Grimes & Fertitta, P.C.

Could your fender-bender turn deadly due to road rage?

There's no denying that Houston traffic can be nightmarish at times. Some days you're gripping the wheel with white knuckles, trying to stay in your lane between a couple of swaying 18-wheelers. Others may find you dodging the questionably sober driver who keeps crossing over into your lane. Whatever the case may be, a plethora of petty annoyances can culminate in an instance of deadly road rage should two of the vehicles collide on the interstate.

Road range incident leaves man dead

That appears to be the case for one man involved in a minor collision on the Southwest Freeway close to the Spur 527 split near downtown Houston on Dec. 11. Events unfolded shortly after 2 a.m. when a car with a married couple inside was rear-ended.

The driver of the car that struck the couple got out and began arguing with the husband. At some point during the confrontation, he brandished a knife. The husband, who had remained inside of his vehicle after the collision, fatally shot the 32-year-old man who was holding the knife.

Accidents happen, but road rage is a choice

Obviously, there are far better ways to deal with the repercussions of a car accident than to shoot the other driver. The Texas Department of Insurance publishes a fact sheet of tips to avoid getting involved in road rage incidents:

  • Don't rush to your destination. Keep the posted speed limits and plan enough time to arrive safely. Remember that it's better to arrive late than not at all.
  • Don't "flip off" drivers or lay on the horn. If a driver appears agitated, let him or her pass your vehicle. Look out for signs of drivers prone to road rage, e.g. passing on the right, tailgating, blowing through red lights or stop signs, making faces or obscene gestures.
  • Allow appropriate distances between you and the vehicle ahead of you so that you can stop in time. Always allow other drivers room to stop in an emergency, even if you have to pull off to the side.
  • Don't hog the left lane. Use it to pass, then merge to the right. Use your blinker when you change lanes, but don't forget to turn it off.

Sometimes you can't help getting into an accident with another driver. If you can see that the driver's anger is inappropriate to the situation, don't allow it to escalate by engaging in verbal back-and-forth with him or her. Call 911 and remain in your vehicle until the police arrive, unless doing so presents an even greater safety risk.

Seek civil justice rather than street justice

Don't succumb to road rage. The best way to pursue justice after a car accident is by filing a claim for damages with the at-fault driver's insurance company. Should they balk at paying out your claim in a timely manner, a Houston personal injury attorney can file suit on your behalf so you can recover compensation for your injuries and damages.

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