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What can happen if you lose your cool in traffic?

It can be exasperating when your morning and afternoon commutes put you on the road with other drivers who are impolite, inattentive or downright dangerous. We can understand your frustration. However, it is important for you and other Ohio drivers to know the potential consequences of losing your patience when another driver makes you see red.

Aggressive driving and road rage may at first glance seem similar. Both are driving behaviors that occur when a driver is impatient or angry. Both can cause accidents. However, you may be surprised to learn that road rage is considered a criminal offense.

The facts

Road rage has been responsible for 12,610 injuries and 218 murders across the country over a seven-year period, states the American Safety Council. That is correct – when a driver loses control of his or her emotions and deliberately causes harm to another, the law considers it assault or murder. It does not matter to authorities if you lost control without fully thinking about running another driver off the road, using a weapon or involving someone in a physical confrontation.

The solutions

While it can feel tempting to retaliate if someone cuts you off, drifts into your lane or honks their horn at you, it is always in your best interests not to engage another driver in a road rage incident. Instead of reacting, you may try to calm down by listening to music or taking a few deep breaths. Avoid looking the other driver in the eye, yelling or giving rude gestures, which may escalate a situation. Tell yourself that maybe the other driver is having a bad day or did not mean to cause offense.

When you consider that facing criminal charges or sustaining an injury in an accident are the potential outcomes of road rage, you might think twice before losing control. However, the law does entitle you to a fair defense.

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