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How to handle a road rage situation

You have probably seen your share of aggressive drivers. There seems to be a lot of tension on our roads and highways, and some of it escalates into road rage, a term that was coined by a Los Angeles television station following a string of freeway shootings. You may be surprised to learn that you might be capable of experiencing road rage yourself or causing other drivers to feel this kind of angst.

Defining the aggressive driver

lf you are an aggressive driver, you may tailgate, flash your headlights at the slower driver in front of you or zip through a light changing from green to red because you are simply in a hurry. You are probably not shy about honking your horn either, and you drive over the speed limit almost everywhere you go.

Engaging in road rage

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration makes a distinction between road rage and aggressive driving. The former is a criminal offense; the latter is a traffic offense. You may be somewhat pugnacious behind the wheel, but that does not necessarily mean you are going to be slotted into the road rage column. However, it may not take much. For example, if you experience stress or anger caused by traffic congestion, that may be enough to tip the scales in favor of road rage, and you could take your frustration out on any driver you think might be contributing to the problem.

Causing road rage in others

If you make a sudden turn without using your turn signal or cut someone off by switching lanes too quickly, you might unknowingly cause a violent reaction in another driver. If you reduce speed because you're using your cell phone, you could anger the driver behind you. You could forget to dim your high-beams for oncoming traffic or roll your window down to shout at a rude driver. There are all kinds of ways to upset other motorists.

Staying safe

Statistics compiled by the NHTSA indicate that aggressive behavior is present in two-thirds of traffic fatalities and that firearms are involved in over one-third of all aggressive driving incidents. You certainly do not want to expose yourself to personal injury due to road rage, so if it appears that another driver has become agitated, stay safe. Make sure your car doors are locked, remain calm and do not retaliate against the other person's aggressive behavior. If the angry driver confronts you, dial 911 or drive to the nearest police station.

Road rage can happen anywhere. If you are harmed in any way during such an incident, remember that an attorney experienced in personal injury cases is standing by to help you. 

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