Think back to a time when you were running late for an event. Classic Los Angeles traffic has you stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 405. People are honking, some are swerving from lane to lane, and others are forgetting to turn on their blinkers before making turns. You feel angry, frustrated, and maybe even enraged.
Road rage is common — we have all been there at some point in our lives. However, some are more prone to it than others. Excessive road rage incidents can lead to potential personal injury or wrongful death cases.
What Is the Meaning of Road Rage?
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), road rage is commonly defined as aggressive, sometimes violent, behavior by drivers. Road rage usually stems from stress — related to driving or non-driving factors.
Typically, road rage manifests in response to the actions of other drivers, such as speeding, illegal maneuvers, sudden turns, and false assumptions of other road user actions. Road rage can involve the following aggressive behaviors:
- Gesturing (e.g., flipping someone off)
- Cutting off other vehicles
- Excessive honking
- Physical altercations between drivers outside the vehicle
Road rage can escalate quickly, depending on the person and situation, and can lead to dangerous encounters or accidents. The results of road rage can be threatening to the drivers involved, as well as everyone else around them on the road.
What Is Road Rage a Symptom of?
Road rage can be a manifestation or symptom of underlying factors and conditions, including but not limited to those outlined below.
- Stress and anger. Built-up anger and frustration can come out in the form of road rage. If you have had a stressful day, the negative internal feelings can become exacerbated when encountering too many red lights or a slow driver on the road.
- Impatience. People who are more susceptible to impatience can get highly frustrated by heavy traffic, poor drivers, and road construction or delays.
- Substance abuse. Consuming alcohol or drugs before getting behind the wheel impairs your judgment and self-control, leading to fatal accidents or aggressive behavior on the road.
- Personality traits and mental health issues. Some people are prone to aggression, anxiety, and impulsivity. If you struggle with anger management, you might notice that you experience road rage often. Underlying mental health conditions, such as intermittent explosive disorder (IED), involve sudden outbursts of aggression, which can contribute to road rage, too.
According to the American Psychological Association, “Research suggests that young males are the most likely to perpetrate road rage.” High-anger drivers tend to act aggressively, have hostile thoughts, and take more risks on the road (e.g., driving over the speed limit). They’re also more likely to yell or swear at other drivers and honk incessantly.
How Do I Stop Road Rage?
Road rage becomes a problem when it is highly recurrent or leads to dangerous or aggressive behavior. Below are a few tips on how to minimize road rage.
- Take deep breaths. When you feel the anger rising inside of you, take deep breaths to calm your heart rate. Try breathing in for four seconds and breathing out for six seconds — longer exhales. Longer exhales can calm the nervous system and lower your blood pressure.
- Leave early. Plan ahead to avoid feeling rushed. The more rushed you feel, the more stressed and frustrated you will become, leading to road rage. When possible, avoid driving during the peak of rush hour traffic to ensure you arrive at your destination on time.
- Put on calming music. Listening to your favorite relaxing tunes can help set a calming mood, reducing any anger or anxiety that might arise in the midst of traffic.
What Do I Do If I Encounter Someone With Road Rage?
The No. 1 priority is to stay calm and try to diffuse the situation. Avoid any reactions that might escalate the situation, such as making eye contact, reacting aggressively, or engaging with the angry driver.
Rather than confronting the driver, it is better to ignore the road rage as best you can. Keep your doors locked and windows closed to create a physical separation from the situation. If someone else’s road rage leads to a car accident, take all the necessary steps toward safety.
First, call 911 if anyone is hurt. Once you ensure everyone is OK, collect the driver’s contact information, including their name, address, license plate number, insurance information, and more. You will also want to mark the date, time, and location of the accident and take photos of the car damage or relevant road conditions.
Consider Legal Action
If you are involved in an accident caused by road rage, you should consider contacting a personal injury or wrongful death lawyer (Los Angeles and surrounding areas). A legal representative can help you seek compensation for any injuries wrongfully sustained in a road rage case. John J. Perlstein is known as the best personal injury attorney in Los Angeles, and will do everything in his power to hold the driver responsible for their role in your accident.
And in cases of wrongful death, a Los Angeles wrongful death lawyer can help prove that another’s road rage led to the accident and subsequent death. Family members of a wrongful death victim can receive compensation for medical bills, funeral expenses, loss of income, and loss of companionship.
If you are a road rage accident victim or a loved one of a victim, you should seek legal guidance as soon as possible to ensure your filing meets California’s statute of limitations. Our Los Angeles wrongful death law firm offers a free consultation to help victims understand their options before committing to a formal case. We encourage all victims to discuss their cases and concerns with a wrongful death or personal injury attorney in Los Angeles to make an informed choice.
A Personal Injury Attorney in Los Angeles Can Help
If you are involved in a road rage incident of any kind, we recommend reaching out to a personal injury or wrongful death attorney immediately.
John J. Perlstein, one of the top personal injury attorneys in Los Angeles, has over 25 years of experience securing fair and just outcomes in personal injury cases. He will ensure accurate compensation for victims of car accidents and other personal injuries. You can reach us at (213) 583-5786.
Alternatively, complete the form on our website to schedule a free consultation with personal injury lawyers (Los Angeles and the surrounding area). This consultation will provide you with an opportunity to discuss your situation with us. We are here to help.