Barbara A. Bowden

Tacoma, WA DUI Attorney

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Is Road Rage Real?

Is road rage real, or is it just something people use as excuse for driving poorly?

At The Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden, we know exactly how stressful driving can be and we know that an act of road rage shouldn’t be seen as a representation of your driving abilities.

Road rage is definitely a reality, and it’s something that every driver is likely to experience at some point. Even those people who seem perfectly calm and composed at all times can be in a situation where they lose their temper while driving. It is not always considered a specifically legal offense, however, which makes it difficult for drivers to know their rights.
Overpass 3Road rage is just one way in which aggressive driving manifests itself. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines aggressive driving as a situation where “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” It defines road rage as “an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or an assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway.”

In other words, “road rage” is little bit like having a disagreement with another driver and acting erratically because you want to make your frustration known.

There are several common causes of road rage:

  • A driver in front of your car is driving slowly
  • Heavy traffic and traffic jams, especially in cities where gridlock can occur
  • Construction areas involving detours or limited driving lanes
  • Other drivers playing loud music, making obscene gestures, or yelling to anyone outside of their vehicle
  • A driver passing you or cutting you off at an intersection
  • A driver making unsafe lane changes
  • Tailgating—the deliberate act of driving too closely to a car in front of you
  • Headlights flashing (which is often how a driver signals to an oncoming car when it’s dark that their “bright lights” are on)
  • A driver failing to use his or her turn signal
  • A driver overusing his or her car horn
  • Poor weather conditions

As you can tell, there are many factors that come into play. Simply having a bad day at work and then getting stuck behind someone driving under the speed limit can lead to road rage. The real problem behind this type of aggressive driving, however, is that it can become very dangerous very quickly.

Road rage is not always predictable and it’s not necessarily indicative of an individual’s normal driving habits. However, it’s important to realize that you can still receive a traffic ticket if your aggressive driving causes harm or breaks any driving laws. Speeding tickets are one of the most common ways that aggressive driving is dealt with. If aggressive driving played a role in a car accident, it will likely also be a factor in any settlements or punitive measures.

So how can you avoid displaying road rage while you’re driving?

There are a few tactics to take to help yourself remain calm in frustrating driving situations:

  • Leave early and give yourself a few extra minutes for your drive.
  • Check if there are any construction projects or traffic jams in your planned route. Many smartphone apps can do this automatically for you!
  • If you choose to listen to music in the car, opt for something that will keep you calm. Loud music and angry talk shows can be enough to push you over the edge.
  • Try to avoid yelling or making obscene gestures to other drivers. Although you might be angry, these are easy ways to anger someone else. Two angry drivers on the road isn’t a good situation.
  • If you notice that your emotions are getting out of hand, and if it’s possible to do so, safely pull over onto the side of the road or into a parking lot where you can calm down.

The fact of the matter is that road rage is real. It’s easy to lose your temper and make actions based on your emotions, but this doesn’t mean that you are a bad driver. If you’ve found yourself in a situation involving road rage and you’ve received a traffic ticket for it in the Tacoma, Washington, area, contact the experienced attorneys today at The Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden.