Road Rage Increasing Role on Our Local Roadways

Avoiding Aggressive Driving

Car crashes happen too frequently. Climbing into a motor vehicle is one of the riskiest things we do daily.  Thus, it would that seem focusing on the roadway and keeping a look out for other traffic is a big enough concern. A recent trend over the last few years is making road safety more difficult.  The number of road rage incidents are increasing in the metro area and across the country.   “Aggressive driving” is not always road rage; however, road rage can be a result of aggressive driving. As if road rage incidents are not horrifying enough, we are seeing an increase in gun violence in road rage incidents across the U.S.    Often, when we think of road rage, we think of an outlandish incident on a California freeway. Alas, these incidents are happening across the country.

The greater St. Louis area has had more than one road rage incident involving firearms in the last few years resulting in serious injury and death. Even if you have not experienced any kind of road rage incident,  you probably have not been spared an aggressive driving incident.

Currently, we have drivers doing so many things other than focusing on the roadway, adding firearms is ridiculous.  No one wants to set out on their daily commute to be involved in a survival safety obstacle course. Maybe that sounds dramatic, but if you are involved in said incident, it can be life changing.   Some drivers already mistakenly think they can eat, apply make-up,  text, engage in group phone chats,  live stream, and post to social media.  All of these distracted driving behaviors lead to crashes.  As attorneys that represent seriously injured folks daily, we see the lives changed due to inattention, let alone acts of gun violence on the roadway.

Safe driving requires your attention (brain) and both hands.

Aggressive Driving

If you’ve driven in the greater St. Louis area, you have encountered an aggressive driver and know how easily a road rage incident can happen.  We know because one; we drive in St. Louis, and two; every day we speak with people involved in motor vehicle crashes.  Many car crash victims have expressed that they were initially unsure just how to respond after a crash because they could not assume the other driver would not flee or not be belligerent.   A car crash is quite traumatic and when you have the additional worry of a belligerent or fleeing party, it makes the situation even more difficult.   Heavy, stop and go traffic makes everyone cranky. And, everyone is ticked after a collision.  Throwing a fit and acting badly does not improve the situation a bit.

Aggressive driving involves behaviors such as tailgating, cutting someone off, running red lights, changing lanes without a signal,  and weaving in and out of traffic.  Those driving behaviors are offensive because they endanger everyone.  In addition to being dangerous, these driver behaviors may trigger another driver.   Previous AAA surveys found that 78% of drivers in the U.S. admit to  having significant anger.  Again, that may not be a surprising statistic to many of us but it is no less distressing to hear.

In a January NPR article, A St Louis clinical psychologist recently described the unique situation of being in your car while experiencing anger, “In cars there’s a sense of immunity from the norms of polite society. Not only that, there’s objectification of others. So we see others as just a bobblehead behind the steering wheel, as opposed to someone’s mother or somebody’s son”.  There are things that you may yell or gestures that you make because you are in a vehicle that you would never say if you were in a elevator with that person.  The psychologist said that a good place to start in curbing road rage is to stop taking other driver’s behaviors personally.

Experiencing aggressive driving on the road is not uncommon, roughly eight in 10 driver surveyed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported having at least one incident in the month prior to the survey.    It is one thing to be frustrated when another driver cuts you off or veers into your lane, but losing your composure over the incident can turn an unpleasant incident into a tragedy.

Firearm Use on the Roadways

Everytown Research & Policy found that the number of road rage firearm deaths has increased every year since 2018.  In 2018, there were 70 road rage shooting deaths in the U.S. and in 2022, that number had doubled to 141 gun deaths.  Furthermore, they found that no region of the country is immune to this violence.  Thus, it is happening everywhere in spite of your opinions or politics. The data has found that states with weaker gun laws on average see the highest rates of road rage shootings. Likewise, states with stronger gun laws have seen the lower rates for road rage shootings.  States that did not require a permit had nearly triple the rate of road rage shootings.

While some seem to feel safer having a gun on board, maybe having immediate access to said gun is not a great idea.  Those that carry should secure their firearm in a secure location such as the glove box or in the console–again, securely. However, mechanics interviewed for the below NPR story reported that often people drop off their cars for repairs forgetting the firearm is holstered in the door.

