.

Staying calm and obeying traffic rules can reduce your risk of being involved in an accident. But if you’re the victim of another motorist’s reckless behavior, you have every right to file a claim for injury compensation, as well as restitution for vehicle damage.

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