Studies suggest it can be all too easy to engage in aggressive driving

Aggressive driving and road rage present significant dangers for Americans. Most drivers have driven aggressively at some point.

Americans lead busy, stressed lifestyles and spend a great deal of time in their cars commuting or traveling. When stress or impatience is combined with driving, results can be deadly. Almost nothing is more frightening than being involved in a road rage incident. Unfortunately for residents of North Carolina and elsewhere, it seems that road rage and aggressive driving are commonplace.

According to data from AAA, almost 80 percent of drivers polled admitted they had taken part in some form of anger or aggression behind the wheel during the past year. NBC News states that aggression is responsible for about 56 percent of fatal motor vehicle collisions in the United States.

The American Safety Council puts that number closer to 66 percent, and adds that half of those who have had drivers lash out aggressively against them respond with aggression themselves. Over a period of seven years, 12,610 injuries and 218 murders have been attributed to road rage.

Aggressive driving vs. road rage

Is there a difference between aggressive driving and road rage? Both forms of driving present significant, life-threatening dangers, but have key differences. Aggressive driving is considered by authorities to be a traffic offense that can result in accidents or property damage. On the other hand, road rage is an intentional act to cause harm and is considered a criminal offense.

Someone who is driving aggressively can easily switch tactics to road rage. For example, a person who is late to work might speed, swerve in and out of lanes and cut others off. This is considered aggressive driving and can certainly cause accidents. If another driver is angered by the aggressive one and moves to cut him or her off, the situation could escalate to both drivers attempting to force each other off the road or using their vehicles as weapons against each other. One or both drivers might also have items in their cars, including firearms, that they could use to harm each other if they pull over or crash. In fact, 37 percent of road rage incidents involve a firearm.

Preventive tactics

Is it possible to prevent a road rage incident? Drivers are not always able to avoid the actions of others, but their reactions may make a difference. The following tips may help to de-escalate a dangerous situation:

  • Do not react or respond to an aggressive driver's actions.
  • Never participate in dangerous driving behaviors with another driver, such as racing to cut another vehicle off or push it off the road.
  • If pursued, do not drive home but attempt to safely get away from the other driver or drive to a safe, well-lit area.
  • Call 911 and request help.

Those who are injured by aggressive or negligent drivers may need to speak with an attorney. An experienced Fayetteville personal injury attorney should be able to evaluate a case and assist victims in pursuing compensation.