road rage traffic sign with blue sky backgroundSpend some time driving around Northern Virginia and in our neck of the woods around Culpeper and Warrenton, and you may ask yourself: Why are there so many angry drivers?  Some drivers seem to have no problem following too closely, driving faster than conditions warrant, and generally just being aggressive and angry.

Some of these driving behaviors can be classified as “road rage.”  Aggressive driving is the term used for people who drive in an unsafe way, apparently unaware that they share the road with others.  When aggressive driving crosses the line, it can be called road rage.  This usually happens if something angers a driver, who then tries to retaliate against another driver.

What Does Road Rage Look Like? 

You might have experienced road rage if another driver followed you too closely on purpose to intimidate you, if they made an obscene gesture at you, if they deliberately tried to block your car from merging or changing lanes, if they shouted verbal insults, or if they went as far as to commit physical assault.

There is no doubt about it: road rage is dangerous. Any aggressive driving move makes the road less safe for other motorists, but road rage behavior is especially risky. If you were hurt in a car accident that was caused by another driver’s road rage, you have legal rights.

What to Do If You Were the Victim of Road Rage

It can be difficult to avoid or ignore another driver who has become angry and is targeting you or another driver near you. The best thing you can do is to NOT RESPOND IN ANY WAY. The angry driver will only be egged on by any response. You may think you can teach them a lesson or show them they can’t behave that way, but you will fail.

If you are involved in a road rage incident, we advise you to do the following:

  • Prioritize safety. Your safety and the safety of your passengers should be your top priority. If you feel threatened or unsafe, make sure you're in a well-lit and public area before taking any further action.
  • Remain calm. It's natural to feel angry or shaken after a road rage incident but try your best to remain calm. Avoid escalating the situation further by responding aggressively.
  • Avoid engagement. Do not engage with the aggressive driver. Avoid making eye contact, gestures, or any other actions that might provoke them. Focus on de-escalating the situation rather than escalating it.
  • Take notes and photos. If it's safe to do so, take note of important details like the other vehicle's make, model, color, license plate number, and any unique identifiers. Also, consider taking photos or videos of the scene and any damage if it's relevant.
  • Report to authorities. If you believe the situation resulted in a threat to your safety, consider reporting the incident to local law enforcement. Provide them with accurate information and any evidence you've gathered, such as photos, videos, or notes.

It is best to ignore an aggressive or abusive driver. However, if you lost your cool and engaged an angry driver—and it resulted in an accident, all is not lost. The other driver is still accountable for their actions. If you are suffering the effects of a road rage accident, legal help is a good idea.

Richard A. Dulaney
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Richard has over 30 years of experience in personal injury law.

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