Feeling immune and angry in the car while driving with an easily accessible firearm seems more like a recipe for disaster rather than safety.

NPR- All Things Considered completed an article in January 2024 which was not long after a road rage incident involving gunfire on Interstate 44 in St. Louis County.  Neither driver suffered gunfire injuries. In November,  however, a man was killed during a morning commute involving road rage gun fire incident.  While we are not using name to add to anyone’s suffering,  the probable cause statement listed that the “victim flicked a cigarette during a verbal exchange outside the vehicles”.  It is hard for anyone viewing that news story to think of this as anything other than a tragic mistake. In a matter of a few seconds, there were life changing tragic consequences for several families.

Without sounding too much like magical thinking, is it too much to consider that we all need to calm down and quit taking ourselves quite so seriously?  Don’t each of us have all we can do to manage our lives, focus on the roadway and get to our destination without worrying if another driver will pull a firearm?  Each of us holds the solution to the problem.  We all get in a motor vehicle in order to get to a destination, not go to war with a stranger.  We never know what another person is going through psychologically.  We must assume we are all having a bad day on the roadway and try a little empathy.

Again, in heavy traffic, we often are not in our best moods.  However, if we are to keep our roads and highways safe, we are going to have to think a little beyond just ourselves.

Car Accidents

Car accidents are the number one cause of death and  serious injuries to all age groups. Thus, we are not sure why anyone would want to add gunfire to already sometimes treacherous roadway.  Our firm represents those seriously injured or worse, we represent the family of those fatally injured.  Simply, when one of our clients has sustained life-changing injuries, it is beyond difficult.  When you’ve been injured by another driver’s negligence, it is still very hard not be angry at that individuals for their mistake thought not intentional.  When a harm is intentional, it is really a different reality.

STL Drivers-Drive Safe and Alert

Motor vehicle incidents are a big enough issue, let alone criminal action. We can reduce our motor vehicle crashes by half if we simply pay attention, buckle up and follow the rules of the roadway.  It would also help to bring your patience and a little empathy for others while on the roadway.   We can have no idea what other people are going through or how close they are to a figurative or literal trigger.   At our office, we have had conversations about rethinking our attitude on the roadway.  It is so easy to fly off the handle and deliver a cursing to a bad driver or flip them off, but what does it really accomplish?

Avoiding aggressive and reckless drivers has been even more on my mind the last few months as a teen in my home is learning to drive.  As we approach every intersection, we evaluate the cars approaching the intersection and pose some mental questions. Are they coming to a rolling stop? Do they look like they are paying any attention?  Are the cars behind you traveling in a uniform way or is there a car that is weaving in and out trying to get ahead of other drivers? When we see someone is weaving in and out of traffic, speeding and/or running lights, it is not a matter of whether or not they will be in a crash, it is a matter of when.   You can be a defensive driver, but ultimately you operate on the roadway with 1000’s of other people. Our driving choices impact others.

Being able to trust others on the roadway is really part of our social agreement.   We make an agreement that we will follow the rules of road and have a driver’s license proving we meet the requirements of understanding the law of the roadway.  We share the roadway and do not have an “absolute right” to drive, rather it is a privilege. Most often in traffic, we are in situations daily where we have to trust that the other drivers will follow the rules of the road, obey the speed limit and not to slam into our vehicle. No doubt, when drivers engage in aggressive driving or road rage, it is not just a violation against one driver but our community safety as well.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle collision and are hurt, you will need legal assistance.  Hopefully, the medical treatment that you require will not be extensive, however, it can be hard to know the full extent for some time.  Good motor vehicle accident attorneys offer free consultations, so it is free to get advice on how to begin talking to an insurance adjuster.  There are several things that you should absolutely avoid in the first few days after a crash and there are common mistakes that can make financial recovery really difficult. You have questions and we have answers. Call us seven days a week.

Call us toll free 1.800.685.3302 or locally 314.276.1681




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The Cagle Law Firm serves accident and injury clients throughout St. Louis and the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, including the eastern Missouri and southern Illinois communities. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance with your personal injury case, call The Cagle Law Firm at (314) 276-1681 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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