All automobile accidents have the potential to be traumatic for all those involved. However, accidents involving road rage introduce another element into the mix. Aggressive driving and road rage incidents are becoming increasingly common across America as our busy lives leave little patience for any type of slow-down needed while driving. Heavily congested highways fill morning and evening commutes with tension causing the most even-tempered person to lose their cool. A study which looked at fatal auto accidents from 1990 to 2006 found a significant number of those accidents to be the result of road rage. Further, the American Automobile Association found that aggressive driving behaviors factor into at least 56% of fatal crashes.
Levels of Road Rage
Of course there are various levels of road rage; in its mildest form hand gestures may be made, horns honked or lights flashed. Unfortunately, these relatively harmless forms of aggressive driving can lead to more serious forms of road rage. In other words, you never know how close to the edge the person you are about to honk at may be. Perhaps the other driver’s temper is hanging on by a mere thread and when you honk your horn and use a few choice swear words that thread may break, leading to an explosion of violence.
More serious forms of road rage include tailgating another driver, pursuing a vehicle after being cut off, attempting to run a driver off the road, and actual physical assault. Deliberately hitting another person or their vehicle with an automobile can lead to tragic consequences, as can firing a weapon from a vehicle. Some causes of road rage include:
- Congested roadways
- Noise levels
- Time constraints
- Excessive heat and humidity
- Dangerous driving habits
- Territorial defensiveness (defending one’s personal space)
- Acts of retaliation to “get back” at another driver for their careless driving
Other than the obvious fallout from incidents of road rage, it is important to remember than an enraged driver is a distracted driver. Hands are removed from the steering wheel when rude gestures are delivered and eyes are certainly not on the road when an angry driver is looking at one specific vehicle.
Are There Legal Ramifications for Incidents of Road Rage in Louisiana?
There are currently no specific Louisiana laws addressing road rage. However, drivers who engage in violent and dangerous behaviors can be charged with reckless driving or even aggravated assault or other crimes. Should another human be seriously harmed or killed by road rage, the penalty can include years in prison.
Avoiding Road Rage—Both Yours and Theirs
Of course driving can be stressful, but there are ways to minimize the stress. In order to avoid triggering another’s rage, make sure you do not engage in aggressive driving behaviors such as cutting other drivers off, exceeding the speed limit, racing through a stop light or tailgating. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination so slowdowns won’t anger you, and err on the side of being courteous to other drivers. Avoid eye contact with an obviously angry driver, and if you are being pursued, call 911 then look for a police station or busy area where you can safely pull over. Above all, remember that driving is not a competitive sport—at least not during your daily commute to work.
If you are the victim of road rage, you may need immediate legal help. Gary P. Koederitz is a Louisiana personal injury attorney with experience handling road rage and every other type of vehicle accident claim. at Koederitz Law Firm, we can help you through this difficult time. You may have serious injuries which have resulted in major medical expenses and you may even have lost time from work due to those injuries. We offer you knowledgeable advice and compassion when you most need them. Call us at (225) 295-9494 to learn more about your legal options.