It happens to the best of us. Someone cuts you off in traffic and brings the worst out in you. The next thing you know, your adrenaline is running high and emotions are clouding your judgment. Getting revenge seems paramount. This is the time to slow down and think.
Aggressive driving, or “road rage” has become all too common and Jacksonville is not immune. In fact, in 2005, a local doctor caused a car accident that killed a woman on J. Turner Butler Road in Jacksonville. The doctor was charged with vehicular homicide after causing her to lose control and run off the road.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 66 percent of traffic fatalities are at least partially caused by aggressive driving each year. Add to that the fact that there has been a 51 percent increase in road rage car accidents since 1990, and it is clear that we should all do our part to avoid aggressive driving situations.
Some examples of aggressive driving include speeding, cutting off a driver, weaving through traffic, running a stop light or tailgating. Many people do not understand the serious consequences of following someone too closely. The rule of thumb is one car length for every 10 miles per hour you are traveling. That means if you are going 50 miles an hour, allow at least five car lengths between you and the vehicle in front of you. Following any closer makes it extremely difficult to stop in time and often results in rear-end automobile accidents.
Sometimes aggressive driving actions escalate, and lead to forcing another driver completely off the road, yelling and using offensive hand gestures. In worst-case scenarios, road rage incidents involve the use of physical force or firearms. In fact, 37 percent of all road rage car accidents since 1990 have involved a firearm.
Here are some tips to avoid aggressive drivers or becoming one yourself:
• Give yourself plenty of time. Being late can cause stress, which often leads to frustration with other drivers. Having plenty of time to reach your destination will help you to relax and enjoy the ride without speeding.
• Make sure you are well rested. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Association reports that more than 56,000 car accidents are caused by sleepy drivers every year.
• Do not challenge drivers by tailgating them to get them to switch lanes. Speeding up and passing them, then putting on your brakes is a recipe for disaster.
• Practice amnesty. Give the other driver the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they have a special situation, like a medical emergency, where they need to get ahead of you. In the long run, it will not save you much time by not allowing them to merge.
Being angry and impatient on the road does not pay off. Drive defensively and calmly. Avoid distractions and other drivers who are exhibiting aggressive driving behavior. Nobody wins when it comes to road rage.
Written by Elizabeth Allen
If you or a family member has been involved in a car accident in the North Florida area where aggressive driving was a factor, contact our Jacksonville car accident attorneys. We can help you determine if you deserve compensation for your injuries and there is no charge unless we obtain a settlement on your behalf.