In February 2013 there was a lot of buzz regarding the latest national transportation study by Texas A&M about driving time delays — San Diego came in 16th in the nation when looking at time wasted in congestion. Most of the local news focused on the improvement efforts for traffic in San Diego as part of longer-term transportation strategies, such as the I-15 express corridor. But what about the annoyance and frustration drivers feel when stuck in traffic? Have road rage incidents decreased with the traffic improvements in San Diego?
What was not as well reported was information about the Texas A&M Commuter Stress Index — an indication of how stressed out motorists are San Diego roads. San Diego drivers spent an average of 37 hours stuck in rush-hour traffic. This is barely more than half the amount of time spent by drivers stuck in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. traffic. Despite this day and half stuck in a car, driver stress has declined over the past five years.
Does that mean that San Diego drivers should no longer be concerned about “road rage”?
Not necessarily. In fact, recent estimates by Allstate Insurance placed San Diego at a moderately low 124th out of top 200 metropolitan areas in the nation for “best drivers”. It should be noted that the top five safest driving cities are located in areas subject to extensive snowfall, thereby keeping people inside for warmth. Even though San Diego is low on this list of 200 cities, we do have better weather conditions.
Road Rage and the Law
So, what does California law say about “road rage”? While there is no specific statute for “road rage”, there are criminal penalties for “reckless driving” and potential “felony assault” if the vehicle is driven in a dangerous and aggressive manner. Aggressive driving is considered reckless. Reckless driving can land you with a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days in jail. Aggressive driving can also be considered assault with a deadly weapon and lead to a charge of misdemeanor assault. With a misdemeanor charge you can find yourself in jail for up to one year. If you find yourself facing a felony assault charge, then jail time can be two to four years.
Charges of reckless driving to felony assault can lead to civil liability. Even if you are not convicted of reckless driving, you can still wind up in court defending yourself against charges of injuring another person and their property. Which means, if you are a victim of road rage, you may have a case.
If you come upon a reckless driver, give them space. If you witness acts of road rage while driving in the San Diego area, you are encouraged to call 911. If you are in an accident due to the actions of a reckless driver, you could have a legal claim.
To explore your legal rights as a plaintiff in a road rage case the Walton Law Firm will assess your case with a free consultation.