For decades, researchers have noted an increase in road rage incidents during the summer. In Virginia, "road rage" - which goes by the name "aggressive driving" when classed as a crime - can carry serious penalties, including a jail sentence of up to six months and fines of up to $1,000.
Today, we're exploring why incidents of aggressive driving appear to increase over the summer in Virginia, as well as examining the criminal and social consequences of being charged with or convicted of road rage.
To schedule a consultation with our team and receive the representation you deserve for your criminal defense case, contact us online or via phone at (757) 267-4949.
Why Do Incidents of Road Rage Increase Over the Summer?
If you're thinking, "surely people aren't more likely to get angry while driving just because it's hotter outside," you probably wouldn't be the only one. However, statistics indicate that people are indeed more likely to exhibit aggression to other drivers during the hotter months of the year.
It's important to note that, even under normal circumstances, road rage is actually fairly common. According to research by BankRate, around 75% of American drivers admit to driving aggressively.
As to why people are more likely to display road rage in the summer months? There are several reasons.
Drivers Experience More Fatigue
Fatigue actually plays a big role in road rage incidents. The more tired or drowsy a driver is, the worse their reflexes tend to be. As a result, many drivers suffering from fatigue experience road rage from other drivers for failing to react to certain situations appropriately, such as accidentally cutting off other cars or failing to use a turn signal.
Fatigued individuals also typically have more trouble regulating their own emotions, meaning that fatigued drivers may be more likely to exhibit road rage themselves.
Road Are Packed
Most people choose to take vacations during the summer, meaning more drivers are on the road. Anyone who's been in a traffic jam knows that people often tend to get more heated (emotionally and physically) the longer they have to creep forward in traffic.
Exasperation over increased traffic isn't the only factor here, however. Heat also has adverse effects on cars, contributing to accelerated wear on tires and more problems with components overheating. This can result in aggressive driving and road rage when somebody suddenly has to stop their car and pull over, or is forced to drive more slowly thanks to mechanical issues.
The Kids Are Out of School
Many teens are excellent drivers. Unfortunately, some are not, and teens having access to the roads during the day when they may normally be in school could contribute to incidents of road rage. It also plays a role in the previous factor, namely how busy roads are.
Road Repairs Make Everything Take Longer
Summer is the most popular time of year for road construction. For a number of economic and logistical reasons, most road work happens in the summer months. That leads to increased driving times and delays, which only further contribute to driver fatigue and packed roads.
At this point, it's probably pretty clear - summer often creates the perfect storm for increased incidents of road rage.
Preventing Road Rage
As we mentioned at the start of this article, aggressive driving can carry some hefty legal penalties. Those consequences only increase further if someone is hurt due to another person's reckless driving.
Here are some things you can do to avoid road rage:
- Keep yourself hydrated. Drinking water will reduce the chances of the heat getting to you by lowering your body temperature.
- Keep snacks in the car. Foods such as granola bars can help you avoid blood sugar drops and fatigue.
- Increase airflow. If you can, keep air constantly circulating by keeping the air conditioner on, or your windows rolled down.
- Ignore raging drivers. If someone is exhibiting aggression toward you, try and maneuver away from them without making eye contact or letting them know you're aware. Motions of disapproval may make a raging driver even angrier and more dangerous. Try to get a safe distance away before reporting the offender to law enforcement.
At The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller, we help clients resolve complex family law and criminal defense cases. To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (757) 267-4949.