Kentucky Aggressive Driving Accident AttorneyAggressive Driving Threatens Us All
Just about all of us drive aggressively. While most of us do it only occasionally, there are others who drive aggressively all the time. There are enough dangers on the road without drivers who treat Kentucky’s streets and highways as their own and look upon other drivers as annoyances who need to get out of the way. At their worst, aggressive drivers can use violence against others.
Aggressive driving occurs when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), reports the Insurance Information Institute . A 2009 study by the American Automobile Association found that aggressive driving played a role in 56% of fatal crashes from 2003 through 2007, with excessive speed being the most common factor. Aggressive driving also includes the following:
- Following too close
- Improper or erratic lane changing
- Driving on the shoulder, sidewalk or median
- Passing in no-passing zones
- Driving in an erratic, reckless, careless or negligent manner
- Suddenly changing speeds
- Driving too fast for conditions or over the posted speed limit
- Making an improper turn
- Failing to yield right of way, obey traffic signs or signals, observe warnings or instructions on vehicle displaying them or to use one’s turn signal.
The Insurance Information Institute states speeding was the top aggressive driving action associated with fatal crashes in 2013, contributing to 19.9% of fatal crashes, followed by driving under the influence, at 13.5%.
Eight out of ten drivers surveyed in the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index stated aggressive driving is a “serious” or “extremely serious” risk jeopardizing their safety, but half of those surveyed admitted to driving over speed limits by more than 15% in the past thirty days.
A quarter of those responding stated speeding was acceptable.
What leads to aggressive driving? Ayalla Ruvio, an assistant professor with the Fox School of Business at Temple University, published the results of two studies of drivers in Israel. It considered the influence of personality, attitudes, risk taking, being impulsive, driving as a self-indulgence and time pressure. They identified these characteristics of those who are more likely to drive aggressively:
- See their vehicle as a reflection of their identity
- Have compulsive tendencies and disregard potential consequences
- Feel their possessions are important to them
- Because of their youth, may feel a need to show off their vehicle and driving skills but are overconfident and underestimate the risks of reckless driving
- Feel they are under time pressure.
Professor Ruvio wrote that seeing a vehicle as an extension of one’s self leads to aggressive driving. If a car and the space they fill are seen as personal territory, a driver may try to maintain control over it and defend it as necessary.
On the far end of the aggressive driving spectrum are those engaging in road rage. The AAA Foundation published three studies on aggressive driving and road rage, or acts of violence committed by aggressive drivers. It estimates at least 1,500 men, women, and children are injured or killed each year in the U.S. as a result of road rage. Based on information from 10,037 reported road rage incidents from 1990 to 1996, one study concluded anyone could be a victim and no one profile easily fits a person engaged in road rage.
- The majority of the perpetrators are between 18 and 26 years old, relatively poorly educated males with criminal records, histories of violence and addiction problems.
- Many of them recently suffered an emotional or professional setback, an injury or an accident.
- Hundreds of aggressive drivers who “snapped” and committed violence were successful men and women with no known histories of crime, violence, alcohol, or drug abuse which might impair judgement.
Violent traffic disputes are rarely triggered by a single incident but are usually the result of a number of stressors in the driver’s life. The incident that turns violent is often “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Other factors in road rage incidents are domestic violence and racism.
There were 218 men, women, and children killed and 12,610 people injured in the 10,037 road rage incidents studied.
In roughly 4,400 of the 10,037 incidents, the perpetrator used a firearm, knife, club, fist, feet or other weapon; and in about 2,300 cases, the aggressive driver used his or her own vehicle (in just over half of those cases, both the vehicle and some weapon was used). The most common weapons used were firearms (37%) and motor vehicles (35%).
Aggressive driving isn’t something that happens only on the crowded freeways of Los Angeles; even some Kentuckians have been the victim of such aggression:
- In April 2015 a Lexington resident stated his vehicle touched another vehicle while driving on Loudon Avenue. The other driver left his vehicle and shot into the victim’s vehicle, hitting his hand, according to the Herald Leader.
- Lexington police arrested a Georgetown resident after he was involved in a minor two-car accident in November 2013, reported the Herald Leader. After the accident he got into an argument with the family of the other driver. He punched the driver in the face and shot him in the leg.
You can take steps to try to avoid being the victim of aggressive driving and road rage. The AAA Foundation has these suggestions:
- Keep your opinion to yourself. Rude gestures can trigger a dangerous incident. Keep your hands on the wheel.
- Be a cautious and courteous driver. Use your signal lights when turning or merging. Try not to use your horn.
- Don’t compete for parking spaces — just let the other person have it.
- Don’t cut off other drivers when merging onto the highway or changing lanes. If someone is cutting you off, just let them in.
- If you’re one of the slower drivers on the highway, stay to the right. Driving the speed limit in the passing lane may anger others and put you in danger.
- Don’t tailgate. The driver in front of you may get angry. If you’re driving too close, it makes passing more dangerous and increases the chances you will rear-end the vehicle.
The reason for driving is to get from one place to another safely. Aggressive driving makes that more difficult and less safe for everyone. Becoming angry or upset at an aggressive or unsafe driver could result in your becoming aggressive and unsafe. The roads are no place for vengeance.
If you or a loved one has been injured because of the aggressive driving by another in Kentucky, you should seek the services of an experienced motor vehicle accident litigator such as Julie Butcher. Call us at (859) 233-3641 or fill out the online contact form so we can talk about the incident, the injuries, the applicable laws and your best options to obtain compensation.