In a recent survey of 2,705 drivers across the U.S., the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that nearly 80 percent of drivers reported they had engaged in aggressive driving or road rage at least one time in the previous year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines road rage as “an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of one motor vehicle or precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway.”
Road Rage in Georgia
Indeed, road rage has come to Georgia. In January, road rage resulted in a broken windshield when one driver threw an object at the car in front of him after he was brake-checked – even though he tailgated that driver for nearly seven miles. In November 2017, a man and woman beat a 68-year-old man with a tire iron following a road rage incident. The assault occurred after the man and woman cut in front of the 68-year-old man, who then slammed on his brakes and honked his horn. There was no contact between the two vehicles.
However, this reprehensible conduct is just the tip of the iceberg. In October 2016, road rage resulted in the death of the driver of a black Honda. Some event apparently occurred that enraged the driver of the black Honda and the driver of a white Dodge. After stopping to retrieve a gun from his trunk, the Honda driver pulled up on the passenger side of the Dodge and pointed his gun at the driver. The Dodge driver, who also had a gun, was faster on the draw and shot the Honda driver four times. To date, the shooter has not been charged with any crime.
In Okonee County, a driver literally dodged a bullet when another driver shot at him and missed. The bullet lodged in the victim’s passenger door. The shooter was charged with aggravated assault. Investigation revealed that the two drivers had been engaging equally in aggressive tactics against each other until the shooting brought their raging against each other to an end.
Sometimes, as shown in a Cobb County case, it is difficult to discern who is the victim and who is the perpetrator. A woman claimed she was backing out of her driveway when another driver swerved around her, so she honked her horn. The other driver “cursed,” so the woman’s passenger, her boyfriend, got out of the car and began approaching the other driver, who pulled a gun and shouted for the boyfriend to not move (in substantially more colorful language). When the woman pulled out her phone and took a picture, the swerving driver and his gun left the scene.
Law enforcement took the woman’s report but concluded the man with the gun was the victim. He felt threatened when the boyfriend began approaching his car. An impartial magistrate refused to issue an arrest warrant.
Aggressive Driving Escalating to Road Rage
Aggressive driving is against the law in Georgia and is a “misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.” Road rage and aggressive driving are synonymous with one another. Aggressive driving often escalates the extent of the “road rage”.
Examples of aggressive driving include:
- Making obscene gestures.
- Pounding your hand on your steering wheel.
- Throwing objects around the car while driving.
- Yelling at your passengers.
- Flashing your headlights.
- Cutting off the other driver.
- Preventing the other driver from making a lane change.
- Weaving in and out of traffic.
- Ignoring traffic signals and road signs.
- Any maneuver that places other drivers in danger.
Examples of road rage include:
- Bumping another car with your car.
- Chasing down another driver in order to confront him or her.
- Running another car off of the road or making an attempt to do so.
- Pulling off the roadway and engaging in a physical confrontation with the other driver.
- Using any sort of force or weapon to intimidate, threaten, or harm another driver.
Road Rage and Aggressive Driving Statistics
The NHTSA has compiled the following statistics concerning aggressive driving and road rage.
- Over a seven-year period, there were 218 murders and 12,610 injuries due to road rage.
- 66 percent of all traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving.
- 37 percent of aggressive driving or road rage incidents involve a firearm.
- 50 percent of all drivers who are at the receiving end of road rage admit that they responded with aggressive driving tactics.
- Most drivers who exhibit road rage are under the age of 19.
The AAA is concerned that the true prevalence of road rage is higher than the statistics show due to under reporting of aggressive driving and road rage incidents.
Road Rage Attorneys at Georgia Trial Attorneys
If you were injured, or a family member was injured or killed, in an accident that you believe was due to another driver’s aggressive driving or road rage, contact one of the experienced road rage attorneys at Georgia Trial Attorneys, for a free case evaluation.