If most motorists unfamiliar with Marion were asked if they thought that there was road rage in our area, they’d likely say no. However, it’s not an issue just in the big cities but in smaller cities like ours in southern Illinois as well. Why do drivers engage in this aggressive driving behavior and want to know how to handle drivers with road rage? We’ll discuss this (and more) below.
What Exactly Is Road Rage?
Road rage is the aggressive operation of any vehicle in a way that could damage property or harm the safety of individuals, whether one is speaking about other drivers, bike riders, motorcyclists, or pedestrians. This practice is illegal per the Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS), and more specifically, 625 ILCS 5/11-503.5 new.
The Illinois State Police (ISP) has compiled a lengthy listing of driver behaviors during road rage incidents. Among those, there are:
- Cutting off traffic
- Making obscene gestures
- Drag racing
- Failing to use a turn signal
- Passing when it’s not allowed (such as where double yellow lines are present)
- Making an improper turn
- Driving down the sidewalk, shoulder, or on a ditch or median
- Suddenly shifting one’s speed
- Failing to yield to the right of way of others
- Brake checking
- Flashing headlights
- Shouting insults
- Weaving in and out of traffic
Why Do Drivers Resort To Road Rage?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reasons why drivers engage in road rage behaviors include:
- They have a disregard for others or the law
- There are traffic delays
- They are running late to their destination
- It’s a habitual or clinical behavior of theirs
- For anonymity reasons
How Serious of a Problem Is Road Rage Becoming?
Many national road rage statistics widely available focus on aggressive driving tactics like speeding, running red lights despite having time to stop, and other reckless driving behaviors. So too does the 2021 AAA Foundation’s Annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, published in December 2022; however, it also covers what most would perceive as road rage too. One of the most alarming statistics the AAA Foundation researchers published shows that at least 30 days prior to taking part in the survey, 23% of participating motorists admitted to switching lanes aggressively and cutting in super close behind another vehicle.
Previous years’ reports have also suggested that:
- 32% of motorists have honked or made rude gestures toward their fellow motorists
- 22% of drivers have passed in front of vehicles with less than a car length
- 25% of motorists have sped up when trying to overtake someone else
As for state-specific statistics, just this past March, the ISP issued a press release in which they attempted to call attention to the alarming increase in road rage-related expressway shootings in Illinois. As one example, in 2022, road rage was a factor in at least 40% of expressway shootings in and around Chicago. This is 12% higher than in 2021. While the incidents highlighted in that report were not specifically from Marion, these situations could happen virtually anywhere.
How To Reduce the Chances of a Motorist Engaging in Road Rage
The ISP contends that the best course of action is to avoid becoming caught in the web of a road-raging driver in the first place. Some ways in which the state law enforcement agency suggests that you can do that include:
- Giving a motorist the right of way (even if they’re not entitled to it) by moving over to your right to allow them to pass
- Slowing down and giving a person the space they need to merge in if they attempt to cut in short in front of you
- Avoiding eye contact or hand gestures that may give way to a confrontation
- Moving away from a speeding motorist into another lane
- Utilizing your turn signal when switching lanes so as not to confuse another driver
In some cases, especially due to some of the underlying factors that cause motorists to engage in road rage in the first place, no matter what you do, you may send another driver over the edge (enrage them). There are some steps for how to deal with road rage described below.
What To Do if a Driver Engages in Road Rage Around You
Another driver aggressively tailgating you or yelling expletives and making hand gestures out their window as they just barely miss clipping your car’s rear or front end when going around you or passing, for example, can make you want to respond negatively in kind, but it’s not worth it. It could end up with you seriously hurt in an assault or, even worse, dead.
Instead, if you find yourself at the receiving end of road rage, be sure to steer clear of doing the following so as not to aggravate the situation and escalate the other driver’s response:
- Avoid making eye contact with the other motorist
- Don’t exchange any facial or hand gestures with the instigator
Also, whenever possible, do the following to protect your safety and minimize the chances of violence ensuing:
- Change lanes to distance yourself from the angry motorist
- Consider turning off the roadway to get away from the irate driver
Why You Should Never Stop for a Road Rager
In terms of the latter, most law enforcement agencies who investigate these incidents would suggest that drivers avoid pulling over and stopping as this could leave them a sitting duck for physical violence. However, if they feel the need to stop, drivers should not proceed home but instead pull over at a safe place (like at a police station).
Additionally, if you must stop at a stop sign, light, or in traffic and the road rage driver approaches your car, it’s recommended to:
- Lock your doors
- Call 911
- Hold down your horn
- Never vacate your vehicle or engage in a verbal altercation
Our car accident attorney has experience handling road rage incidents that have left innocent motorists and other individuals seriously hurt or deceased. Here at Prince Law Firm, we believe that our small role in advocating for the rights of road rage victims is key to not only getting them the help they need to move on with their lives but also ending this deadly driving behavior. Let us advocate for you and your interests. Your initial case consultation is free.