An auto insurance industry information website says Indiana tops the list of states for the percentage of fatal car accidents involving road rage and aggressive driving.
The study, published by Auto Insurance Center, is based on recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). The NHTSA compiles information on fatal traffic accidents in which a driver, passenger or pedestrian is killed.
Road Rage Statistics
The study says that the U.S. averaged roughly one deadly accident related to road rage per day in a recent year, and Indiana had 77 fatal road rage incidents. That represented 10% of all fatal motor vehicle accidents in Indiana that year. Colorado is No. 2 on the list with 53 and 9.5%, followed by South Carolina (64, 6.8%) and Alabama (64, 6.8%) tied at No. 3 and then Connecticut (16, 5.7%).
Several Indiana law enforcement officials told the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne that the numbers in the study don’t truly capture the rate of road rage incidents in Indiana. Incidents of road rage violence that did not lead to crashes would not have been counted.
For example, Brandon Cook was charged with involuntary manslaughter but ultimately convicted of a lesser charge last year after an altercation with Orlando Fernandez, 60, on Fort Wayne’s northwest side. Both men had gotten out of their vehicles after Fernandez “brake checked” Cook, and Cook then punched Fernandez, police said. The coroner said Fernandez died from heart failure and ruled his death a homicide. Jurors found Cook guilty of battery but not guilty of manslaughter following five hours of deliberation.
Police called the incident road rage, but this widely covered fatal incident likely wouldn’t have been included in the Auto Insurance Center’s study because there was no crash.
What is Road Rage?
Road rage is usually defined as a violent response to aggressive driving.
NHTSA defines aggressive driving as occurring when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.”
List of factors cited as aggressive driving behavior that led to crashes (According to Insurance Information Institute )
- Following improperly
- Improper or erratic lane changes
- Illegal driving on the road shoulder, in the ditch, or on sidewalk or median
- Passing where prohibited
- Operating the vehicle in an erratic, reckless, careless, or negligent manner or suddenly changing speeds
- Failure to yield right of way
- Failure to obey traffic signs, traffic control devices, or traffic officers
- Failure to observe safety zone traffic laws
- Failure to observe warnings or instructions on a vehicle displaying them
- Failure to signal
- Driving too fast for conditions or in excess of the posted speed limit
- Making an improper turn.
Road rage is violent behavior directed at another person in traffic or behavior inciting violence, such as:
- Making rude hand gestures
- Honking the car’s horn
- Flashing headlights or improperly turning on high beams
- Cutting off another vehicle
- Brake-checking (or stopping short in front of another vehicle)
- Forcing a driver off the road
- Intentionally ramming or colliding with another vehicle
- Getting out of a vehicle to confront another driver or passenger
- Shooting a gun toward another vehicle.
The AAA Traffic Safety Foundation says its study found that nearly 80% of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the prior year. Approximately 8 million U.S. drivers engaged in extreme examples of road rage, including purposefully ramming another vehicle or getting out of the car to confront another driver.
How to Handle Road Rage in Indiana
Road rage is a two-way street. As drivers, we may experience road rage directed at us from another driver or may get upset with another driver. What is important is to avoid letting the emotions that lead to road rage violence escalate.
First, you should avoid inciting other drivers. Sometimes we engage in aggressive driving behaviors through lapses in judgment rather than through active aggression.
Some of the most common inciteful driving behaviors to avoid include:
Cutting someone off – Make sure you have plenty of room when you change lanes or merge into traffic, and always use your turn signal to show your intentions. Watch for others and slow down to let them in ahead of you.
Driving slowly in the left lane – The left lane is for passing or preparing for a left-hand turn. Keep an eye out for vehicles coming up behind you and move over. If you cannot move to the right-hand lane immediately or are turning left just ahead, signal your intention to move out of the left lane.
Tailgating – Drivers get angry when they are followed too closely because it is dangerous. Rear-end collisions are the most common car accidents. Allow at least two car lengths between your car and the car ahead. If someone exhibits aggressive, potentially violent behavior toward you, AAA says don’t respond to their anger by becoming angry and don’t engage them.
Steer clear – Slow down and let them get by. (That may be all they want.) Take the next turn or exit. But do not pull over and stop. That may look like an invitation to a physical confrontation.
Avoid eye contact – Locking eyes with an angry driver for even a second makes things personal, which can easily cause an escalation.
Get help – If you think violence is possible, drive to a public place such as a police station, hospital or fire station. If you park, leave room to not be blocked in. If you truly feel threatened, call 911.
Contact Craig Kelley & Faultless in Indianapolis
If you have been in a car accident, a truck accident or victimized in an assault related to road rage, contact the injury attorneys of Craig Kelley and Faultless in Indianapolis. Indiana civil law allows accident victims to seek compensation for injuries and losses caused by another person’s carelessness or misconduct, including road rage. We represent accident victims and never represent insurance companies. Our focus is on helping you if you or your loved one has been injured.
Contact us for a free case consultation today.