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Road Rage and Aggressive Drivers

Colburn Law

In Washington, drivers face many risks on the road: inclement weather conditions, debris, animals, and even other drivers. Aggressive driving behaviors, like tailgating or lane blocking, can easily escalate a traffic situation and harm other people on the road.

To protect yourself from road rage, there are two important topics to be aware of: how to recognize aggressive driving, and what to do if you encounter them on the road. Here is what you need to know about road rage and aggressive drivers in Washington state.

What Causes Road Rage?

What Causes Road Rage?

Defined as a driver’s violent or uncontrollable anger, road rage can lead to serious and sometimes fatal car accidents. Road rage can be triggered by aggressive driving behaviors, such as the following:

  • Driving over the posted speed limit
  • Intentionally cutting other drivers off
  • Erratically weaving in and out of traffic
  • Blocking another driver’s lane change
  • Brake checking, or braking without warning
  • Tailgating, or driving too close to another vehicle
  • Making hostile or offensive gestures to another driver
  • Failing to use signal lights when changing lanes or turning

Aggressive driving can cause stressful, anger-inducing situations that spark a road rage incident. According to the American Psychological Association, certain factors can make more people prone to road rage. 

For example, crowded roads can lead to significant frustration and increased anger behind the wheel. People who are drunk or high are at a higher risk of experiencing road rage. If a driver is experiencing stress at home or work, he or she may be more likely to lash out at other people in the area. 

What to Do If You Encounter an Aggressive Driver

Because road rage and aggressive driving are relatively common phenomena, you are very likely to encounter an angry driver on Washington roads. When this happens, it is important to take the following steps to avoid or deescalate the situation:

  • Allow the Other Driver to Pass: Aggressive drivers want to get to their destinations quickly, so the best way to de-escalate a road rage incident is to move out of the way. Allow the other driver to pass and do not attempt to chase or follow him or her.
  • Do Not Make Eye Contact with the Driver: If the aggressive driver won’t pass, do not look at him or her. Eye contact could escalate the situation and lead to conflict. Instead, try to ignore the driver and focus on the road.
  • Contact the Police: If the driver continues to harass you or you are scared for your safety or the safety of others, call 911 immediately. Try to remember as much identifying information about the driver as possible, such as the vehicle’s make, model, and color, the license plate number, and your location.
  • Find a Safe, Public Place to Stop: Never drive to your home when you encounter a road rage driver. Instead, drive to a busy public place or a police station. Do not leave your vehicle and keep your doors locked and windows up.

Pursuing Justice After an Accident with an Aggressive Driver

Aggressive drivers can ram into you, invade your space, and lead to serious injuries. If you were involved in an accident with an aggressive driver, you have the right to file a lawsuit or insurance claim and recover compensation for your injuries. As soon as possible following your collision, contact a Washington car accident lawyer to discuss your next steps.