It seems like every time you turn on the news, there is another incident of aggressive driving or so-called “road rage” in North Texas. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 9 out of 10 drivers believe aggressive driving is a threat to their personal safety. Additionally, 8 million drivers have reported getting out of their car to confront another driver or bumped another car on purpose. While there is no law in Texas that uses the term “road rage,” many of the acts associated with road rage can result in criminal charges.
Road Rage was a term originally coined by the media in Los Angeles in the 1990’s due to a string of shootings that occurred on their highways. It is part of the spectrum that is aggressive driving. Aggressive driving is defined by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHSTA) as “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that is likely to endanger persons or property.” It often stems from the emotional distress aggressive driving causes, and results in behavior that is dangerous to yourself and others on the road.
As mentioned, there is no specific offense that mentions “road rage” in Texas. However, some charges that can stem from road rage include reckless driving, criminal mischief, aggravated assault, discharging a firearm, deadly conduct and even murder. As with most incidents, charges and punishment ranges are dependent on the severity of the action and incident. Reckless driving, for example, is a misdemeanor, while murder would be a first-degree felony punishable by up to life in prison.
Texas is rife with road rage incidents, and they come in many forms. Here are some examples and their outcomes.
Practicing safe driving habits is the key to avoiding incidents of road rage. This includes not driving when you are tired or distracted, not using obscene hand gestures, and leaving enough space between you and other drivers. Try to be wary of others behavior and avoid aggressive drivers. Aggressive behaviors are often a result of your attitude and emotional state. Put on relaxing music, practice patience, remember that you are sharing the road and try to put yourself in other driver’s shoes. Remember the Golden Rule and treat others how you would like to be treated.
If you find yourself on the receiving end of road rage, do not retaliate. Get out of their way, give them space to pass you or take an alternate route to your destination. Call the police if you believe you are in immediate danger, or if the driver is a danger to all the cars around you. It is best to not engage and be the bigger person, and ensure that you and your passengers reach your destination safely. For the latest data from government and research sources, check out this 2021 Road Rage Statistics and Facts guide.
If you or a loved one is facing charges stemming from a Texas road rage incident, you need a skilled attorney by your side. Our team of former prosecutors and Board Certified Criminal Law Specialists are here to help.
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