Some people might use the terms “aggressive driving” and “road rage” interchangeably, but there is a significant difference. While both are serious and can cause harm to other drivers on the road, one is worse.
All drivers have a duty of care to avoid actions that will put others in danger. That’s what it’s important to understand the distinction between aggressive driving and road rage and what to do if you’re a victim of either. We’ll discuss all of this below.
What is Aggressive Driving?
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, aggressive driving is defined as “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.”
Aggressive driving includes:
- Speeding or racing
- Tailgating (riding too closely behind another vehicle)
- Lane blocking (preventing another driver from changing lanes)
- Suddenly or frequently changing lanes
- Failing to yield the right of way, signal, or obey traffic signs
- Honking at other drivers (when it’s not an emergency)
- Driving on a shoulder, median, or sidewalk
- Making an obscene gesture at someone in traffic
All forms of aggressive driving a ticketable offenses. They are also believed to cause many of the 6,800,000 U.S. accidents that happen every year.
What Is Road Rage?
Road rage is when a driver commits a violent act against another person on the road. It may also be known as reckless driving.
Examples of road rage include:
- Using your car as a weapon
- Getting back” at a driver by bumping your car against theirs
- Getting into a reckless chase with another car
- Exiting your vehicle and brandishing a weapon with the intent to harm the other driver
Unlike aggressive driving, road rage is an actual criminal offense that you can go to jail for. Road rage usually results from a serious of stressful events, both in the person’s life and on the road. Aggressive driving can escalate into road rage.
An important distinction is that aggressive driving is a traffic violation, while road rage, aside from the yelling and gesticulating, is a criminal offense. It’s considered a wanton or willful disregard for others’ safety.
Aggressive Driving Versus Road Rage: Why It Matters
So, again, here is the main difference between aggressive driving versus road rage:
- Aggressive driving is a traffic offense that can get you a ticket.
- Road rage is a criminal offense that can get you jail time.
One can easily turn into the other in certain circumstances, so it’s key for all drivers to understand the importance of remaining calm on the road. Escalating emotions do no good and can actually lead to serious accidents, injuries, and consequences.
What to Do If You Were a Victim of Aggressive Driving or Road Rage
If you got into an accident because of a driver who was aggressive or exhibiting road rage, try to stay calm and do the following.
Report the Accident
Always pull over and call the police to report the accident—even if the other driver doesn’t want to. Tell the police exactly what happened and mention any aggressive driving or road rage exhibited by the other driver.
Keep Yourself Safe
If the other driver doesn’t seem safe to approach, keep a good distance until the police arrive. Avoid eye contact and don’t retaliate, even if you’re tempted to. Take some deep breaths, and intend to be the better person.
Also, try to get a video of their behavior. This will demonstrate their actions, which is good for your insurance claim if you have injuries or vehicle damage.
If the other driver is calm enough, politely exchange information and insurance information. Take pictures of the accident scene, any injuries and/or vehicle damage, and the other driver’s car and license plate—especially if you’re worried about them fleeing the scene.
If there were any witnesses to the accident, ask them what they saw and ask for their contact information. If they saw the other driver’s aggressive actions, they can back up your accounts of what happened.
Call a Car Accident Lawyer
Contact a car accident attorney and tell them what happened. They will know what to do next and what you’ll need to file a claim for your damages against the other driver’s insurance. Taking the steps above will help your case and give your lawyer something to use in discrediting the at-fault driver’s credibility.
Also, never apologize or admit blame after the accident—even if you were the aggressive driver. Speak to an attorney first so you can know your options.
Were You a Victim of Aggressive Driving or Road Rage?
Both aggressive driving and road rage can lead to serious accidents. If this was the case for you, our attorneys at John Foy & Associates can help. We’ve been helping car accident victims seek the fullest financial recovery from collisions for more than 20 years. If an aggressive or road rage driver caused your accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Call us for a FREE consultation to find out your options. Call 404-400-4000, or fill out the form on this page to get started with your free consultation.