Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo[/caption] Nearly every driver has, at one time or another, been frustrated with traffic conditions or the actions of another driver. But there is a difference between frustration and aggressive driving or road rage. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property,” such as speeding or driving too fast for conditions, improper lane changing, tailgating and improper passing. Road rage, on the other hand, is defined by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety as “any unsafe driving maneuver performed deliberately and with ill intention or disregard for safety,” and include things like cutting people off, hitting one car with another, running someone off the road, and shooting or physically assaulting other drivers or passengers. Whereas aggressive driving is typically a traffic offense, road rage is generally a criminal offense. According to an article on WebMD, young men initiate most road rage incidents, but anyone can feel rage behind the wheel because anyone can take offense at what they think another driver is doing. “Our emotions are triggered by mental assumptions,” says Leon James, PhD, a professor of psychology at University of Hawaii and co-author of Road Rage and Aggressive Driving. According to James, other factors that can trigger road rage include stress and a feeling of intense territoriality that is suddenly threatened by another driver. James recommends recognizing and controlling aggressive thoughts, feelings, and actions, as well as cultivating compassion, in order to prevent or minimize road rage. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recommends the following strategies to prevent road rage:
- Don’t offend. In other words, avoid those driving behaviors that tend to anger other drivers, such as cutting drivers off, driving slowly in the left lane, tailgating, and making rude gestures.
- Don’t engage. Avoid angry drivers by giving them lots of room. Do not pull to the side of the road to “settle things.” Avoid eye contact with the offending driver, and if necessary, get help.
- Adjust your attitude. Give the other driver the benefit of the doubt. Often times, a driver’s offensive behavior is inadvertent or unintentional and has nothing to do with you. Do not take the actions personally.
If you are the victim of road rage, contact an auto accident lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about a possible personal injury lawsuit. All personal injury cases, including car accident claims, have strict statutes of limitations during which a lawsuit can be filed. A personal injury lawyer can advise you of those time limits and ensure that you file a timely claim if necessary. Contact the Chicago accident attorneys at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible personal injury lawsuit. Steinberg Goodman & Kalish (www.sgklawyers.com) is dedicated to protecting victims and their families. We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (888) 325-7299 or (312) 445-9084.