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What Drivers Can Do to Control Road Rage

What Drivers Can Do to Control Road Rage

In May, two drivers and their passengers exchanged blows on a Houston street, after the driver of the truck refused to let the driver of the car merge into his lane. Cellphone footage shows the incident escalating – first, with the parties arguing outside their vehicles, then with the car passenger throwing a drink at the truck passenger. A fight broke out and ended quickly, but before speeding off, the truck reversed and deliberately crashed into the car.

Road rage – an altercation between angry drivers – often leads to serious crashes, injuries, and fatalities. During some incidents, drivers lose their temper and fire a gun at another driver, or brandish weapons in a street fight. And, usually, witnesses report seeing one driver engage in a maneuver or behavior that seemed to provoke the other driver to violence.

To avoid becoming involved in a road rage incident, drivers must be aware what types of behaviors could put them in jeopardy.

When Aggression Becomes Rage

Aggressive drivers can become violent when they perceive another driver as having wronged them in some way. And often, the driver who becomes the target of road rage was engaging in some form of aggressive driving.

In July, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a report about its 2014 aggressive driving survey. The report asked drivers whether they had engaged in specific aggressive driving behaviors, and of the 2,705 respondents, 78 percent said they had engaged in at least one aggressive driving behavior one or more times in the preceding year.

Behaviors included in the survey were:

  • Deliberate tailgating
  • Yelling at, or making angry gestures at another driver
  • Honking to show annoyance or anger
  • Blocking a vehicle that was trying to change lanes
  • Cutting off another vehicle
  • Deliberately bumping another vehicle
  • Getting out of one’s car to confront another driver.

The most-reported behavior was tailgating (50.8 percent), followed by yelling at another driver (46.6 percent). Of the drivers who said they yelled at other drivers, 9.1 percent said they did so “fairly often.”

Speeding and weaving in and out of traffic are also forms of aggressive driving, but those behaviors weren’t included in the survey.

Roadway Etiquette

Expedia’s annual Road Rage Report surveys drivers about which violations of on-the-road etiquette they find most annoying. In 2016, of the 1,000 drivers surveyed, 22 percent said texting was the most irritating offense, making it the highest-ranked offense of 12 behaviors. Tailgating came in second, at 14 percent, and another annoyance was “last-minute line-cutters.” Considering the results of the AAA aggressive driving survey, it seems that some people may be engaging in the very behaviors they find most annoying in other drivers.

Exercising good roadway etiquette is the best way to avoid becoming the target for an angry motorist. The National Motorists Association has these recommendations for drivers:

  • Use the left lane for passing only. Texas state law requires drivers on multi-lane highways to use the left lane for passing, but even so, some motorists stay in the lane and don’t yield to faster traffic.
  • Accommodate vehicles attempting to merge into traffic. On a multi-lane road, if possible, drivers should move out of the right-most lane, when they see a car approaching in a merge lane.
  • Use turn signals. Turn signals are a courtesy to other drivers.
  • Avoid tailgating. Following too closely is a dangerous behavior. If the driver in the front car stops suddenly – either out of necessity, or on purpose, as a warning to the tailgater – a rear-end collision may occur.
  • Stay focused. Distractions may cause drivers to unwittingly violate roadway etiquette.

Attorney Chip Evans

Austin Attorney Chip EvansChip Evans is a partner at Evans & Herlihy. Chip brings to the firm more than 20 years of experience as a trial lawyer representing Plaintiffs. It is the desire to help individuals, not corporations, that attracts Chip to this side of the docket. [ Attorney Bio ]