How Problematic Are Aggressive Drivers on Our Roads?

If you are an experienced motor vehicle operator, chances are you’ve encountered your share of aggressive drivers. People routinely accelerate through yellow and red traffic signals. Some people follow so closely that it’s hard to take one’s eyes off the rearview mirror. In some cases, other drivers become angry and flash obscene gestures as they race past. And it shouldn’t come as any surprise that these drivers greatly increase the danger of traffic accidents for all of us.

But how big is the problem? We’ll discuss that in this article, along with legal remedies designed to protect us all.

What Constitutes “Aggressive Driving?”

One comedian has joked that anyone who drives slower than he does is an “idiot,” while anyone driving faster than he does is “crazy.” The kernel of truth in the statement is that for many people, the concept of “aggressive driving” is subjective. Therefore, we’ll try and define a little more clearly what we’re discussing.

AAA defines aggressive driving as “any unsafe behavior, performed deliberately and with ill intention or disregard for safety.” In one report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines aggressive driving as “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.” Other organizations and entities use slightly different definitions, but they all tend to cite similar examples, some of which we will provide below. What they have in common is the intentional or reckless violation of traffic laws.

Some people use “aggressive driving” and “road rage” interchangeably. However, road rage is really just an extreme form of aggressive driving, and typically is the reaction of one driver towards another.

The following are some common examples of aggressive driving.

  • Following another vehicle too closely
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Taking action to impede another vehicle’s ability to pass
  • Driving at an excessive rate of speed
  • Intentionally stopping or decelerating more quickly than is necessary in front of another vehicle
  • Ignoring traffic signs and signals
  • Intentionally using bright headlights to affect another driver
  • Driving inappropriately in heavy traffic

The Dangers of Aggressive Driving

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that aggressive driving has negative consequences. Past AAA research found that in more than 50 percent of fatal accidents, one or more drivers demonstrated potentially aggressive actions. Certainly, one would also expect a similarly high level of non-fatal accidents to include acts of aggressive driving. Moreover, when road rage is involved, people fear for their safety from the acts of confrontational drivers.

Combating Aggressive Driving

State and local governments take a variety of actions which help to combat the dangers of aggressive driving. Certainly, drivers can be cited for traffic violations. In some instances, drivers can even be held criminally responsible. For example, depending on the circumstances, the following statutes could potentially apply in Oregon:

Civil Remedy for Persons Injured by Aggressive Driving

It’s not just criminal law that helps control aggressive driving – civil law plays an important role, as well. Regardless of whether a driver is held criminally liable, those who are injured as a result of the negligent or intentional actions of an aggressive driver have a civil remedy. By pursuing a personal injury action, injured victims can hold negligent and reckless drivers accountable and recover a variety of damages for both personal injury and property damage. Typical damages include medical bills, hospital bills, drug costs, ambulance expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages related to the accident. 

Call with Questions

If you’ve been injured due to the actions of an aggressive driver and have questions, please call us and we will be happy to answer them. Our experienced personal injury lawyers understand that the law is complicated. Whether you have questions about insurance, accident investigation, damages, liability, or your rights, we can get you on the right track. At Nelson MacNeil Rayfield, we believe that it is essential to hold wrongdoers responsible for their actions so that wrongful activities will be curbed, and all Oregonians will be safer.


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