Montgomery and Warren counties once again are leading the state in road rage incidents this year, while Butler County now ranks fifth for the dangerous activity, according to state patrol data.
Many drivers can get frustrated or angry while behind the wheel, but road rage and aggressive driving can lead to automobile crashes, property damage and violent confrontations that can result in serious injuries or death, police and transportation safety officials say.
Credit: Ohio State Highway Patrol
Credit: Ohio State Highway Patrol
Travel and transportation safety groups say motorists and their passengers should try to stay calm and avoid escalating situations when they encounter angry and aggressive drivers.
“If possible, do not engage,” said Kara Hitchens, AAA Club Alliance spokeswoman. “We always recommend to not give the other driver a reason to react. It may be hard to walk away — or drive away — but it could save a life.”
Montgomery County has had 63 road rage incidents so far this year, while Warren County has 62. Those tallies are far higher than any other Ohio county, according to data from the Ohio State Highway Patrol. That’s despite being the fifth and 10th most populous counties respectively, and far smaller than the counties of Columbus and Cleveland.
Not every local county is so high — Clark County so far this year has only 22 reports of road rage despite I-70 running the length of the county. That’s 19th highest of Ohio’s 88 counties, right in line with population, where Clark County ranks 21st.
Last year, Montgomery and Warren counties each had 117 road rage incidents, which were 28 more than the next leading county (Clermont).
Montgomery and Warren counties may lead the state in road rage reports in part because they handle a ton of traffic on major highways like Interstates 70, 71, 75 and 675.
This year, Clermont County has had 45 documented cases of road rage (3rd most in the state), while Stark County has had 42 reports (4th most), state patrol data show. Butler County has the fifth-most incidents (39).
Butler County had just 48 cases of road rage in all of 2022, but is approaching that number in July.
This data is just for the Ohio State Highway Patrol and does not count road rage cases involving other law enforcement agencies.
Road rage involves extreme, deliberate unsafe driving that poses a significant safety risk, says Bankrate.
Common road rage behaviors include rude or inflammatory gestures, screaming, profanity, honking, verbal intimidation, tailgating too closely, weaving through traffic and sometimes intentional ramming or physical confrontation.
Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck said road rage is being aggressive in a threatening way while in an automobile, and he said unfortunately it happens fairly frequently.
Last year, a man was shot in the leg during a road rage incident on I-675 in Washington Twp. Other local road rage incidents have resulted in shootings and assaults.
Nearly eight in 10 U.S. motorists demonstrate some form of aggressive driving behavior while behind the wheel, says a survey by AAA.
When a motorist is acting aggressively, it can cause other drivers to oversteer or make other mistakes that can cause collisions, Streck said.
To avoid being a victim of road rage, Streck says motorists should slow down and let the other driver pass or they can try to get away by turning off the road or taking an exit.
Streck said motorists should contact authorities when they witness very aggressive behaviors. He recommends motorists drive to a police or fire station or another public and populated space if they are being followed by an angry driver.
“Try to get away from them,” he said. “The best thing for these kinds of incidents is to get everybody separated so whatever is causing this goes away.”
Road-ragers can face stiff legal penalties if they are caught and if law enforcement determines they engaged in menacing, criminal damaging, assault or other crimes.
Tips for dealing with aggressive drivers
Following the rules of the road can help avoid problems. These include maintaining adequate following distance, use turn signals, allowing others to merge, and tapping the horn if necessary without other gestures.
If you encounter an angry driver:
- Avoid eye contact with the driver.
- Don’t respond to aggression with aggression.
- If you feel you are at risk, drive to a public place such as a police station, hospital or fire station.
- If you are confronted, stay as calm and courteous as possible.
- If you feel threatened, call 911.