How prevalent is road rage in NJ and the rest of the country?

Aggressive driving and road rage are two dangerous forms of driving. Both involve angry, impatient drivers who put others on the road at risk.

New Jersey is known for its congested traffic and complicated road systems. When heavy traffic is combined with stressed out people in a hurry, the result can be deadly. Road rage is a problem that has been increasing in recent years. However, drivers do not need to be engaging in full-blown road rage to present a danger to others. Recent studies have shown that most drivers have driven aggressively at least once in their lives.

According to studies by AAA and others, about 80 percent of drivers said they had driven angrily or aggressively during the past year. Aggressive driving can include actions that people might consider a normal part of traffic, such as speeding, cutting others off, honking the horn or using angry hand gestures. In some cases, aggressive driving turns into road rage. It is estimated that hundreds of people have been killed and thousands have been seriously injured by road rage incidents over the past few years, according to NBC News.

Bus driver stands off against FedEx driver

One recent incident illustrates how quickly road rage can develop, as well as how it can happen to anyone, including professional drivers. NJ.com reported that last September, a school bus in Lakewood attempted to drive around a FedEx truck that was slowly accelerating at a green light. The bus driver swerved illegally across a double-yellow line into the opposite lane of traffic, and the FedEx driver retaliated by moving the truck closer to the bus and almost running it off the road. Fortunately, there was no oncoming traffic at the time, and authorities said there were no children on the bus. The bus driver, however, later lost his job.

Difference between aggressive driving and road rage

Aggressive driving can cause car crashes, injuries and property damage, but slightly differs from true road rage. During road rage, the driver intentionally attempts to harm someone else. A driver engaging in road rage may use his or her vehicle as a weapon or use something else in the car to harm the other person. In 37 percent of road rage cases, claims the American Safety Council, firearms are involved. Road rage is considered a criminal offense due to the intentional nature of an attack.

Those who are targeted by angry drivers may reduce their chances of being harmed by trying the following:

  • Use a cellphone to call 911 and request help.
  • Drive to a well-lit, safe area, such as a police station, fire station or busy parking lot.
  • Attempt to get out of the other driver's way without endangering others.
  • Do not react to the other driver's actions or engage in retaliatory behavior.
  • Refrain from using angry hand gestures, swearing or aggressive horn honking.
  • Do not drive home while being pursued.

It may not always be possible to avoid an angry or irrational driver. Those who are injured by the actions of others may wish to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in Eatontown to discuss their options.