If you drive routinely on the freeways here in Orange County or in fact throughout California, you might have noticed an increase in aggressive driving. Increased congestion, running late, and anger are all contributing factors to the most aggressive driving that we’ve seen on the increase. The big problem is at what point does aggressive driving turn to road rage and thus become a risk factor for personal injury accidents, or in some cases, homicide.
Los Angeles is a major metropolitan center that now has the honor of “worst congestion in the US”, according to the American Automobile Association. Unfortunately it is also the 4th highest city for road rage incidences. Number 5 is Burbank, California, so Californians have a lot of issues to deal with. Do you think there is any connection there?
California alone has around 45,000 automobile accidents per year and of those accidents, 35,000 result in some type of personal injury to the occupants of the car. The 5th leading cause of auto-related fatalities, right behind speeding, alcohol, drowsiness and distraction is aggressive driving. It is a major problem within our state and is only increasing over time.
Only yesterday the Los Angeles Times reported that a man was shot on the 110 freeway as the result of a road rage incident. These reports have become so frequent that sometimes we are not fazed anymore. But what drives a person to react this way? A recent study asked drivers what makes them drive more aggressively and/or gets them angry and the main reasons were : getting cut off by another driver, drivers not allowed to merge in on a freeway, close tailgating, driving too slow in the left lane and finally, obscene gestures targeted towards them. After a busy day, yes you certainly don’t want to deal with this, but it’s important to contain your composure and not react back.
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.
This issue does not affect just cars against cars either. More cases of cars vs. pedestrian and bicyclists are becoming more common as well. Just last week a doctor pleaded not guilty in a road rage case where he yelled at two cyclists before cutting them off and then hit his brakes hard. One of the riders slammed into the rear window of the car and is now recovering. The driver is being charged with reckless driving, battery with serious bodily injury and special allegations of causing great bodily injury. Don’t let your anger get the best of you because these charges are quite serious and are just not worth losing your freedom over.