The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported an astounding 500% increase in fatal car crashes stemming from aggressive driving. While in 2006 there were 80 such crashes, there were 467 in 2015. Many drivers in New Mexico have probably encountered an aggressive driver, or perhaps they have fallen into a fit of road rage themselves.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety took a poll back in 2016 asking about aggressive driving habits. Nearly 80% of drivers admitted to expressing anger or aggression while operating a vehicle at least once in the previous year. Among the most common acts of aggression were tailgating (51% admitted to it), yelling at other drivers (47%), honking the horn (45%) and making obscene gestures (33%). More dangerous actions that respondents admitted to included cutting off a driver on purpose (12%), confronting a driver (4%) and ramming a car on purpose (3%).

Various explanations have been offered for this rise in aggression, and one of the most compelling is the rise in sleep-deprived drivers. Many sacrifice sleep for the sake of keeping up in a fast-paced work environment. Stress at work or home, relationship issues and financial issues can all raise the risk for road rage. Drivers should always try to be courteous to prevent conflicts.

If an innocent motorist becomes the victim of an aggressive driver, then they can pursue a car accident case against the at-fault party’s auto insurance company. Their claim may be able to cover more than just medical expenses and vehicle repair costs. Victims of outrageous conduct can sue for punitive damages, which go beyond compensatory damages and are meant to punish the defendant. To see if they have good grounds for a case, a victim may consult an attorney.