One unfortunate trend that is frequently in news reports and throughout the media is road rage. The way we react to others on the road impacts the safety of ourselves, our loved ones, and the others on the road to whom we owe a legal duty of care. As we’ve discussed before, as drivers, every time we get behind the wheel of a vehicle, we are responsible for our behavior. It is our legal duty to not be the cause of injury to others, and we need to act as safe drivers, not with negligence or recklessness.
According to a recent report by ABC 7 Chicago, one incident of road rage was so extreme that two people were placed in a situation where they feared for their lives. The incident was caught on cellphone video while two women were driving on Interstate 80, and a pickup truck driver cut them off. One of the women admits that she gave the driver “the finger” after being cut off. However, she didn’t expect that driver would then lose her cool to the extreme that was caught on camera. After receiving that gesture, the truck driver began to swerve across the highway and then slammed on her brakes in order to get the two women in the vehicle to stop. The truck driver then got out of her truck, approached the two women in the car, and claimed she was a police officer. They did not believe her and called 911 to confirm she was not an officer. They took off driving again, but the truck driver began to follow them, attempting to push them off the road by hitting their car. They called 911 and were instructed to take the next exit where an officer would be waiting. Police then tracked down the pickup truck driver and arrested her based on assault with a deadly weapon. She had just been released from jail a few hours earlier based on felony hit-and-run charges.
It seems that these two women took the right step in protecting themselves and preventing this driver from harming others. Not only did they capture it on video in a way to identify the driver, but they also immediately called the police. By doing so, the police could respond quickly and apprehend the dangerous driver.
It is clear from this case and many others in recent news that road rage is a serious issue. According to the National Safety Council, aggressive driving can include speeding, frequent and unnecessary lane changes, tailgating, and running lights. Such behaviors create unsafe conditions and lead to road rage. Road rage is a problem because it switches the focus from our legal duty to keep the roads safe for all to the individual, selfishness, and retaliation. However, driving is supposed to be cooperative, not a competitive sport nor focused on individual rights and freedoms. Additionally, over the last 30 years, the number of miles driven in the United States has increased by 38% while the number of miles available on our roads has increased by less than 1%. This means there is more travel and increased congestion, and many drivers respond to this frustration by acting aggressively.
While we do not condone disrespectful gestures such as giving another driver “the finger,” we definitely do not believe that drivers should retaliate in reckless ways that endangers others’ lives. Attempting to cause someone serious bodily injury is not a proportionate response to a rude gesture. Instead, it completely breaches our legal duty as drivers to be safe and act in a way that does not create accidents or injury to others.
Thankfully, the individuals in this incident did not suffer injury, but this is often not the case with road rage. If you have suffered injury due to another’s negligent and reckless driving, or driving that is retaliatory in nature, you may be able to obtain compensation and hold that individual liable through a personal injury lawsuit. Call our firm today for a free consultation, and one of our attorneys would be happy to discuss your legal options with you.