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Is COVID-19 Responsible for the Increase in Road Rage Accidents?

Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Dec 16, 2020 in Auto Accident

young man shouting through open car windowIncidents of road rage have been steadily increasing over the last decade and continue to rise in 2020. In fact, recent statistics show that a staggering eight out of every 10 Americans engage in some form of this erratic and dangerous behavior. One must wonder whether COVID-19-related stresses are, at least in part, a contributing factor.

Rizk Law discusses road rage, whether the ongoing pandemic is one of the reasons behind this trend and steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of another’s reckless or violent driving behavior.

If you suffered injuries in an accident because of another driver’s acts of road rage, our Portland-based car accident attorneys are ready help. Call our firm to discuss your potential legal options in a completely free consultation at no obligation or risk to you.

Is Road Rage and Aggressive Driving the Same Thing?

Many people think of aggressive driving and road rage as being the same, however, while one can lead to the other, they are quite different.

Aggressive driving is considered a traffic offense. Common examples of this behavior includes excessive speeding, tailgating (following too close to another vehicle) or running a red light. While aggressive driving is dangerous and can lead to an accident, it is not road rage.

Road rage often happens because of another driver’s aggressive, careless or reckless driving, resulting in one or more involved drivers exploding in anger – and sometimes, a criminal, violent or deadly act.

How Does the Law Define Road Rage?

While Oregon does not have one specific state law that defines road rage, there are several state laws that refer to this dangerous type of road behavior as the reckless or careless operation of a motor vehicle, as well as actions that are menacing or which may endanger another person. Oregon imposes various penalties, as well as jail time, depending on the seriousness of the offense.

Many people may be surprised to learn they may have engaged in certain actions or behavior considered aggressive or menacing, such as:

  • Honking a car horn loudly – or “laying” on the horn
  • Shouting obscenities or rudely gesturing at another driver
  • Speeding up to tailgate another driver aggressively to let them know you “mean business”
  • Slamming on the brakes to “teach someone a lesson” because they are tailgating you

Examples of out-of-control, extreme acts of road rage may include:

  • Chasing after a driver who offended you
  • Purposely striking the car of the other driver
  • Getting out of the car to attack, shoot at, or kill the other driver
  • And more

Who is at Risk for Road Rage?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) latest report reveals that deaths caused by road rage incidents have increased by more than 500 percent in the last ten years.

Nearly anyone dealing with high levels of stress may be at risk for engaging in dangerous or reckless behavior – road rage – as seen in these recent statistics:

  • As many as 66 percent of traffic deaths are due to aggressive driving behavior
  • 37 percent of road rage incidents involve the use of a firearm
  • Male drivers under the age of 19 are the most susceptible to road rage behavior
  • At least half of all drivers who experience an act of aggressive behavior admit to responding back with similar behavior, such as cursing, honking the horn or giving a rude gesture
  • Road rage incidents result in approximately 30 murders each year

Could COVID-19 Be Why Road Rage Incidents are on the Rise?

Road rage incidents are usually triggered by some other stressor in a person’s life, such as financial difficulties or other problems at home or at work.

The impact of COVID-19 has caused many people to suffer job losses – or reduced hours and pay – and the lack of money always increases stress. Other pandemic-related stresses may include:

  • Family members becoming ill with the virus – or even the fear of becoming ill themselves
  • The mental strain from the long months of social distancing and not seeing family and friends
  • Severe anxiety, depression, loneliness and even anger because of all the political issues, emotional losses and not knowing how much longer the pandemic will continue

These extreme emotions associated with the pandemic may well be a contributing factor for the increase in dangerous, aggressive driving behavior.

The NHTSA reports on common triggers for road rage, which include:

  • Another’s habitual – or clinical behavior: Some defend their aggressive driving style because that is how they learned or because that is how people drive where they live (such as a city driver). In the case of others, it may be an extension of a clinical illness, such as someone with anger management issues.
  • Running late: A driver feeling the pressure of running late for work or some other important appointment because he or she did not allow additional time for traffic or weather.
  • High traffic volume or delays: Heavy traffic frustrates most of us, but when that irritation turns to rage, it can become dangerous.
  • Anonymity: The cover of being in a car may lead some drivers to be engage in riskier behavior.
  • Blatant disregard for others or for the law: Those whose aggressive driving behavior has been shaped by others with similar behavior may have little respect for others or the law. They may easily be triggered to road rage if someone else gets in their way.

Avoiding Being a Victim of Road Rage

While you cannot control another’s actions, you can decide to protect yourself and others by not engaging with someone who is exhibiting reckless or menacing behavior.

Here are some steps to help you avoid becoming a victim, or “turning” to road rage yourself:

  • Always allow a cushion in your travel time – expect the unexpected
  • If someone wants to speed past you, let them, or safely move into the adjacent lane
  • When other drivers forget turn signals, speed or run a red light, do your best to maneuver safely around them, but do not react in anger
  • Never engage with a reckless driver. Avoid making eye contact and get out of their way as quickly, and safely, as possible

Call Our Firm to Schedule a Free Consultation

Sometimes people get injured despite their best attempts to avoid a reckless driver. If this happens to you, our team of legal professionals are ready to help. We have represented many injured victims throughout Oregon, recovering millions in compensation on their behalf.

Take advantage of the free consultation we offer to get answers to your questions and learn if you may have a valid case. There is no risk or obligation for this meeting.

We charge nothing up front or while we handle your case, and we are prepared to pursue the maximum recovery amount on your behalf. 

Call now for a FREE case evaluation!