The term “Road Rage” originated during the years 1987 and 1988, when a local television station reported on the rash of freeway shootings occurring on Interstates 10, 110 and 405 in Los Angeles.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, road rage is defined as “an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or an assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway.” Road rage requires willful and wanton disregard for the safety of others.
Road rage is a criminal offense. Aggressive driving is a traffic offense and is defined by the NHTSA as a progression of unlawful driving actions, such as:
- Speeding – exceeding the posted limit or driving too fast for conditions
- Improper or excessive lane changing – failing to signal intent, failing to see that movement can be made safely
- Improper passing – failing to signal intent, using an emergency lane to pass, or passing on the shoulder
The NHTA states that an aggressive driver fails to consider the human element involved. The anonymity of being behind the wheel gives aggressive drivers a false sense of control and power; therefore, they seldom take into account the consequences of their actions.
According to the NHTSA, 66 percent of all annual traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive driving actions, such as passing on the right, running red lights and tailgating.
Surveys report that 90 percent of drivers view aggressive driving as a very serious or somewhat serious threat to their own safety.
Reports indicate that there has been a 51 percent increase in aggressive driving incidents since 1990. Of these incidents, 37 percent involved the use of a firearm, 28 percent involved other weapons, and 35 percent involved the use of a car as a weapon.
Aggressive driving symptoms are defined as condemning or thoughts of violence toward other drivers. Aggressive driving includes:
- Verbally expressing condemnation of other drivers to passengers in your vehicle
- Not obeying traffic safety rules, because you don’t agree with them
- Following to close
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Cutting between vehicles to change lanes
- Using the horn excessively
- Braking to get others to back off your bumper
- Passing another driver, then slowing to “teach them a lesson”
The Army selected RoadRageous training as part of its current Army Traffic Safety Training Program. RoadRageous is an eight-hour classroom course addressing the root cause of aggressive driving and is produced by the American Institute for Public Safety. The course was designed by psychologists to change behavior behind the wheel and to better protect drivers from the poor driving behavior of other drivers on the road. Leaders should refer high risk individuals to remedial drivers training to the extent possible, as provided in Army Regulation 385-10.
Individual driving behaviors and decisions made by aggressive drivers can lead to loss of life and life-threatening injuries to your friends, family and children. The NHTSA offers the following tips for defusing these situations:
- Make every attempt to safely move out of the aggressive driver’s way
- Do not challenge an aggressive driver by speeding up or attempting to “hold your own”
- Always wear your seat belt. It will hold you in your seat and behind the steering wheel in case you need to make an abrupt driving maneuver and protect you in a crash
- Avoid eye contact with the aggressive driver
- Ignore gestures and refuse to make your own gestures
- Report aggressive drivers to the appropriate authorities by providing a vehicle description, license plate number, location, and if possible, direction of travel
- If you have a mobile phone and can use it safely while driving, call 911 or the Fort Irwin Police Station at 380-2707.