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Holiday Driving Can Lead to Road Rage Encounters

December 27, 2012

Television advertisements are full of heartwarming images of kindness during the holiday season. While the holidays do encourage courtesy and charity for many, they can also be a source of anxiety and stress for others.

When dense holiday traffic is combined with these feelings of discord, road rage can erupt and cause severe injury or fatalities. Incidents of road rage can cause motor vehicle accidents and even acts of violence like fatal shootings. While aggressive drivers can be annoying, the decision to respond with further hostility can turn a tense unpleasant exchange into a potentially deadly road rage tragedy.

While escalating encounters with aggressive drivers increases the potential for road rage, a national survey conducted by Response Insurance found that half of all motorists that confront aggressive drivers engage in conduct calculated to escalate the confrontation. Responses to acts of aggressive driving include honking the horn incessantly, shouting at the offending motorists and even trying to run the other driver off the road.

Many people use the terms aggressive driving and road rage interchangeably, but they denote very different types of behavior. While aggressive drivers may combine multiple forms of unsafe driving or moving violations, such as speeding, weaving unsafely through traffic and tailgating, there is no intent to cause injuries to others. Aggressive driving is more akin to extremely reckless driving. This form of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle may exhibit a conscious disregard for the safety of others that provides a basis for awarding punitive as well as compensatory damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

Road rage involves intentionally causing injury to others, which may take the form of using one's vehicle as a weapon, discharging a firearm toward another vehicle or otherwise engaging in intentional acts aimed at causing injuries to others on the road. When motorists engage in intentional acts of violence toward other motorists that cause severe injury, this type of conduct is especially likely to meet the legal standard justifying punitive damages, which are designed to discourage and punish such conduct.

If you are accosted by an aggressive driver, the worst course of action is to antagonize the driver because it may turn an inconsiderate motorist into a violent one. Many traffic safety experts advise that motorists take the following steps to avoid dangerous confrontations with other drivers:

• Avoid the desire to retaliate and "teach the other driver a lesson"

• Allow enough time to get to your destination so that you are less tempted to tailgate or speed

• Keep a safe distance and/or let an aggressive driver pass

• Do not make eye contact with the other driver

• Try not to speed up or slam on your brakes just to antagonize an aggressive driver

• Avoid flashing your lights or laying on the horn to express your displeasure

While it can be hard to "turn the other cheek" when other drivers act rude or aggressive, it is never a good idea to antagonize drivers who are already operating their vehicle unsafely. Montlick and Associates is available to provide effective legal representation to clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our Georgia personal injury attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.