We’ve all seen it, or been guilty of it. You know, the angry hand gestures, cursing, tailgating and maybe even threats of violence on the roadways? Yeah, that’s road rage, and there are five essential things you need to know about it.
What Causes It
Road rage is often the result of watching how parents drive as a child, coupled with a person’s own aggression and rage issues. Sometimes it’s nearly a personality trait, while for others it’s a momentary lapse that occurs due to a bad day.
It’s a Common Issue
Road rage is an issue in every state, and there are incidents reported on a daily basis. Even with its overwhelming persistence, there aren’t that many laws against it. In most cases, it depends on how the driver is driving and if any traffic laws are broken. If so, tickets are usually issued.
A Criminal Offense
While only a few states have actually instituted laws concerning road rage, the ones that have, list it as a criminal offense. University of Central Arkansas Police Department lists road rage as “an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or an assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway.”
Beyond Aggressive Driving
To be clear, road rage and aggressive driving are different. Aggressive driving occurs when a driver’s actions on the road constitute traffic offenses that could endanger other drivers. With road rage, the driver either tries to or is successful at causing harm to another driver on the road.
There have been numerous reports of road rage incidents in which one or more people are hurt or killed as a result of an enraged driver's actions. It is recommended that drivers never attempt to follow someone displaying road rage, or engage with him or her in any other way. Instead, someone in the vehicle should call 911 to report the driver. Make sure to get the license plate number and/or other identifying information, and be able to file a detailed report – especially if any damage or injury occurred as a result of the road rage.
Road rage is serious, and can have far-reaching ramifications if things get out of hand. If you find yourself or someone you’re with becoming overly aggressive or dangerous when on the roads, try to diffuse the situation or pull over until you calm down – after all, you never know whether the driver of that car you’re following has a gun.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as 5 Essential Things to Know About Road Rage and was authored by Valerie Johnston.