Recently there has been an increase of road rage and aggressive driving incidents on the highways in Orange County and throughout Southern California. Increased congestion, running late, and anger over distracted drivers are all “contributing factors to the most aggressive driving that we’ve seen on the increase,” according to James Ballidis, an Orange County accident lawyer. However, there is a fine line that transitions aggressive driving into road rage and as a result; this becomes a major risk factor for personal injury accidents.
Last month a driver was merging onto the 5 freeway in Santa Ana when the car in back of him became impatient. The driver that was following him rolled down his window and started firing a gun at him. “Luckily no one was injured in this injury incident” said Ballidis “but it is a grim reminder to be aware of your surroundings and be vigilant”, especially where rage is greater, on dangerous Orange County freeways.
The other road rage accident that happened in early June did not have such a fortunate outcome. California Highway Patrol officers arrested Victoria Cook with reckless driving and three felony counts of vehicular manslaughter for killing three innocent passengers on Highway 74 near Hemet, California.
Cook was reported to have been driving aggressively; making unsafe turns and maneuvering aggressively for her position on the road. This 24 year old now faces serious charges for her rage that killed three people in another vehicle.
In a recent road rage survey, Los Angeles metropolitan area ranked 7th in the U.S. for the most incidents of driver road rage. Statistics are vague as to the exact number of incidences, but as road rage risk factors such as cell phone use, eating and drinking and speeding increase, we will probably see more of these situations in our area.
If you are a regular driver on Orange County freeways, here are a few tips to avoid being a victim of road rage:
• Don’t allow yourself to get drawn into a fight; slow down and get out of the way of an aggressive driver. Usually they will move on.
• Stay focused on your driving. Avoid talking/texting on your cell phone, eating in your car, tailgating and excessively changing lanes. All of these behaviors can contribute to road rage situations.
• If you do cut someone off or make an abrupt maneuver, avoid eye contact with the other driver. If the other driver tries to start something, get out of his way. If you feel that the situation might escalate into something more dangerous, call 9-1-1 immediately for help.
• If you can safely report an aggressive driver to authorities, try to get the license number, direction of travel, and vehicle description.
In California the Aggressive Driving Laws are quite clear. Using your car in an aggressive way that commits a crime is considered a criminal assault and you can be penalized with a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 4 years in jail.