Psychologists—and safety experts—have spent a lot of time studying aggressive behavior in drivers.
Many drivers see their vehicles as an extension of their personal space. They may be able to drive calmly under conditions of light traffic, but as the road becomes congested, they feel threatened. Their reaction is aggression. Every maneuver by another vehicle is seen as a challenge to their control of the highway; every mistake by another driver is a deliberate assault.
This is how the phenomenon called “road rage” begins. A driver becomes stimulated and hyper-vigilant, then aggressive and paranoid. He seeks out opportunities to “ward off” other drivers who may challenge his dominance.
The danger is that aggression feeds aggression. It’s easy for one driver’s aggressive behavior to trigger road rage in several other nearby vehicles. Each driver feels compelled to score a victory by forcing the others to back off—or, if necessary, by running the others off the road. It’s a terrifying situation for passengers and for drivers not involved in this mad competition.
Interrupting the cycle
Road rage on North Carolina highways is often controllable. The first step is recognizing the behaviors that accompany increased driver aggression.
Ask yourself the following questions:
Do you have trouble dealing with frustration while driving? If traffic slows, or you are caught in a traffic jam on I-40, do you begin to get angry?
Do you often find yourself swearing or insulting other drivers, even if they can’t hear you?
Do you ever engage in tailgating (driving extremely closely behind) a vehicle that you feel isn’t moving with the flow of traffic, or one driven by a poorly skilled driver?
Do you make frequently lane changes to bypass cars that are moving too slowly?
Do you often drive faster than the posted speed limit?
Do you often take a chance driving through an amber light, or even occasionally run a red light or stop sign?
Do you use your horn and high-beam lights to let other drivers know when they annoy you?
Do you feel the need to correct the behavior of bad drivers?
A “yes” answer to any of these questions may show signs that you have tendencies to be an aggressive driver.
If you notice aggressive driving tendencies in yourself, it’s very important to take the next step to control your reactions when you see another vehicle driven aggressively in New Hanover County. Remind yourself that the other driver’s misbehavior is not a challenge to your driving skill. If possible, avoid the other vehicle; you might even take an unscheduled rest break to leave the road for five minutes.
Aggressive driving, traffic safety, and the courts
It should be no surprise that aggressive driving can easily cause a serious North Carolina traffic accident. Most people understand that an aggressive driver who causes a car crash near Wilmington is going to be held accountable for the injuries that result—and he may even face criminal charges.
What most people overlook, though, is that the driver in this case may also be held responsible for paying punitive damages for a North Carolina vehicle accident. Acting with malice rather than mere negligence can open an aggressive driver to a much higher claim for damages.
If you have suffered an injury due to an aggressive driver in North Carolina, contact Speaks Law Firm today. Our traffic injury attorneys in Wilmington offer free, confidential consultations to our North Carolina neighbors with questions about their legal rights to compensation. Call us today at 910-341-7570 or toll-free at 877-593-4233 and we will send you a FREE copy of The North Carolina Auto Injury Book by R. Clarke Speaks.