Driving on Southern California roadways can often be a frustrating experience. Almost all drivers feel irritated or annoyed when they drive, especially when someone cuts them off, runs a stop sign, or makes an improper lane change. However, irritation or annoyance becomes road wage when retaliatory action is taken in a manner that puts others in harm’s way.
Road rage is explosive anger caused by inconveniences and incidents while driving. Often, a raging driver believes they have been wronged in some way. They get swept up in rage or anger and take action against the perceived wrongdoer. Most instances of road rage may result in hand gestures or shouting expletives. However, there are cases when this has led to violence. Statistics show how prevalent road rage is and how frequently it could lead to violence that causes injuries or even fatalities.
How Does Road Rage Affect Skills and Judgment?
Road rage can have an impact on both your driving skills and judgment. This could cause you to be involved in a violent incident or crash. When people lose their temper, they tend to tune out everything around them and focus on the person who aroused that anger. When you are a driver who another motorist has angered on the road, you tend to focus all your attention and anger on that motorist. You may not notice a vehicle or pedestrian who is in your way. When angry, you may also react by speeding or ignoring specific road rules. Road rage also affects your judgment. When you feel stressed and angry, you may make a poor decision by engaging in dangerous behavior such as speeding, following too closely, or blowing through a red light. These actions could put you, your passengers, and others on the roadway in grave danger.
Road Rage Shootings Are On the Rise
According to several recent reports, shootings relating to road rage appear to be surging. According to an analysis by Everytown for Gun Safety, more than 500 people in the United States were killed or wounded in road-rage shootings in 2021. It is unclear what is causing this violence, but gun-safety advocates say pandemic-related stressors and record increases in gun purchases may be factors. In 2021, nearly 400 people were injured, and 130 more were fatally shot during encounters with aggressive or raging drivers, compared to 225 injured and 68 killed in 2019. In an average month in 2021, 44 people were shot in road-rage incidents, double the average before the pandemic. The numbers don’t seem to be slowing down in 2022, either. According to Everytown, just in the first three months of 2022, there were 114 incidents of road-rage shootings. Arizona, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin had the highest rate of road-rage shootings, according to Everytown’s data analysis.
Is Road Rage Considered a Criminal Offense?
Road rage occurs when a driver reacts to a provocation or perceived provocation with reckless, threatening, or violent behavior. How a driver expresses, his or her anger could well determine what type of criminal charges they may face. Here are some of the criminal charges possible in a road rage incident: Aggressive or reckless driving: It is illegal under California Vehicle Code Section 23103 to drive a vehicle in a manner that endangers the safety of others. A driver convicted of this offense could face a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in county jail. Penalties may be higher if reckless driving results in bodily injury to another.
- Assault: If the driver physically threatens or attempts to threaten someone else, they could be charged with assault under California Penal Code 240 PC. Assault is a misdemeanor offense and could result in up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.
- Battery: If the road rage results in a driver hitting or using force against someone else, they could face battery charges. Penalties for this charge are up to $2,000 in fines and up to six months in county jail. If the battery results in severe injuries, additional penalties are likely.
- Assault with a deadly weapon: If a driver used a vehicle in a manner that could be considered assault, he or she could be charged with assault with a deadly weapon under Penal Code Section 245. This serious criminal charge could result in up to four years in state prison.
License Suspensions for Road Rage
Road rage could also result in the California Department of Motor Vehicles suspending the offending motorist’s driver’s license. Motorists could face up to six months of driver’s license suspension for a first-time offense or a one-year suspension for a subsequent offense. The DMV could suspend your license for road rage by declaring you a negligent operator or finding that you lack driving skills.
Tips to Avoid Road Rage
Here are a few ways to avoid road rage:
- · Always plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time on the road.
- · Calm yourself down by relaxing to music you enjoy.
- · Let people go. If someone is tailgating you, move over and let them go.
- · Do not engage with angry drivers. Avoid eye contact and get away from them quickly and safely.
- · Be the grownup. If someone is throwing expletives or obscene gestures your way, ignore them. Do not respond.
- · Don’t take the angry driver’s aggression personally.
- · If an aggressive driver follows you, do not go home. Instead, drive to the nearest police station.
If you have been injured in an accident
triggered by road rage, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, damages, and losses. Call an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer to obtain more information about your legal rights and options.