Tension can be high on Texas roads, particularly in heavy traffic, construction zones, or inclement weather. When drivers behave aggressively behind the wheel, accidents are more likely to happen. When that aggressive behavior turns violent, the chance of a catastrophic wreck significantly increases.
Knowing the difference between aggressive driving and road rage is crucial if you’re a motorist in Texas. Keep reading to learn more about the behaviors defining each, how to protect yourself from angry drivers, and when to contact a personal injury lawyer. This information could help you stay safe behind the wheel.
If you have been injured in a crash caused by an aggressive driver in San Antonio, contact the Law Offices of Troy A. Brookover to discuss holding the driver financially accountable for your medical bills.
Difference Between Aggressive Driving and Road Rage
While aggressive driving and road rage share some characteristics, they differ in meaningful ways. The Texas Department of Insurance defines aggressive driving as any form of unsafe behavior while operating a vehicle that puts people or property at risk. Road rage is a violent form of aggressive driving, The most common examples of aggressive driving include:
- Unsafe lane changes or weaving in and out of traffic
- Changing lanes without signaling
- Blocking cars attempting to pass or change lanes
- Passing other vehicles on the wrong side of the road
- Cutting in front of other vehicles and then slowing down, also called “brake checking”
These driving behaviors endanger other road users and can lead to serious traffic accidents. When aggressive drivers become angry or violent, their behavior constitutes road rage. An enraged driver can cause violent road rage incidents that injure people or damage property.
Typically, road rage involves the following behaviors:
- Cursing or lewd language
- Obscene physical gestures
- Throwing objects at cars or drivers
- Ramming or sideswiping other vehicles
- Forcing a driver off the road
- Striking the car windshield or pounding on the car hood
- Grabbing car door handles
- Physically assaulting another driver
- Using weapons against another driver
While road rage is not defined as a separate criminal offense in Texas, the behaviors associated with road rage can lead to criminal charges for reckless driving, assault, or battery.
Understanding Angry Drivers: What’s the Cause?
A recent survey found that Texas is among the states with the highest number of aggressive drivers and road rage incidents. More than 46 percent of drivers surveyed nationwide reported that they had been confronted by another driver who had exited their vehicle to yell or provoke a fight. Recent news reports indicate increased road rage incidents that become deadly confrontations and shootings. What causes drivers to become angry behind the wheel?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that traffic congestion is a common cause of speeding and other aggressive driving behaviors. Drivers sitting in traffic often become frustrated, agitated, and angry. They may resort to aggressive driving behaviors, such as speeding and making unsafe lane changes if they are hurrying to work or appointments.
According to AAA Living, automobiles allow drivers to feel anonymous to other road users. Psychologists say this feeling of anonymity can lead to aggressive, uninhibited behavior. A driver may feel they cannot be held accountable for their bad or threatening behavior if other motorists don’t know who they are. In other words, they may feel they can act aggressively without any repercussions.
Furthermore, angry drivers may feel the urge to teach other motorists a lesson. However, focusing on another driver rather than the road ahead can result in collisions with serious consequences.
Some drivers disregard the law entirely or become angered by what they perceive as slights by other motorists. Therefore, it’s crucial to know how to drive defensively around these motorists to protect yourself, your passengers, and other road users.
Safety Tips: How to Protect Yourself from Aggressive Drivers
Although you cannot control the behavior of other drivers, there are steps you can take behind the wheel to decrease your chances of being involved in a collision with an aggressive driver. If you are on the other end of a road rage incident or worry that another motorist is driving aggressively, consider the following:
- Stay calm and courteous behind the wheel, even when another driver behaves aggressively.
- Avoid making eye contact with aggressive drivers. It can trigger further aggression and lead to confrontation.
- Do not retaliate against aggressive drivers by making reckless maneuvers that could endanger others.
- Practice patience. Give other drivers the benefit of the doubt.
- Contact the authorities when aggressive driving turns violent or threatens to harm other road users. If it’s an emergency, dial 911 or call your local police station to report the aggressive driving. If you are the target of a road rage incident, drive to a public place such as a police station, fire station, or hospital for safety.
You can also help prevent road rage and aggressive driving incidents by avoiding driving behaviors that may provoke other motorists. Follow the rules of the road and remember:
- Keep your distance from other drivers and avoid following other cars too closely
- Use the passing lane for passing only
- Use turn signals when turning or changing lanes
- Let other drivers merge and respect the rules for right-of-way
- Let other drivers pass when necessary
Get Legal Help from Our Experienced Car Accident Attorneys
Were you involved in a car accident in San Antonio, Texas, with an aggressive driver? Or were you the target of a road rage incident? If so, The Law Offices of Troy A. Brookover can help you pursue accountability. With more than 30 years of legal experience inside and outside the courtroom, attorney Troy A. Brookover has the resources and knowledge to take on any personal injury case and provide effective representation. Since 1992, our firm has helped thousands of injury victims in San Antonio seek the full compensation and justice available under Texas law. We have secured six- and seven-figure awards for our clients. Our case results speak for themselves.
Contact our office in San Antonio today to request a free legal consultation with our experienced car accident attorneys.