News Release, AAA

WASHINGTON, D. C. (Tuesday, July 30, 2019) ––Shots were fired during a reported road rage episode in the Third Street Tunnel in the nation’s capital during the height of rush hour Tuesday afternoon, shutting down Northbound I-395 for three hours. Too many drivers are becoming enraged or losing their temper on area roadways. The “Hulk out” behind the wheel. It can have deadly consequences, cautions AAA Mid-Atlantic. In a frightening and reportedly growing number of cases, weapons are wielded or brandished in road rage incidents or episodes. Some areas are reporting a spate of “terrifying road rage encounters.”

  • In January, a woman was reportedly shot three times in a road rage incident on a freeway in Southeast Washington, D.C. The incident reportedly occurred on “Interstate 295 near the Malcolm X Avenue exit.” 
  • In February, an Uber driver in the District was reportedly involved in a road rage incident after “pulling her knife, crashing her car and getting into a brawl with another driver.”
  • Road rage is suspected in a fatal hit-and-run incident that left a 35-year-old pedestrian dead in Northwest Washington, D.C. The fatal road wrath incident occurred in February.
  • In February, shots were fired in a reported road rage incident on Virginia Route 28 in Fairfax County. 
  • On Saint Patrick’s Day, an off-duty Maryland State Trooper was charged after reportedly “pulling a gun during a road rage incident.” 
  •  In June, the Maryland State Police launched a search for a vehicle involved in a road rage incident on Maryland Route 210

Angry motorists have resorted to baseball bats and carjacks as weapons. Road rage is not an isolated incident on area roadways, warns AAA. Neither is anger or aggression behind the wheel on the roadway. Extreme cases of aggressive driving can escalate to road rage.

Approximately eight million U.S. drivers engaged in extreme examples of road rage, including purposefully ramming another vehicle or getting out of the car to confront another driver, previous research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed.

“Wise parents can tame their toddler’s temper tantrums and help their child get through the ‘terrible twos,’ but some grown-ups and adults need a ‘time-out’ behind the wheel,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Inconsiderate driving, bad traffic and the daily stresses of life can transform minor frustrations into dangerous road rage. Live and let live. Far too many drivers are losing themselves in the heat of the moment and lashing out in ways that could turn deadly.”

Road rage and aggressive driving have increasingly become a major cause of concern for many road users. Tips in this AAA brochure will help you avoid becominga victim of road rage.Don’t risk escalating a frustrating situation because you never know what the other driver might do, warns AAA Mid-Atlantic. To defuse a potential road rage incident, and to avoid succumbing to road rage, simply maintain a cool head, and focus on reaching your destination safely. In recent years, motorists in the Washington D.C, area rated aggressive driving as the number one threat to highway safety and their personal safety on the roadway.

Although the terms “road rage” and“aggressive driving” are often confused or used interchangeably, there is a world of difference in the outcomes and the risk factors. Road rage is best described as a predatory driving wherein a belligerent driver deliberately and wantonly targets another driver. It includes an angry driver sideswiping a Greyhound bus and breaking its windows in the District. Still, local motorists place aggressive driving at the top of their concerns about driving. American drivers perceive distracted, aggressive, drowsy and impaired driving as dangerous, according to a new AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey.

Throughout recent years drivers have expressed growing concerns about road rage and aggressive driving behavior. For example, a few years ago, 73 percent of drivers thought aggressive driving was a bigger problem or issue compared to three yearsearlier, with 43.2 percent of those respondents saying it was a “much bigger problem.” However, drivers’ perceptions of the dangers associated with aggressive driving in the latest survey were somewhat lower than researchers expected. Yet the perceptions on the risk of arrest for aggressive driving were fairly high, reveals the latest annual Traffic Safety Culture Index(TSCI) from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Most American drivers remain concerned about aggressive driving on roadways across the nation and the region, according to the revised 2018 TSCI.

In 2015,78 percentof drivers in the United States reported having engaged in at least one aggressive driving behavior at least once in the past year. Now fewer people are confessing to such behavior. The telltale signs of aggressive driving include tailgating, honking to show annoyance/anger, blocking another driver from changing lanes. Keep in mind, drivers may underreport engaging in aggressive driving behaviors due to their negative social connotation, and thus the true prevalence may be higher than the estimates reported, explains AAA. According to the findings in the 2018 Traffic Safety Culture Index(TSCI):

  • Nearly sixty percent of respondents reported they thought the police would be somewhat or very likely to catch drivers for engaging in aggressive driving.
  • Seven out of ten respondents (71) percent say they completely disapprove of aggressive driving.
  • Remarkably, 75.1 percent of drivers surveyed said they never engaged in any aggressive driving behaviors behind the wheel in the past 30 days.
  • One in ten drivers said they drove aggressively at least one time or once in the past 30 days, and 12 percent confessed they drove aggressively a few times in the previous 30 day period.

The new survey results are part of the AAA Foundation’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index, which identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The survey data are from a sample of 2,582 licensed drivers ages 16 and older who reported driving in the past 30 days. “It’s completely normal for drivers to experience anger behind the wheel, but we must not let our emotions lead to destructive choices,” explains the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. In contrast, a few years ago, nearly two in 3 U.S. drivers believed aggressive driving is a bigger problem today than three years ago, while nine out of ten believed aggressive drivers are a serious threat to their personal safety (AAAFTS, 2015).

To avoid such incidents, manage your behavior, and manage your responses, advises AAA. If you feel threatened, call 911. You will see other drivers doing things that are illegal, inconsiderate and even incomprehensible. Don’t respond personally. Most drivers are not thinking about their impact on you; they are just rushed, distracted or upset. Remaining calm and courteous behind the wheel lowers your risk of an unpleasant encounter – with another driver and with law enforcement.

Previous research by the AAA Foundation found that from 2003 to 2007, over half of fatal crashes involved at least one driver who performed a potentially aggressive action. The AAA Foundation issued its first Traffic Safety Culture Index in 2008, and the latest report is online

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...