Road Rage Accidents
The average American drives thousands of miles each year. Over 90 percent of working people drive to and from work. According to the Washington Post, the average commute in the United States reached a new high of 27.1 minutes in one recent year. Over a year, that’s more than 225 hours spent sitting in traffic.
Every day the pressures of traffic jams, road construction, and life stress can push drivers over the edge from irritation, impatience, and aggravation to road rage. Perhaps not so coincidentally, as commute times have risen, so have road rage incidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal crashes resulting from aggressive driving increased nearly 500 percent over a ten year period.
Cars have become safer, and traffic laws have evolved to confront the problem, but road rage continues to constitute a major factor in traffic accidents. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that human error causes over 94 percent of car crashes. Road rage or similar aggressive driving causes are associated with about a third of these accidents. Leaving people injured and needing an auto accident lawyer to help get them back on track.
Road rage involves more than rude gestures. It can take many forms, including physical threats, aggressive behavior, verbal insults, and attempts to get revenge on another driver. It often escalates to violence and causes about 30 murders each year.
What Is the Difference Between Road Rage and Aggressive Driving?
It can seem difficult to discern between aggressive driving and road rage. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the distinction is more legal than practical. NHTSA treats road rage as a criminal act, whereas aggressive driving constitutes a lesser traffic infraction.
Thus, road rage is defined as a traffic incident in which a driver “commits moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property; an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger of one motor vehicle on the operator or passenger of another motor vehicle.”
In other words, aggressive driving with a deliberate intention to hurt someone constitutes road rage.
No matter where you live or travel, aggressive driving is shockingly common. Almost 80 percent of drivers acknowledged experiencing significant anger, aggression, or road rage in the past year. A study ranked Las Vegas in the top 10 nationwide for cities with the highest frequency of aggressive driving events.
Road rage incidents often start when other drivers make mistakes or drive poorly. They may tailgate, fail to signal, or weave across lanes. Drivers who consider themselves assertive retaliate by honking, yelling, or making rude gestures. The aggressive behaviors often escalate, and about 2 percent of drivers admit to trying to run another driver off the road. This cycle of escalation frequently leads to catastrophic crashes.
Road Rage and Nevada Law
Road rage is not a defined crime under Nevada law, but road rage behaviors may lead to criminal charges under Nevada law. Nevada’s reckless driving law makes it a crime to “drive a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard of the safety of persons or property.” Nevada’s aggressive driving law is similar to reckless driving.
The law lists specific acts that are considered aggressive driving, including:
- Following another vehicle too closely,
- Dangerous lane changes, or
- Creating an “immediate hazard, regardless of its duration,” to another vehicle or person.
If a road rage incident involves threats or attempt to injure someone or if the other person feels that they are about to be physically harmed, these actions constitute the crime of assault.
Common Road Rage Behaviors
Road rage happens more often than you might hope. In a five-year period, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported more than 12,600 serious injuries and 218 deaths attributed to road rage.
One AAA survey estimated that millions of U.S. drivers engage in aggressive driving behaviors that could easily escalate into a road rage incident. Tailgating on purpose is the most common of these behaviors. Aggressive behaviors also include yelling at other drivers, extreme or continuous horn honking, cutting off or blocking other drivers, and deliberately driving too slowly in the left lane.
According to NHTSA’s Fatal Accident Report System (FARS), other common aggressive—and potentially road-rage-inducing—behaviors include:
- Sudden acceleration
- Following too closely
- Changing lanes recklessly
- Passing where prohibited
- Failure to yield right of way
- Disobeying traffic signs or signals
- Disobeying safety zone laws
- Failure to observe warnings or instructions on a vehicle displaying them
- Failure to signal
- Driving too fast for conditions or more than the posted speed limit
- Racing another vehicle
- Making an improper turn
- Sudden braking
- Driving where it is not permitted, such as on the shoulder of the road, on a sidewalk, in a ditch or on a median
- Excessive use of horns
- Flashing of lights
- Use of hand gestures
- Shouting threats or obscenities
- Displaying a gun or other weapon
- Intentionally causing a crash
Consequences of Road Rage
Road rage is extremely dangerous because it causes accidents. As with any motor vehicle accident, the potential injuries resulting from road rage incidents vary widely depending on the circumstances. However, they can include catastrophic, life-altering trauma such as brain injuries, broken bones, or spinal cord damage. These injuries can leave a victim to struggle with enormous medical bills, lost wages, and devastating personal consequences.
Holding the person at fault accountable for a road rage accident can help accident victims cope with these consequences.
Each case is unique, but victims can often recover damages that compensate them for the costs of:
- Medical bills, including the cost of rehabilitation and other future medical expenses.
- Lost wages caused by being forced to miss work and loss of future earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish or emotional distress
- Loss of consortium for new limitations placed on families
- The loss of ability to enjoy life
- Property damage
All road rage cases have unique, and often complex, facts and circumstances at their core. As a consequence, no lawyer can promise that all (or any) of the above categories of damages will apply in any particular road rage case, nor can lawyers guarantee the damages a Nevada road rage victim might recover. Working with an experienced motor vehicle accident injury lawyer is the most reliable way to evaluate the strength of a claim and the amount of money a victim might hope to recover for road rage accident injuries.