Behaviors such as failing to use a turn signal or driving under the speed limit can often breed tension and animosity among other drivers on the road. However, there is a fine line between feeling frustrated and acting on those frustrations in a fit of rage. When annoyances manifest into anger and aggression, the outcome can be dangerous, and in the worst cases, fatal. There has never been a more crucial time to ease these instances of selfish impulsivity before they start because getting caught in a road rage accident comes at a steeper price than ever before in South Carolina.
Signs and Signals
According to the Insurance Information Institute (iii), aggressive driving and road rage incidents are “difficult to quantify” based on the subjective nature of each event. However, awareness of the situation at hand is important regardless of the scenario.
It is important to note that aggressive driving and road rage are not the same, though aggressive driving can contribute or lead to road rage. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines aggressive driving as when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.”
The NHTSA further distinguishes aggressive driving from road range as:
- Aggressive driving is deliberate, unsafe driving behavior that poses a risk to property or another. Examples include tailgating, speeding in heavy traffic, cutting off another driver, running red lights, weaving in and out of traffic, and rapidly changing lanes.
- Road rage is extreme deliberate unsafe driving behavior that poses an immediate and significant risk to property or another. Examples include rude or inflammatory gestures (i.e. giving “the finger”), profanity, hitting, ramming, or sideswiping another vehicle, using headlights or brakes to intimidate or harass other drivers, or forcing another car off the road. In some extreme cases, this could include gun violence.
Aggressive driving and road rage are dangerous driving activities that people either do out of spontaneity or anger and aggression. Staying mindful of the signs is crucial in this case for the safety of yourself and others.
The Shocking Numbers
This violent and highly destructive behavior is scary and, unfortunately, extremely common. More than 75% of Americans admit to aggressive driving, which is a slightly less extreme version of road rage. According to a survey in 2019, 80% of drivers admitted to significant anger, aggression, or rage while driving.
Sadly, these instances often yield devastating results. According to an analysis of 10,000 road rage incidents over the past seven years, there have been at least 218 consequent deaths and 12,610 injuries. On average, there are about 30 murders that occur each year due to this reckless act. These types of numbers could leave drivers and passengers alike feeling frightened and hopeless. The state of South Carolina, however, is looking to change that.
South Carolina Steps In
After seeing a disturbingly low sentence (30 days) for driver who put a child in the hospital as a result of road rage, Jason Elliot, a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, has proposed amending S.C. Code § 56-5-2925. The amendment would significantly strengthen the penalties for road rage causing great bodily injury. The minimum fine for reckless driving causing personal injury would increase from one thousand to three thousand dollars. The maximum prison sentence for those convicted of, that plead guilty or no contest to reckless vehicular driving causing serious personal injury would increase from 30 days to one year.
Presently, reckless vehicular homicide in South Carolina is a felony, punishable for up to ten years and a maximum fine of $5000. Conviction also results is revocation of license for five years. The current law is S.C. Code § 56-5-2910. An amendment to increase the penalties would extend the maximum sentence from ten to fifteen years. In addition, a proposed amendment would require offenders of this crime with revoked licenses would have to petition for their license reinstatement in the circuit court from the county of their conviction, rather than the county of their residence as the bill currently states.
We Protect The Good People
In these types of cases, someone’s typical car accident is amplified by another driver’s deliberate and malicious intent to harm. The state of South Carolina is not taking it lightly, and neither are we. The South Carolina personal injury attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson are here to help you fight for the best possible outcome for your injuries and losses, as well as pain and suffering. Call us today at 800-533-6845 or fill out a submission form on our website for a free consultation of your case. We will help guide you toward hope, healing, and justice.