You never know if it will happen to you, but more and more Road Rage cases are popping up yearly. There are over 1200 cases of road rage that are actually reported on the books each year, as many never report such instances. But not all states have enacted an aggressive “road rage” law where offenders are charged with an assault and battery or vehicular manslaughter if someone is killed in the incident. Web sites such as AboveAverageDriver.com have been set up to provide an outlet for the average “road rager” to vent their frustrations. But just as there are severe penalties for DUI’s such as outrageous fines, potential jail times and AA programs, there are now similar laws and consequences for “road rage” offenders.
According to reports from the AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety (not affiliated with the American Automobile Association);
“More than 45 million motorists have engaged in aggressive driving and road rage driving behavior. Ten percent exhibit this behavior several times a week and 22 percent exhibited this type of behavior once a month.” (www.wa.gov/dol/drivers/roadrage.htm)"
According to the AAA, “18 to 28-year-old males are the most likely candidates to succumb to road rage”, but remember, anyone can lose their cool at anytime. One solution to this which some law enforcement have offered, would be to carry a “sorry” sign in your car. Law Officials claim that many road rage offenders have said that if the other driver had simply made an effort to apologize, they would not have gotten so heated. It’s not a bad idea, considering it is a simple way of resolving a possible violent confrontation over something as minor as cutting someone off by accident.
But should we carry a “sorry” sign in case such an incident happens? Years ago while I was just starting college, I was driving to school one day and apparently cut off a woman I had not noticed in the other lane. She pulled up and honked at me screaming that I cut her off. I apologized and thought she accepted. So we went on our way, and then I noticed her veer her car in front of mine and proceed to throw things like coffee mugs, pens, notepads, etc. at my car. She had officially snapped, driving dangerously like a psycho following me and at one point getting out of her car at a light and trying to get into mine. But what I observed next was what was more frightening than anything that was going on. This woman had a small child about 3 years old in the car. I had seen and had enough, and called 911. As soon as she heard the sirens, she took off, but not without me writing down her plates. Within hours, they found this woman and arrested her. The incident also took place in a prominent Orange County beach community where this type of act is taken very seriously. So much so that it got the attention of the DA and they prosecuted her heavily. Some communities do this to set an example, a precedent, but in her case they not only charged her with the usual assault charges, but also child endangerment, etc. She surrendered to all charges, and claimed that she snapped even though she admitted I apologized to her. She was given a few days in jail, fines, anger management and probation.
So a “sorry” might do the trick, or it might not. It may not stop that offender who becomes aggravated due to heavy traffic, the nature of other drivers, or simply because he/she is having a bad day. She was also not a male 18-28 as the AAA statistics represent. So really, anyone can snap at anytime. In any case, if it gets too out of hand it’s just best to call the Police, and let them handle it, it will be a better reality check for those “road ragers” who just can’t seem to let it go.
And if you find yourself being the enraged driver the next time someone cuts you off, or makes an unnecessary move whether intentional or not, take a deep breath and don’t take it personal. Before you get into your road warrior stance and set out to get revenge, think about the consequences. Sure, you’ve got your pride and it may not be “cool” to let someone get away with it. But again, that woman in my situation would have been far better off just letting it go and accepting my apology. Plus these days you can’t be too sure who has got a gun and who doesn’t, and not letting them get away with it may end up costing your life.