How Road Rage and Reckless Driving Are Related

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. on March 22, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Almost everyone has experienced road rage, that disproportionate anger we feel about other people's driving. It's not that irritation is wrong but road rage is often excessive for the situation. And it endangers everyone.

Road rage can lead to reckless driving, and there is certainly conceptual overlap between the two terms, yet there are distinctions. Transportation safety agencies are extremely concerned about road rage, but generally speaking it has yet to become a technical offense in itself, although there are exceptions. Most often, road rage is a term used to describe a bunch of different behaviors that amount to aggressive driving.

Road Rage Defined

Road rage is a term used widely right now, sometimes called aggressive driving. Experiencing anger that translates into aggressive driving is not the same as being charged by police with a traffic violation, such as reckless driving. But the concepts are certainly intertwined.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has defined aggressive driving based on exchanges with law enforcement and the judiciary. According to the NHTSA, aggressive driving occurs when "an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property."

How such behavior is charged by law enforcement depends on state laws. Each state has its own traffic statutes and may define offenses differently. The name of the offense matters much less than the behavior it attempts to address. So let's look at reckless driving.

What Is Reckless Driving?

Most traffic tickets stem from infractions, and not crimes. But reckless driving, like driving under the influence, is a criminal charge stemming from traffic law. While the specifics of state statutes may vary, the same general behavior is being punished. Someone who drives recklessly shows a willful or wanton disregard for rules of the road and the safety of others - that is punishable.

What constitutes reckless driving may be a single dangerous move or a series of behaviors that combined amount to a disregard for the safety of others. Also, it's important not to get hung up on the terms necessarily. The point is that when you disobey the rules of the road and do so repeatedly, you are subject to a criminal charge. If you think people on the roads are annoying, wait until you have to deal with the court system! Better to keep your cool than risk being charged for a traffic offense.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you or someone you know have been charged with reckless driving, or any other traffic or criminal offense, speak to a lawyer. Many criminal defense attronesy consult for free or no fee and will be happy to discuss your case.

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