“Road rage” is a termed coined by a television news station in response to several incidents of freeway shootings in the 1990s. Many have expanded the term to encompass all forms of aggressive driving.

However, while both aggressive driving and road rage are dangerous, there are differences between the two.  Utah motorists should be aware of what aggressive driving and road rage are, the extent of the problem of these behaviors and how to avoid aggressive drivers and prevent auto accidents .

What is the difference between road rage and aggressive driving?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s definition of aggressive driving is “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.” Some examples of aggressive driving include speeding, sudden and unsignaled lane changes, following other vehicles too closely, driving too fast for the road conditions, ignoring traffic control signals, frequently honking car horns, flashing headlights and improperly passing other vehicles.

Road rage is a criminal offense, unlike aggressive driving which is a traffic offense. According to the NHTSA, road rage is when a driver commits a “moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property; an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger of one motor vehicle on the operator or passengers of another motor vehicle.” The difference between road rage and aggressive driving is that a driver committing an act of road rage specifically intends to harm another, while an aggressive driver is putting others on the road at risk of harm but not targeting another specifically.

How big of a problem are road rage and aggressive driving?

Aggressive driving and road rage are serious problems. According to data from the NHTSA and Auto Vantage auto club, 66 percent of traffic fatalities are attributable to aggressive driving. This data also shows that 37 percent of all road rage incidents involve a firearm. Aggressive driving often begets aggression in response, leading to further danger of auto accidents. Half of drivers survey replied that when they are victims of aggressive driving, they respond with aggressive actions of their own.

How can people avoid aggressive drivers?

People can take some steps to help protect themselves from aggressive drivers and prevent road rage incidents, including:

  • Not reacting to other drivers’ aggressive behaviors in manners that could be seen as threatening, such as braking suddenly, honking the horn or using obscene gestures
  • Locking vehicle doors
  • Leaving enough space between vehicles when following to be able to pull out from behind the vehicle in front of you
  • Travelling to a police station or other safe place if followed by a threatening driver

People who cannot control their anger while driving put everyone on the road in danger, and their behavior causes auto accidents. If you have been injured by an aggressive driver, speak with a skilled auto accident attorney who can help you hold that driver accountable for his or her actions and recover just compensation for all of your losses.