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The Consequences of Losing Your Temper in Traffic

The Law Office of Joel M. Bacher May 4, 2018

We understand that sharing the road with rude or inattentive drivers can be frustrating. A driver who cuts you off, follows you too closely or drifts into your lane could cause an accident and ruin your day. For you and other New Jersey residents who deal with these drivers every day, it can be tempting to retaliate and teach them a lesson. However, you need to know what can happen if you react angrily to another driver, even if it is in the heat of the moment and under normal circumstances, you would not have meant any harm.

The American Safety Council attributes 66 percent of car accident fatalities to some form of aggressive driving. Additionally, road rage has been deemed responsible for 12,610 injuries and 218 murders over a seven-year time frame. Yes, the law states that a traffic fatality caused by a snap judgment out of anger is murder.

You might be charged with a violent offense if you participated in any of the following behaviors that resulted in someone else being injured or killed:

  • Chasing another driver with the intent to run his or her vehicle off the road

  • Cornering the other driver so you can force him or her out of the car for a physical confrontation

  • Using a weapon, such as a knife, firearm or heavy object, to harm the other person

  • Following the other driver through traffic at high speeds

  • Chasing the other person to his or her home

  • Ramming the other vehicle with your car

How do you react if another driver is rude or insulting toward you? Rather than engaging in a conflict, it may be best to look away, take a deep breath and remind yourself to stay calm and focused. The alternative – potential criminal penalties – may be enough to dissuade you from participating in road rage.