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NHTSA: Road rage accidents, deaths on the rise

An alleged case of road rage in Las Vegas that ended in death has put the issue back in the headlines in the U.S., including here in Pittsburgh. Despite public attention paid to aggressive driving in recent years, road rage has not abated. In fact, more people may be getting killed than ever before by motorists who have allowed their rage over a perceived slight overcome their duty towards others on the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 1,500 people have been killed in car accidents caused by aggressive driving since 2008. Both the number of crashes and deaths rose more or less steadily from that year until at least 2012. The NHTSA reports 179 fatal road rage crashes in 2008 that caused 208 deaths. By 2012, those figures jumped to 299 collisions and 337 fatalities.

Drivers under the influence of road rage may tailgate or cut off their victim. They might swerve across several lanes at once, or weave in and out of traffic in pursuit of their prey. These dangerous moves raise the risk of a serious car accident, and are scary enough for victims.

In extreme cases, there might be a face-to-face confrontation. Video posted by the Today Show on its website shows various men slamming car windows, throwing punches, even pulling a gun over traffic disputes.

This behavior is highly inappropriate, because it is so dangerous. Though most drivers do their best to drive carefully and alertly, sometimes they make a mistake and cut someone off. That is no excuse for putting someone at risk of serious injury in order to get “revenge.”

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