The Dangers of Road Rage
Road rage is a major concern on American roads nowadays. Most people have been angered by the actions of other drivers at some time or other. In these instances, how we react may determine whether it develops into a road-rage scenario.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently completed a study of 10,000 incidents classified as road rage. Over 12,000 injuries were incurred, and 218 incidents involved a murder. AAA found that 80% of motorists have felt significant “anger, aggression, or road rage” when operating a vehicle in the prior year. Roughly 8 million current U.S. drivers have executed acts of “extreme” road rage, which include intentionally striking another vehicle or exiting a vehicle for a confrontation with another driver. Approximately 17 states have proposed some type of road-rage-specific legislation, and many localities have addressed the problem through ordinances.
Wyoming’s Bad Reputation
Calling Wyoming the “Cowboy State” may be more appropriate than we think. In slang, a “cowboy” is someone who acts in a reckless or wild manner to “show off.” The Wyoming Tribune Eagle has stated that Wyoming drivers tend to demonstrate erratic actions including failing to abide by stop signs and red lights, not using turn signals, and speeding. Wyoming is ranked second in roadway fatalities that involve trucks and SUVs, trailing only North Dakota. Wyoming is also the second leading state for motorist fatalities per 100,000 people, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Here are some examples of recent road rage in Wyoming:
- Douglas Lincoln struck a car in from of him on Highway 390 and stumbled by foot to an adjacent bicycle path, where he began a confrontation with a cyclist. A witness tossed a can of bear spray to the cyclist, who then sprayed Lincoln. Law enforcement rushed him to the hospital and then to jail. After, he faced charges of driving recklessly, DUI, and more. He told police that he had become overwhelmed with road rage.
- Evan Haywood was charged with assault after ramming Austin Maddox off of the road. Maddox fired seven shots at Haywood’s vehicle and was also charged. The Park County prosecuting attorney called the incident a “dangerous case of road rage.”
- A woman called authorities to report that a man in a silver truck was driving aggressively. When she tried to pass him, he moved between lanes to block her and later slammed on his brakes. He then gave her a middle finger gesture and held up a handgun. Aaron Wiggins was later charged with aggressive driving and possession of a firearm.
What Aggressive Driving Looks Like
Aggressive driving is willful action that puts people or property at risk. This behavior may include violence, or be likely to cause an accident. Actions may include tailgating, abrupt lane-changing, speeding, honking, and much more. An extreme case would be where a motorist attempts to bump into another vehicle. Males under the age of 26 perform the most aggressive driving; however, women are increasingly acting in this manner. A study by State Farm Insurance and KRC Research revealed that 64% of drivers witnessed six or more acts of aggressive driving in the past 90 days.
According to Jurek Grabowski, a researcher with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, inconsiderate motorists, heavy traffic, and day-to-day stress can easy be escalated into road rage. Her research showed that within the past year, 51% of drivers tailgated, 47% had yelled at another driver, and 45% had used their horns in anger. Surprisingly, nearly 3% of people said they had purposely bumped into another automobile.
Some of the common triggers that can lead to rage on the roadways include:
- Traffic jams
- Drivers running late
- Making changes without using a turn signal
- Slowly traveling in the left lane, restricting faster-moving drivers
- Vulgar hand gestures
- Not allowing a merging vehicle in
Can You Be Charged for “Road Rage”?
Wyoming law allows for a driver to be charged with reckless driving, which stems from a driver demonstrating willful or wanton disregard for the public’s safety. This carries a 90-day license suspension for the first offense, and six months for the second offense. When a motorist operates a vehicle in a negligent way that leads to a fatality, he may be charged with homicide by vehicle. This carries penalties of up to $2,000 in fines, up to 20 years of incarceration, and may result in license revocation.
How to Avoid Road Rage
- Allow yourself extra time to reach your destination to account for unforeseen delays.
- Make sure that you are in the proper condition for driving—psychologically, emotionally, and physically.
- Don’t be distracted when operating a vehicle. If you are talking, texting, applying makeup, or reading, you are much more likely to perform actions that will anger another motorist.
- Avoid reacting to another angry driver; this simply escalates the problem.
- If another driver is following you, drive to a public location such as a store or police department. Do not lead that driver to your home.
- Do not exit your vehicle to confront another motorist. Contact the local authorities when in danger.
However, if you suffer physical injury as the result of someone else’s road rage or aggressive driving, you definitely have a personal injury case against him or her. For a free consultation with a Wyoming car accident attorney, please call Steven Titus & Associates, P.C., at (307) 257-7800.
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