The Difference Between Aggressive Driving and Road Rage

road rage aggressive driving

It’s crucial for drivers in California to be aware of the risks and consequences of aggressive driving. Aggressive driving is defined as operating a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers other persons or property. If you were involved in an aggressive driving or road rage incident caused by another party, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced car accident attorney who will protect your rights and help you hold the aggressive driver accountable for your injuries and losses. Read on to learn about the differences and similarities between aggressive driving and road rage.


The Difference Between Aggressive Driving and Road Rage 

What is the difference between aggressive driving and road rage? Understanding the nuances between aggressive driving and road rage is crucial for promoting road safety and preventing potential auto accidents.

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving involves a disregard for the safety of oneself and other road users. According to data collected by AAA in 2019, about 80% of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression, or road rage at least once in the previous 30 days. About 66% of traffic fatalities are caused by aggressive drivers. Aggressive driving can include an individual commuting a combination of moving traffic offenses. Some common aggressive driving behaviors include:

  • Tailgating or following too closely
  • Brake checking
  • Making sudden lane changes
  • Speeding
  • Weaving through traffic
  • Cutting off other drivers
  • Running red lights or stop signs
  • Failure to yield
  • Lane blocking
  • Horn overuse
  • Flashing your bright headlights at other drivers
  • Illegally passing other vehicles

California Vehicle Code 23103: Reckless Driving Laws

People convicted of aggressive driving may receive the following penalties:

  • Imprisonment in a county jail between 5 and 90 days.
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • Points on your driver’s license
  • Driver education programs

In addition, insurance companies consider aggressive driving behavior as an increased risk. Therefore, drivers with aggressive driving convictions may see a significant rise in their premiums.

Road Rage

More severe cases of aggressive driving can lead to road rage which involves violent intent toward another road user. Road rage incidents can escalate quickly, leading to dangerous confrontations between drivers. Some common behaviors of road rage include:

  • Verbal altercations
  • Escalating conflicts to involve physical violence
  • Deliberately causing accidents out of anger
  • Sideswiping
  • Throwing items
  • Forcing another driver off the road
  • Making obscene gestures or threatening other drivers

California Vehicle Code 13210: Suspension of License for Road Rage

Road rage, being a more severe form of aggressive driving, carries even harsher penalties in California, especially if the driver commits a criminal offense. Penalties for road rage may include:

  • California Vehicle Code 13210 allows authorities to suspend a driver’s license if they are found guilty of engaging in road rage.
  • Following a road rage conviction, a person’s driver’s license can be suspended for up to 6 months (for a first offense) and up to 1 year (for a second or subsequent offense).
  • Courts may require individuals involved in road rage incidents to undergo anger management or counseling programs.
  • Victims of road rage incidents may pursue civil lawsuits against the aggressor for damages.

Common Factors Associated with Aggressive Driving and Road Rage

speed limit sign

Common contributing factors to aggressive driving behavior can include the following:

Traffic congestion: Heavy traffic can lead to frustration and impatience, contributing to aggressive behavior.

Running late: The effects of busy schedules often weigh on people because they may feel they have too much to do and too little time in the day. Some motorists drive more aggressively if they are running late for school, work, or an appointment.

Anonymity: The perceived anonymity of being inside a vehicle can embolden drivers to behave more aggressively. Additionally, drivers may have tinted windows that make it difficult for others to see them.

Personal stress: External stressors in a driver’s life can spill over into their behavior on the road.

Disregard for traffic laws: When drivers violate traffic rules it significantly increases the likelihood of serious car accidents.


Tips for Addressing Aggressive Drivers

Dealing with aggressive drivers requires a calm and measured approach to avoid escalating situations. Implementing these tips can help drivers navigate challenging scenarios and reduce the risk of motor vehicle accidents.

Tips for addressing aggressive drivers:

  • Stay calm: The angry driver may simply be having a bad day. Avoid responding with aggression; instead, remain calm and focused on your driving.
  • Don’t engage: Refrain from escalating conflicts by avoiding responding to obscene gestures. Avoid yelling or making rude gestures at the other driver.
  • Report aggressive driving incidents: If you feel threatened by a road rage driver, call law enforcement and report the aggressive driving. Provide details such as the license plate number and vehicle description.
  • Create distance: If you see another motorist engaging in unsafe driving behaviors, maintain a safe following distance to reduce the likelihood of a confrontation.

Compensation Available in Reckless Driving and Road Rage Cases

car accidents

Victims of reckless driving and road rage incidents may be entitled to compensation for damages and injuries suffered. Seeking legal advice and understanding the available avenues for compensation is crucial for victims seeking justice.

  • Medical expenses: Reimbursement for medical bills resulting from injuries sustained in an accident.
  • Property damage: Compensation for damage to the victim’s vehicle or other property.
  • Emotional distress: Damages for the emotional trauma experienced due to the incident.
  • Lost wages: Compensation for income lost as a result of injuries preventing the victim from working.
  • Wrongful death: Surviving family members may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensation for damages including funeral and burial expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.


We’re Advocates for Victims of Aggressive Driving and Road Rage

In the aftermath of a car accident, having the support of a skilled attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. An experienced attorney will guide you throughout the claims process and ensure that your legal rights are protected.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident or hit-and-run, as a result of aggressive driving or road rage, seeking legal representation is crucial. At Golden State Accident Lawyers we are committed to helping personal injury victims recover fair compensation for their injuries and losses. Call our San Francisco personal injury law firm today to schedule a free consultation.

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