Most Americans close to engaging in road rage, AAA study suggests

More drivers than might be expected have admitted to driving aggressively. Road rage puts thousands of people at risk each year.

Many of those who drive in Illinois and elsewhere have encountered an aggressive driver. In some cases, a driver who is angry or impatient may take his or her aggression to a dangerous level, using fists, weapons inside the car or the vehicle itself as a weapon against the intended target.

One recent example shows how quickly and unexpectedly a road rage situation might escalate. The Chicago Tribune reported that a woman was injured after she bumped into the vehicle in front of her at a red light in Aurora's West Side. Two men exited the vehicle, one of them shouting at her while the other took a picture of her license plate. After they drove off, she followed, intending to exchange contact information with them. Unfortunately, at the next light, the driver approached her window and punched her in the face, breaking her nose. Authorities were still looking for the men involved.

Study from AAA yields disturbing information

Authorities claim that aggressive driving may be involved in about 56 percent of all vehicle collisions in the United States, according to NBC news. Recent studies by AAA revealed that about 80 percent of drivers admitted they had shown some type of aggression behind the wheel during the past year. These incidents might have ranged from swerving between lanes and angrily honking the horn, to using obscene gestures and attempting to block or impede another driver. In some cases, the driver responsible attempted to cause deliberate harm.

There is a clear difference between aggressive driving and full-fledged road rage, states the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, although both behaviors can lead to people being injured in accidents. Aggressive driving is a behavior that often results from impatience or anger, and can cause property damage or injuries. However, it is typically treated as a traffic offense. Road rage, on the other hand, may be classified as a criminal offense, since it is a deliberate attempt to cause harm with what can easily end up being a deadly weapon.

Steps to avoid a dangerous situation

How can a person avoid being caught up in a road rage incident? Aside from being courteous while driving and avoiding reacting out of anger, a driver can try the following measures:

  • Do not drive home, where the aggressive driver can follow. Instead, drive to a police station or another area that is well-lit and populated.
  • Call 911 and request help.
  • Avoid pulling over or being driven off the road, if possible. This could put the defensive driver in danger.
  • Do not escalate potential violence by emulating the aggressive driver's actions.
  • Remain calm and attempt to get away from the angry driver, without speeding or taking reckless actions that can endanger others.

Road rage can be a terrifying event, which hopefully most people will not have to experience. If you are injured by an angry or negligent driver, you have the right to seek compensation by speaking with an experienced Naperville personal injury attorney.