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Road Rage & Aggressive Drivers: When Tempers Flare On Chicago Roads

Car accident attorneys

When people are running late for work, stuck in traffic, or get cut off by another driver, tempers can flare. Road rage is common on Chicago roads. The degree of road rage can be a matter of life and death, however.

For most people, road rage is nothing more than a rude gesture, a shout out the window or a honk of the horn. According to the 2016 AAA statistics cited by CNN, the actions of some drivers during a road rage incident are far more serious.

According to the data:

  • 51% of drivers purposely tailgated other drivers
  • 24% purposely blocked other vehicles from changing lanes
  • 12% purposely cut off other drivers
  • 3% purposely ram or hit another vehicle
  • 4% actually escalated the situation to physical violence

What drives someone to become enraged on the road?

For some people, this type of behavior is more commonplace, as the fast pace of today's world fuels the conditions for road rage to exist. Certain circumstances, however, can trigger any driver to become aggressive. For example, a driver who experienced a job loss may take his or her anger out on the road, especially if inconvenienced by another driver.

"There is a small percent of people who are very close to the edge of losing control at any second," said Andy Pilgrim of the Traffic Safety Education Foundation.

In a YouTube video, one doctor says the underlying cause of road rage comes down to these factors:

  • The angrier we get, the less we think: According to the doctor, drivers could lose up to 80 percent of their intelligence when they engage in road rage.
  • Lack of accountability: Drivers who would never behave a certain way when face-to-face with another individual may feel safe doing so behind the wheel.
  • Lack of respect: In our culture, we generally lack respect for each other, especially on the road.

How does aggressive driving play a role in road rage?

Aggressive driving can involve any risky maneuver done either out of stress or to get even with another driver. In most cases, stress-related aggressive driving involves speeding, blowing through traffic signals, weaving in and out of traffic, cutting off other drivers, and failing to yield to other drivers.

When road rage becomes a factor, drivers may engage in the following behaviors:

  • Tailgating, chasing, or high beaming another driver
  • Sudden, hard braking (also called "brake-checking")
  • Purposely swerving or cutting off another driver

All of these behaviors can result in a serious or fatal crash. That's why it's best not to engage an aggressive driver. CNN suggests avoiding a catastrophic situation by doing the following:

  • Keeping stress levels down and receiving adequate sleep (7-9 hours per night)
  • Never assuming the right-of-way
  • Understanding that another driver's errors are unintentional and letting them slide
  • Avoiding conflict or eye contact with an aggressive driver

In the event that you or a loved one is hurt in a crash with someone driving aggressively or engaging in road rage, you may be eligible to pursue damages through a car accident claim. Doing so, however, is easier said than done. You need an experienced litigator on your side. Get a lawyer who knows how to hold reckless drivers accountable and negotiate with insurance companies.

The legal team at Chicago-area law firm Coplan + Crane know how to handle cases involving road rage and aggressive driving, and get results. Our law offices are located in Oak Park and Rockford. To schedule your free case evaluation with one of our attorneys, contact us online.

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