Traffic can be frustrating, and the decisions that other drivers make can add to that issue. They may cut you off or turn without using a blinker, causing you to resort to your preferred method of venting. However, letting these feelings get out of hand can be dangerous. Road rage is a serious issue that can lead to accidents, injuries, and deaths.
In early May, what started as road rage ended with the death of a 24-year-old U.S. Air Force force veteran in Missouri. The man, on his way home from visiting his parents to borrow a lawn mower, hit another vehicle. During the ensuing argument, he was stabbed to death. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. A psychologist was threatened with a baseball bat and a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed in Albuquerque as a result of a road rage incident.
Aggressive driving has been linked to be a possible factor in nearly 66 percent of all traffic fatalities, and 37 percent of road rage altercations involve at least one firearm. Unfortunately, these incidents result in about 30 murders per year.
NHTSA figures show significant problems with road rage
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines road rage as “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.” Striking another vehicle is an obvious example, but general violent and/or aggressive behavior toward other drivers also qualifies. Chances are that you or someone you know has experienced road rage at some point — AAA found in a poll that 80 percent have experienced general aggression or road rage at some point. Roughly 8 million drivers reported escalating to intentionally striking another vehicle or confronting another driver in a fit of road rage in 2016.
Even people with a generally calm demeanor can experience road rage. Robert Nemerovski, PsyD, describes the phenomenon as a “Jekyll and Hyde transformation.” It isn’t quite clear why this happens, but the general anonymity of driving can cause others to react in ways they wouldn’t otherwise.
Road rage, if left unchecked, can seep into other parts of your life or be a symptom of a larger issue like depression. “People that engage in road rage have anger that leaks over to other parts of their life,” says Dr. Steve Albrecht, a Colorado Springs-based threat assessment expert, “If you don’t get treatment you’re going to keep replicating the behavior.”
Should you or someone you know be the victim of an accident involving road rage, contact our offices at Dean Waite & Associates, LLC.