Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Fatal Freeways and Lethal Lanes

Road rage and aggressive driving in America is an ever-prevalent problem. Each year up to 5 percent of car accidents, deaths, and injuries are caused by road rage (NHTSA). If you haven't realized it yet, something definitely needs to be done about aggressive driving in our country; too many people fall victim to road rage and America’s roads are unsafe.

Aggressive driving may seem to be a spawn or knockoff of TV violence or even an excuse to sue someone, but regardless of what anyone thinks, this is a problem in today’s society. According to an article posted in the Atlantic Monthly, 218 deaths were directly attributable to aggressive driving that occurred in a period during which 290,000 people died in traffic accidents. Clearly, something must be done.

Not only do people die each year due to aggressive driving, but also the rate of such actions is increasing at a steady rate. A study from the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety purported to show an increase of about 60 percent in what it termed "aggressive driving" from 1990 through 1996. One poll, taken in August of 1997, found that 74 percent of Americans surveyed believed that other people were driving more aggressively than they had been five years earlier. If that’s not convincing enough, another study says that there are estimated to be close to 2 million episodes of aggressive driving each year.

With all this aggression on the roads, it becomes self-evident that America’s roads are unsafe. Anyone who sets foot onto a road is potentially at risk for injury or even death. People who drive for a living should have more to fear because at least 83% of commercial drivers will be involved in an aggressive driving incident this year.

I have been a victim of aggressive driving. The details are unimportant, but what is important is that aggressive driving caused an accident. In an attempt to hurriedly exit the freeway, a car darted across two lanes and caused a three-car pile up on the freeway. My part in the accident could have been prevented had driver of my car had been paying attention. Ultimately, the accident was caused by the negligence and aggressive actions of the third car.

Although road rage and aggressive driving is a problem, some people argue that it isn’t a big enough problem to be dealt with. They say that they’ve got more important matters to attend to. With only five percent of car accidents being attributed to aggressive driving, there are other, more preventable and more prevalent, causes for car accidents. It could simply be that road rage is another media induced problem. "You get an epidemic by the mere coining of a term," Said the author of the article in the Atlantic Monthly. Others question if any one solution would actually work. It would be difficult to pinpoint any one cause, let alone to try to curtail the issue. With it being tough to issue tickets for and even more difficult to prosecute, it may not even be worth the police officer’s time.

It may also be too tricky to create a law that would deal with road rage. There is no law against anything called `aggressive driving,' that I could find. There's laws for reckless driving, but sometimes this isn't the same thing. Drawing up the legal language to draft a decent bill would be a difficult one.

Others feel confident enough with their driving abilities that they see no reason to do anything about aggressive driving. To significantly reduce the problem it would take a lot of effort and manpower. To some, it’s just not worth it. I interviewed an aggressive driving friend of mine and he said “If you realize the limits of your car, and if you feel that you can perform at those limits, then this type of driving saves time and doesn’t do anybody any harm.” Some people use aggressive driving to their advantage and they’d rather just keep paying their insurance and increase their risk of having an accident than to do anything else.

Regardless of these thoughts, it is still a problem that affects all of us each time we get into a car. Something needs to be done to stop or lower the amount of aggressive driving related accidents. Even if ten percent of auto deaths and injuries could be prevented each year, that's a victory in my book. Any solution that worked would be worth it.

Aggressive driving and road rage is a crisis on our nation’s roads. It’s a bigger problem than people think, and something needs to be done to reduce the deaths and injuries caused by this type of driving.

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Comments 1 comment

William (Bill) Ray 5 years ago

Just read your story on Road Rage. I almost became a victim when a person who cut me off jumped out of his truck and started towards me, there was a cop in the other lane, the offender quickly jumped back in his truck and left the scene, thankfully!

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