Charlotte, NC Law Firm
North Carolina Reckless Driving Speeding Ticket
Looking for a Charlotte Car Accident Lawyer Near You?
Call Today!
North Carolina Reckless Driving Speeding Ticket

Road Rage Accidents

Driving can be stressful. There are more and more cars on the road and people are often in a hurry, which leads to traffic congestion and frustration. Anyone who has ever been cut off by another driver, tailgated or yelled at, naturally feels annoyed. Anyone who managed to barely avoid getting into an accident has likely experienced momentary panic or fear, and an increase in heart rate. These are normal reactions to the stress involved with everyday driving.

What is not normal is a person acting aggressively or violently towards another driver because of a perceived slight or failure to drive a certain way. Road rage is a term used to describe people who drive aggressively or act violently. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines road rage as “a motorist’s uncontrolled anger that is usually provoked by another motorist’s irritating act and is expressed in aggressive or violent behavior.” The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) expands that definition stating that road rages involves a driver who “commits moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property; an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger of one motor vehicle on the operator or passengers of another motor vehicle.” 

The statistics involving road rage are alarming. They include:

  • Males, and teenagers in particular, are more likely to engage in road rage
  • Road rage accounts for 66% of all traffic fatalities
  • Approximately 30 people are killed per year in road rage incidents 

Examples of road rage include:

  • Verbal. Yelling curses, threats or insults at another driver.
  • Honking. Honking the horn aggressively and yelling at another driver while driving by.
  • Tailgating
  • Offensive gestures
  • Using high-beams to intimidate drivers who aren’t driving fast enough.
  • Aggressive actions. Examples include, speeding up and cutting someone off or braking, positioning a car so another driver cannot get by, forcing a driver off the road and bumping or hitting another car.
  • Shootings. The number of shootings involved in road rage incidents is on the rise .In the Charlotte, North Carolina area in the past two months alone, two serious road rage incidents occurred. The first incident happened on I-95 in Charlotte, when a man was shot and killed. The second occurred in a Charlotte suburb and involved a driver in one lane firing shots into a vehicle in the next lane in an apparent road rage incident. Fortunately that driver was not injured.

A number of behaviors can trigger road rage incidents, including:

  • Distracted driving. The constant use of cell phones has led to an increase in distracted driving. That in turn has led to an increase of road rage as drivers report being frustrated by distracted drivers who are driving too slowly, drifting or failing to properly obey traffic signals. 
  • Detours and construction
  • Traffic
  • Driving too slowly. While speeding has always been an issue, so is driving too slowly. Someone for example, going 25 mph in a 55 mph zone creates a hazard for those nearby.

 Road Rage and the Law

It is important to understand that aggressive or reckless driving alone (speeding, running red lights and stop signs, and not stopping pedestrians in a marked crosswalk) is a traffic violation and will be treated as such. In most cases, where no one is injured by the aggressive or reckless driving, the driver will be charged with a traffic violation and likely fined. If there is an injury, for example another car was hit and a driver or passenger injured when the aggressive or reckless driver failed to stop at a red light, then a personal injury claim will exist. 

In situations involving reckless, or aggressive road rage level behavior, criminal charges might apply. It is important to know the laws of the state in which you are driving. North Carolina law distinguishes aggressive driving from reckless driving, as follows:

  1. Reckless driving is defined by N.C. Gen. Stat. §20-140 as (a) “[a]ny person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others. . .”  and (b) any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property. . .” Reckless driving in North Carolina is a Class 2 misdemeanor, which means that the driver can be sentenced to a maximum of 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. 
  2. Aggressive driving is defined by N.C. Gen. Stat. §20-141.6 as driving at a greater speed then “is reasonable and prudent under the conditions then existing,” or speed[ing] in a school zone, and “driv[ing] carelessly and heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others.” Acting in willful or wanton disregard, required two of the following: running a red light or stop sign, passing illegally, not yielding to a right-of-way, and/or tailgating. Aggressive driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor, or a maximum of 120 days in a jail and a discretionary fine. 

Despite the classification of misdemeanor as set forth above, if a person or other driver is injured in a road rage accident, then, in addition, there will be a personal injury claim, the same as there would be in any other car accident or pedestrian accident. A road rage victim is entitled to the same damages as any victim of a car accident or pedestrian accident - economic (medical expenses, lost wages) and non-economic (pain and suffering). A road rage victim may, under certain circumstances, be able to recover punitive damages. 

Road rage accidents happen more often than people realize. The Charlotte, NC based lawyers at Rosensteel Fleishman Car Accident & Injury Lawyers are experienced car accident attorneys who can help you understand your rights and whether or not you have damages and should proceed with a claim. Please contact our office at 704-714-1450. There is no fee for an initial consultation. 

Additional Car Accident Personal Injury Articles

June 4, 2024
Fatal Police Chases Increased in NC and Nationwide, Despite Calls for Fewer Pursuits

According to local news sources, the number of fatal police chases in North Carolina and across the nation has been rising, despite numerous calls to reduce such pursuits. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals a troubling trend: deadly police pursuits in North Carolina escalated from nine in 2018 to 22 in […]

May 28, 2024
Summer Marks the Start of the Deadliest Season for Teen Drivers

The Auto Club Group in the Carolinas has issued a stark warning about "The 100 Deadliest Days" for teen drivers, which spans from Memorial Day through Labor Day. This period is known for a significant increase in fatal car crashes involving teenagers. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveal that nearly half of […]

May 23, 2024
North Carolina's New Auto Insurance Requirements: What Drivers Need to Know in 2025

Starting in 2025, North Carolina will implement the strictest minimum liability coverage requirements in the country. According to local news sources, this law change will allow victims of car crashes to collect significantly more money from at-fault parties. Understanding the Changes in North Carolina's Auto Insurance Requirements The bill, introduced by Republican state senators Todd […]

May 6, 2024
Finding the Best Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Near Me in Charlotte

Getting into a motorcycle accident can turn your life upside down in an instant. It's not just the initial shock and the rush of emotions that follow; it's also the daunting realization of what comes next. Whether you’re dealing with injuries, facing financial uncertainties, or just feeling overwhelmed by insurance claims and legal matters, knowing […]

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram