Is Road Rage Responsible For Road Traffic Accidents? Today I’ll answer this question in detail. Did you know that despite the invention of smart cars and the continued advancements in road construction technology, traffic accidents are increasing?
The U.S Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that an estimated 31,720 people died of motor vehicle traffic accidents in the United States from January to September 2021. This represents a 12% increase from the 28,325 fatalities estimated over a similar period in 2020.
Most road traffic accidents are attributed to fatigue, vehicle malfunctioning, and human error. However, road carnage also does result from totally avoidable causes, such as road rage. Whether you’re a motorist or pedestrian, you must have wondered whether this can cause traffic accidents. The simple answer is yes; road rage causes accidents, and the fatalities may be higher than you can imagine.
This article explores road rage, its causes, and related traffic accidents, among other areas pertinent to the topic.
What Is Road Rage?
Road rage refers to aggressive driving behavior exhibited by motorists. Road rage mainly occurs when a motorist disagrees with other motorists. For instance, a driver may feel that the car in front of them is driving too slowly and deliberately preventing them from going past. The aggrieved driver may crash into the other vehicle, ostensibly to knock it off the lane. Similarly, a motorist holed up in traffic may take offense at how loudly the car next to them blasts music. A request to turn down the music may fall on deaf ears, giving room for an exchange of insults that could degenerate into an all-out confrontation.
This may also occur when a driver becomes angry at an unrelated traffic incident. These incidents could range from unexpected detours to potholes, etc.
One common denominator with all incidents is that they can easily cause tempers to flare up. And if the parties do not exercise restraint, their actions could result in traffic accidents.
Types of Road Rage
There are two main types. They include:
- Habitual Road Rage – Stems from learned behaviors and is common among drivers with serious character flaws.
- Situational Road Rage – Stems from a specific situation surrounding a driver at the road rage incident, such as unintentionally driving badly and receiving unpleasant news.
What Causes Road Rage?
As already hinted, disagreements between motorists are the leading cause. The disagreement can stem from justifiable reasons to flimsy ones.
Common reasons motorists may disagree include:
- Overusing the car horn
- Headlight flashing
- Playing music loudly
- Dangerously overtaking
- Changing lanes erratically and dangerously
- Driving too slowly
- Distracted driving
- Tailgating – deliberately following another motorist too closely, suggesting that you’re up to some harm
- Making obscene gestures, such as giving another driver the middle finger while overtaking them
Besides disagreements among motorists, road rage may also stem from the following causes:
- Delayed road construction
- Poor road condition, such as many potholes, bumps, or bends
- Unexpected detours
- Heavy traffic caused by accidents or poor road usage by motorists and other road users
- Driving while stressed
- Receiving unpleasant or unexpected news while driving
How Does Road Rage Present Itself?
It can take many shapes and forms. The most common ones include:
- Overusing the horn on other motorists
- Blocking other motorists from going past
- Rude and mean remarks
- Verbal insults
- Yelling or shouting
- Dangerous driving methods targeted at harming other motorists and road users
- Physical fights
Can Road Rage Cause Accidents?
As already indicated, road rage can cause accidents. And depending on the condition of traffic and the degree of resentment between the aggrieved parties, the consequences of road rage can be devastating. According to CBS News, there were 728 road rage incidents in the United States in 2021. About two-thirds of 62% of this number resulted in severe injury or death. Total fatalities were 131.
The situation is even worse in the United Kingdom. According to The Independent, 522 people died or suffered injuries resulting from incidents in the country in 2021. Statistics in the UK may look better than in the US. But if you consider that the US population is nearly five times that of the UK, then it’s evident that more Brits than Americans are engaging in road rage.
Canada has also had its fair share of incidents. Data provided by the World Programming System (WPS) indicates that 314 road rage cases were reported in Canada in 2021. That was up from 241 the previous year.
What makes this such a severe risk is that no one is immune. And if statistics are anything to go by, a whopping 8 out of 10 drivers in the U.S admit to engaging in road rage or driving in a manner likely to trigger it at least once.
It’s easy to bottle up your frustrations and avert possible altercations with fellow motorists. But this only makes sense if you’re the aggrieved party. You have little control over how other motorists behave towards you when they genuinely think you’re in the wrong. They may descend on you with kicks and blows, and you honestly won’t sit back and expect the situation to fizzle itself out.
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