Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.
Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.

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Elkhorn, WI

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How to handle a driver experiencing road rage

Drivers have dozens of small interactions every day with others in traffic. Usually, these interactions are short and unemotional. They make eye contact and nod at one another across an intersection with a four-way stop. They gesture to each other when turning and merging as a means of communicating. Most of the time, people quickly forget such interactions and move on with their day.

However, there are sometimes especially unpleasant interactions between drivers on Wisconsin roads that can stick with people. For example, one driver may become aggressive or even threatening toward someone else in traffic. Road rage incidents can lead to collisions or even assaults. One driver might try to run someone else off the road or follow them to their destination to start a fight. How should a motorist respond to perceived road rage in traffic?

Ignore road rage whenever possible

Someone who gives in to their emotions while driving may become volatile and unsafe. They may swerve at another vehicle, honk their horn, roll down the window and scream at another driver. Even responsible, safe drivers can trigger road rage in others. Choices like driving slower in blustery weather or merging in front of someone could lead to a driver becoming aggressive and unpredictable.

Someone facing the road rage of another motorist should avoid making eye contact or directly communicating with the other driver. Whenever possible, it is advisable to let them pass. Moving into the right lane so that a speeding, angry driver can move on with their day can sometimes defuse the situation. Other times, the driver who feels threatened by the road rage incident may need to change their route, possibly by turning off onto another street or exiting the interstate.

When changing routes isn’t an option or the road rage driver seems intent on escalating the situation, it may be time to contact the local authorities. Calling the non-emergency police number to report the incident and provide a description of the vehicle, ideally including the license plate information, can help someone get support when they worry that road rage might lead to an assault or worse.

When road rage drivers attack people or intentionally force them off the road, the person who likely didn’t do anything illegal may have injuries and major expenses to cover. Filing an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit could be an appropriate response to a Wisconsin road rage incident that results in someone’s injury.

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