In the 1980s, a new fear arose on the nation's highways. Instead of just worrying about "accidents," people worried about the threat of violence from their fellow drivers. "Road rage" became a widely-used term; a simple phrase carried a fear that spread from Los Angeles (where the phrase was coined) to the East Coast. While we don't hear the phrase as often these days, road rage, along with its closely-related cousin "aggressive driving," remains a very real problem. If you have been injured as a result of another driver's inappropriate, dangerous behavior, our Panama City road rage attorney can help.
The danger of road rage became all too clear for some local travelers on Sunday, as reported by WJHG. According to the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office, Thomas Biddle's wife was driving north on State Road 85 at approximately 5 P.M. with 29-year-old Thomas in the passenger seat. After attempting to pass a black sedan at a high speed, the couple pulled alongside the sedan and Biddle began yelling at the other driver. Biddle threw a water bottle out of the passenger-side window, apparently aiming for the sedan's driver. The bottle missed the sedan, instead hitting the chest of a motorcyclist who was driving behind the sedan and travelling about 70 mph.
Although the article does not indicate what happened next, deputies say that Thomas Biddle's actions created a dangerous situation that could have caused great bodily harm or even killed the motorcycle rider. The Crestview resident now faces felony charges, including throwing a missile into a vehicle, aircraft, or dwelling.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles defines road rage as "violent or visibly angry behavior by a driver of a motor vehicle which can result in crashes or other incidents on roadways" and calls it an extreme form of aggressive driving. Similarly, The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety defines aggressive driving as an unsafe, deliberate driving behavior performed with a disregard for safety or an ill intention. A Foundation study concluded that potentially-aggressive behavior, including things like tailgating, illegal passing, and erratic lane changing, play a role in up to 56% of deadly traffic collisions. As for cases of true road rage, the Foundation looked at 10,000 road rage incidents over a 7-year period and found they resulted in a minimum of 218 deaths at 12,610 injuries.
If you are travelling and spot another driver who is becoming aggressive, the best response is to get out of the way. If the aggressor follows you, drive to a well-populated area or even to the local police station. While it is often tempting to fight back, even in the form of a few choice words or hand gestures, you never know how far the other driver will take the dispute.
Of course, while we recommend avoidance, we also believe it is important to avoid blaming the victim. If another driver's road rage or aggressive driving left you or a loved one injured, call our Northwest Florida road rage lawyer. Road rage can have catastrophic, life-altering, or even life-ending consequences. Civil courts can provide monetary compensation that includes money for financial losses as well as emotional suffering. In extreme cases, civil courts may also award punitive damages, which are intended to punish the offender and send a message to the offender and the community that road rage will not be tolerated.