In April, beloved former NFL star Will Smith lost his life in a murder that shone a national spotlight on road rage incidents. Smith’s car was rear-ended and, following an argument, the other driver shot and killed him. Road rage and aggressive driving are increasingly frequent these days. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) road rage “involves a criminal act of violence, whereas aggressive driving can range from tailgating to speeding to running red lights.”
The NHTSA reported that road rage or aggressive driving were factors in 375 fatal crashes that resulted in 418 deaths in 2014, the latest year statistics are available. The NHTSA also found that more than 60 percent of drivers consider unsafe driving by others, including speeding, a major personal threat to themselves and their families.
There is no way for us to know whether another driver is in a red-hot emotional state. How can you protect yourself and your passengers from the enraged individual who takes to the road?
First and foremost, do NOT become enraged yourself or react in kind. When he was teaching me how to drive, my dad used to warn me, “Don’t let the other guy drive your car for you.” If you focus on the frustrating or rude things another driver is doing, not only are you more likely to make a mistake and cause a wreck, but also the way you react can make the other driver behave even more recklessly. “When another driver starts gesturing or yelling at you, try just to let them blow off steam,” recommends the NHTSA. Some more useful NHTSA tips:
- Try to get out of the way of an aggressive driver. Do not challenge the driver by speeding up or keeping them out of your lane.
- Avoid eye contact, which can sometimes enrage an aggressive driver.
- Ignore obscene gestures from other drivers, and never respond in kind. According to the AAA Foundation, “Obscene gestures have gotten people shot, stabbed, or beaten in every state.”
- Use your horn sparingly. A supposedly “rude” honk has been linked to many shootings.
- Report aggressive drivers to the police or highway patrol.
Ken Crosson is the owner and lead attorney of the Crosson Law Group, a personal injury and business litigation law firm in Marietta, Georgia, serving the entire Atlanta metropolitan area and surrounding counties. The Crosson Law Group team is ready to help you and your family recover when you have suffered a serious injury. Call (678) 909-0770 or contact us via email today to schedule a free case evaluation.