Most drivers in the United States understand the term “road rage.” Although we all react differently, we have all been in the car and felt anger about another driver’s conduct.
Unfortunately, far too often the mistakes of other drivers create major problems on the Illinois roadways. In 2012, the Illinois Department of Transportation reported 77,370 car accidents within the city of Chicago alone. These accidents resulted in 145 deaths of Illinois motorists and 20,433 injured drivers and passengers. A better understanding of what road rage is, how it can happen, and how to avoid it may help more Illinois drivers reach their destinations safely.
What is Road Rage?
This often used term was first brought to fruition in 1987 by a news station in Los Angeles as a result of several shootings on L.A. highways. The term encompasses most behaviors on our roadways that express anger, including gestures, overly aggressive driving, shouting, and throwing objects at another driver. According to AAA, road rage can be attributed to over 1,200 incidents per year. This is not to be confused with the term “defensive driving,” which is used to describe alert, focused, and attentive driving habits.
Why is Road Rage a Problem?
The major problem with road rage is that this rash behavior endangers Illinois commuters. Aside from just physical danger, many U.S. states have adopted laws that allow for prosecution of drivers who become too aggressive. In Illinois, criminal charges for road rage are labeled “reckless driving” charges. An officer is at liberty to arrest the driver, which generally means the driver’s car will be towed away. This also means the driver will be need to pay for the towing bill.
Finally, the driver will have to see a judge. It is uncommon for judges to be lenient on drivers charged with recklessness because the nature of the offense involves placing others in harm’s way. Illinois allows a judge to impose a fine of up to $2,500 and sentence the driver to jail for up to one year. Reckless driving is a class A misdemeanor, which will land on the driver’s permanent criminal record. This charge can prevent the state from expunging or sealing other arrests on that party’s criminal record. Even assuming that no collision results from an incident of road rage, a driver can still find him- or herself in legal danger.
How to Avoid the Rage
Given the consequences for reckless driving, it is in everyone’s best interest to remain courteous and safe behind the wheel. A few moments of level-headed behavior will save you countless hours of frustration later on. Never attempt to compete with another driver for speed or lane position and always attempt to get away from overly aggressive drivers. Remember that the roads belong to everyone and there is no prize for making a statement in the middle of your commute.