Road Rage + Trucks = A Formula For Catastrophe

Patience is said to be a virtue in our society, but according to a 2014 survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than three-quarters of all Americans admitted to engaging in aggressive driving behavior at least once in the preceding 12 months. Examples of road rage behavior can include:

  • Purposely tailgating another driver
  • Yelling at other drivers
  • Honking one's horn to show anger or annoyance
  • Cutting off other drivers in traffic
  • Blocking other drivers with a vehicle

Aggressive behavior can escalate into violence if the other driver answers the first's behavior with an even more exaggerated response. Road rage can even lead to a personal assault or attempted murder, inside or outside of the vehicle.

When a commercial truck is involved in a road rage incident, the stakes are even higher. Whether a truck driver starts or responds to acts of aggressive driving, the overwhelming size and weight differential between a tractor-trailer and a passenger car makes the consequences far more disastrous. Additionally, because the trucker is representing a business operation, his or her behavior may lead to criminal liability or punitive damages in a lawsuit.

The lawyers at the California law firm of Girardi | Keese have decades of experience handling truck accident claims. Learn about your options if you are a victim in a motor vehicle accident.

Why Do Truckers Engage In Road Rage?

Long haul commercial truckers are under a tremendous amount of pressure to deliver their cargo on tight deadlines. A road rage incident may start with a single aggressive move, such as cutting off a passenger car in traffic. It can then escalate as more aggressive moves are executed, such as changing lanes without signaling, speeding or weaving in and out of traffic.

While aggressive driving behavior is worrisome no matter the size of the vehicle, a tractor-trailer's length and weight mean it takes far longer for it to stop and maneuver on the road, and it hits other vehicles with far greater force. Motorists and passengers in smaller cars, as well as motorcyclists, often suffer serious or catastrophic injuries during collisions with trucks. If you see a commercial truck driver engaging in road rage, call the authorities to protect yourself and other motorists. You may also call a "how's my driving" hotline if you see such a number printed on the truck.

Raging At Truck Drivers Is Playing With Fire

If you are a driver of a passenger car and you drive aggressively around a truck, you are putting yourself, the trucker and other motorists in danger. If you are casually rude or aggressive in your driving around a truck, it is important to realize the truck cannot stop or maneuver with the speed or agility of a regular car. The weight and size of a semitrailer could turn a simple lane change into a multivehicle pileup.

Who Did What? The Importance Of Accident Scene Investigation

Collisions at highway speeds can happen in the blink of an eye, and memories of the chain of events that led to the crash can fade quickly. If you are on the receiving end of road rage, it is critical that you assist in gathering evidence from the accident scene immediately in order to help reconstruct an accurate picture of what led to it. After calling 911 and ensuring injured parties get treatment, you can:

  • Gather names and other contact information from all drivers and passengers involved in the crash
  • Get statements and contact information from witnesses to the collision
  • Take photos of the accident and any physical barriers or conditions that could have played a part in the event

Are Truckers Always At Fault In Road Rage Cases?

As noted above, on-scene investigations are essential to knowing what really happened during an accident. At the California law firm of Girardi | Keese, our lawyers will examine all factors that may have contributed to the accident, and which behaviors by the truck driver or their employer may have violated strict California and federal regulations.

Another consideration in California truck accident lawsuits is legal principle of pure comparative fault. This states that any award for a plaintiff is reduced by the percentage that they are determined to have contributed to the accident. So, if you are to be found 20 percent negligent in a trucking-related road rage accident in which you were hurt, your award may be reduced by 20 percent.

Keeping Your Cool And Preventing Road Rage Incidents

With the complexity of today's roadway system, it may not be easy to reduce the number of accidents spurred by aggressive driving. But all drivers – of trucks, passenger cars, motorcycles and other modes of transport – can take charge of their own behavior in the following ways:

  • Prepare adequately for your trip so you are organized and relaxed
  • Anticipate traffic bottlenecks or other challenges along your route and think through alternate plans
  • Drive the speed limit, signal lane changes properly and leave enough room between your car and others when passing and driving in your own lane
  • Practice empathy — or seeing things from the other driver's point of view — when you become frustrated in traffic
  • If you see an aggressive driver, stay away — even avoid eye contact
  • If you cannot avoid the road-raging driver, pick a well-populated area to pull off the road

I Was Injured In A Road Rage Accident. Now What?

Depending on the extent of your injuries after a road rage accident, your first priority should be taking care of your health. Make it a point to have all injuries from the wreck documented and treated, and a full prognosis for your long-term recovery provided to you.

Because accident investigations can take time, it is important that you retain a car accident lawyer as soon as you can. Many actions will hinge on the results of the investigation and upon the independent research and interviewing that your attorney may do to supplement it. We will help you determine if a personal injury lawsuit makes sense for your accident and how much compensation you will need to rebuild your life.

Look To Our Firm To Represent Your Road Rage Lawsuit

A single act of carelessness in a road rage trucking accident can change your life forever. Girardi | Keese has nearly 50 years of collective experience helping accident victims build new lives after horrifying injuries. We have recovered more than $10 billion for our clients over the course of our firm's history. You never pay legal fees to us if we don't obtain compensation for you.

To make an appointment for either our Los Angeles or our San Bernardino office, call us at 800-401-4530 or email us using our online contact form.