Anyone who has driven to work on I-69 or I-465 here in Indianapolis, Indiana knows that this commute often includes congested traffic, sudden stops, and the occasional display of hand gestures between motorists that may express less than appreciative thoughts. While usually no harm results from these lively exchanges, recently I have had two cases where a motorist lost their temper, did something stupid, and caused a serious accident.
In one such case, an elderly man became angry when he thought that another motorist deliberately pulled out in front of him from a gas station. Although elderly drivers usually don’t engage in road rage incidents, this particular fellow followed my client very closely from the back while beeping the horn of his pickup truck and waiving his arms. My client noticed the truck behind him, saw that an elderly individual was driving, and thought that he was have having a medical emergency and required assistance. My client then stopped his car, got out, and walked back to the man’s truck to see if he needed an ambulance. Unfortunately, when my client walked back to the other vehicle, the elderly driver hit him with his truck and knocked him to the ground causing a serious shoulder injury called a rotator cuff tear. While one might expect elderly drivers to be somewhat docile and cautious, it turned out that this fellow had a long mental health history of anger control issues because he thought people were making fun of him!
In another case, my client was traveling on I-465 when another motorist pulled in front of him and slammed on their brakes. The other motorist was apparently angry because they thought my client was driving too slowly. To avoid a certain rear-end collision, my client had to swerve into a median, lost control of his car, and then crashed into a concrete wall. The impact caused serious injuries, including a badly fractured hand that required reconstructive surgery. In both cases, I was able to obtain a substantial settlement from the insurers for these wayward motorists.
While most people may return a rude hand gesture and think nothing further of it, keep in mind that the person in the other car or truck may be a criminal, be on drugs or alcohol, be mentally ill, or a combination of all three! Because such individuals don’t wear a sign that says they are dangerous, it may be impossible to tell who is simply frustrated because they are late to work rather than someone who may try to cause a crash.
Indiana’s Online Driver Improvement Manual recommends the following tips to avoid becoming a road rage victim:
- Ignore the other motorist, avoid direct eye contact, don’t respond to any provocation action such as hand gestures or yelling, and do your best to get away from the other motorist.
- If the other motorist is following you, call 911 on your cell phone and make it very obvious to the other motorist that you are using your cell phone-they will hopefully realize that you’re calling the police and will leave you.
- Pull into a gas station, restaurant, or other public place, go inside right away and ask for help-never go home if another motorist is following you.
- Never get out of your vehicle and approach the other motorist, even if you think they are in distress. Instead, call the police and let them do their job.
While one can’t prevent other people from getting angry, these guidelines may help prevent you from becoming a statistic!
If you were injured in a road rage incident, contact Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorney James F. Ludlow to discuss your rights and find out how I may help. Call me toll free at (877) 897-9466 or submit the simple form on the Contact Us page. The consultation is free, and having a full understanding of your legal rights is always wise.