By Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.
Road rage is a phenomenon that is no longer new and becoming manifested in increasingly aggressive ways.
Understood as the deviant and furious behaviour of a motorist due to their loss of emotional control, the antisocial behaviour has today surpassed simply honking the car horn or demonstrating a rude hand gesture.
Instead, more and more cases seem to be surfacing in which road rage incidents escalate into heated outbursts incorporating violent physical attacks.
As 2019 wrapped up, one such incident made headlines across news outlets as a man was charged with road rage offences after allegedly forcing another man to cling onto the bull bar of a speeding ute (https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/driver-arrested-after-man-carried-for-3km-clinging-to-bullbar-police-20191226-p53mvy.html) as it drove for three kilometres through Western Sydney.
The baffling incident lasted several minutes and only came to a halt when the driver stopped to let the man off once arriving in Greenacre.
How the Two Men Found Themselves in the Christmas Day Incident
It is alleged that just before noon on 25th December 2019, a minor collision occurred between the men’s two vehicles as they drove on Centenary Drive in Homebush.
The 37-year-old driver of one of the cars, a Toyota Camry, exited his vehicle and approached the other, a Toyota Landcruiser ute.
The Camry driver then grabbed hold of the bull bar at the front of the man’s Landcruiser, however the 45-year-old ute driver simply drove off.
He then continued driving down the road at fast pace for three kilometres, and for part of the time was speeding, while the owner of the Camry fought to hang on.
Road users who were travelling in a vehicle alongside the ute on the Hume Highway started to capture the incident on their phone.
“Call the police! Call the cops, what is he doing?!” the man was heard saying to a passenger in the video (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-26/man-forced-to-cling-to-bull-bar-of-moving-landcruiser/11827522).
They followed the ute and called police to inform them of the bizarre incident unfolding.
The Landcruiser deviated and switched lanes before finally slowing down on Margaret Street in Greenacre, at which point the Camry owner jumped off and the man behind the wheel of the ute drove away.
Ute Owner Arrested at Auburn Police Station
As the Landcruiser fleeing the scene, officers from the Auburn Police Area Command opened an investigation
At about 3:30am on Boxing Day, the 45-year-old man from Liberty Grove was arrested at Auburn Police Station.
He was questioned about the incident and charged with a series of offences including causing bodily harm by misconduct, negligent driving, and driving recklessly/furiously.
He was granted strict conditional bail and is due to appear in Burwood Local Court on 9 January 2020.
Why Does Road Rage Occur?
Generally speaking, road rage results from an aggressive driver who, unable to control their emotions, intentionally attempts to threaten or injure another driver arising from a traffic dispute.
This kind of behaviour, considered antisocial, is often triggered by a specific event. The event usually involves the movement of another driver, such as a collision as the aforementioned case highlights, or even simply driving slowly or cutting into a lane without indicating.
To the road-range-prone driver at hand, it is not unusual for these behaviours to be translated as an intimidation or obstacle, which then leads to aggressive behaviour in response.
In a 2017 Australian study into road rage (https://acrs.org.au/files/papers/arsc/2017/Stephens_00104_EA.pdf), it was found that 18 percent of motorists admitted to chasing another driver when they were angered, with the intent to show the other driver that they were enraged.
The report also revealed that drivers are more likely to engage in road rage if they sense they can get away with it.
Indeed, anger is a very powerful and reactive emotion felt by all humans that can enable us to act in ways we typically wouldn’t.
Nevertheless, nowhere is it more futile and potentially dangerous than when behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Today, violence fuelled by anger on the roads is considered unacceptable.
For details about this offence in NSW, contact our criminal defence lawyers (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/) for a free consult today.
Law, Penalties & Defences for Furious or reckless Driving in NSW (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/traffic-law/offences/furious-or-reckless-driving/)
The maximum penalty in NSW for driving a motor vehicle on a road furiously, recklessly or at a speed or manner dangerous to the public under section 117(2) Road Transport Act 2013 (NSW) (https://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/#/view/act/2013/18/chap5/part5.2/div1/sec117) is:
- For a first-time offender, 9-months imprisonment and/or $2,200 fine with an automatic licence disqualification of 3-years or minimum disqualification of 12-months at the court’s discretion.
- For a second or subsequent offender, 12-months imprisonment and/or $3,300 fine with an automatic licence disqualification of 5-years or minimum disqualification of 2-years at the court’s discretion.
To be guilty of driving furiously, recklessly or in a manner dangerous to the public, the police must first prove each of the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:
- You drove a motor vehicle on a road in NSW; and
- You did so furiously, recklessly or at a speed or manner considered dangerous to the public.
This refers to the manner of your driving, including the control and management of the vehicle you drive.
In respect to furious driving, this is if you drive in a manner that would endanger other passenger(s) or road users- whether or not there was another road user or passenger present at the time.
In respect to reckless driving, this is if you drive in a manner knowing that it creates an obvious and serious risk to other users of the road.
In respect to driving in a manner considered dangerous to the public- this is if you drive in a manner, in the control and management of the vehicle, considered dangerous to others on the road or vicinity of where you drive.
Factors that the court considers in determining this include:
- The condition, nature and use of the road.
- Extent of traffic at the time, or extent of traffic reasonably expected at the time.
- Hazards or obstructions existent at the time on the road. This includes any broken-down cars, fallen loads or accident on the road or nearby.
Some of the defences to this charge include, the honest and reasonable mistake of fact defence, duress or necessity, or where you are not considered to have foreseen the possibility of causing a danger to others in the manner of your driving in the circumstances at the time.
Can you get a section 10 non-conviction or Conditional Release Order non-conviction even after pleading guilty to this traffic offence (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/blog/the-end-of-section-10-bonds-in-nsw-as-a-sentencing-option/) in court?
Short answer is, ‘you’ can still get a section 10.
If after pleading guilty to this offence in court, the Court imposes a sentence without a conviction known as section 10 or conditional release order non-conviction, then you will NOT be disqualified from driving. In fact, you will be allowed to continue driving with your current licence.
You cannot get a section 10, if within 5-years from the time you are being sentenced in court for this offence, you’ve already received a section 10 or conditional release order non-conviction for this or another “applicable offence” (including drink driving, drug driving or negligent driving causing GVBH or death).
Want more info? Speak to one of our experienced traffic lawyers in Sydney (https://www.criminaldefencelawyers.com.au/) over a free consultation today. Call our friendly team 24/7 to arrange an appointment.