On Aug. 5, a man in his 50s who came to Las Vegas to celebrate his birthday was shot and killed by another driver, who had aggressively tailgated him and his passenger before taking the shots. While no arrests have been made yet, Las Vegas police believe that road rage may have caused the fatal shooting. This fatality occurred in the midst of the 100 deadliest days, which is the time of year where the largest number of traffic fatalities occur.
While there are certainly several circumstantial factors that contribute to each individual incident, psychological research has long indicated that as summer temperatures rise, so do people’s tempers. As a result, hot weather tends to bring an increase in violent, aggressive driving behavior.
On top of that, Nevada drivers already rank among the most aggressive compared to drivers in other states. In a 2018 GasBuddy Study, Nevada ranked at number 11 for aggressive driving behaviors such as speeding, rapid acceleration and braking, and laying on the horn. In 2019, GasBuddy released another study that ranked Las Vegas in the top 10 for cities with the highest frequency of aggressive driving events.
So, with the 100 deadliest days already having risky factors such as more teen drivers on the roads, big travel holidays like the 4th of July, rising temperatures, and Nevada drivers’ tendency to drive aggressively, it makes sense that road rage situations are escalating. At the same time, every road rage incident is preventable and they should never escalate to the point where a senseless loss of life results.
What Can You Do to Avoid Road Rage Incidents?
Driving is already stressful, and situations like running late for an important meeting or getting stuck in a traffic jam make many individuals on edge. To have someone drive aggressively while already upset brings up natural feelings of anger and aggression in people. This does not, however, mean that you should act on that frustration. Road rage incidents escalate very quickly and it is never worth engaging with an aggressive driver (or becoming one yourself). Here are a few tips to remember when it comes to avoiding road rage:
When You Feel Yourself Becoming Angry
- Give others the benefit of the doubt. They may not have cut you off on purpose. Most people are simply trying to get to their destination safely, just like you.
- Do not tailgate. If a driver is going slowly, they may simply be confused or lost. It is better to safely pass them than aggressively tailgate to try to get them to speed up.
- Stop laying on your horn. If there is an actual hazard that needs to be brought to someone’s attention, beep. But if you are simply frustrated that someone isn’t driving the way you would, resist the urge to lay on the horn for an extended period of time.
- Do not confront other drivers. More specifically, never stop and exit your vehicle to confront another driver personally. This is the perfect environment for a violent, dangerous situation to emerge.
When Another Driver is Angry at You
- Change lanes safely, slow down, or exit to keep a distance from an aggressive driver.
- Do not reciprocate their anger. It can be very tempting to lash out at another other driver, especially if you feel that they are in the wrong, but escalations can cause dangerous confrontations to occur.
- Do not make eye contact.
- Do not stop or get out of the car to confront them.
- Get the police involved if you feel unsafe. If you are genuinely fearful for your safety, or see that the other driving won’t stop following you, consider calling the police or driving to the nearest police station with your car doors locked.
Steve is the Managing Shareholder of Steven J. Klearman & Associates, a civil litigation law firm located in Reno, Nevada. He practices primarily in the areas of civil litigation and injury law, and has authored one of the definitive guides to Nevada civil law that is widely used by Nevada judges and attorneys, his book entitled Elements of Nevada Legal Theories.