© Luis AscuiRoad rage is a growing problem on the streets of Melbourne.
The extent of an aggressive driving epidemic on Victorian roads is starting to come into focus.
More than 80 per cent of Victorians say they have expressed anger on the road, to sometimes devastating effect.
From tailgating to verbal abuse and physical assaults, the most severe instances of road rage have ended with several motorists being hospitalised this year.
But is it a criminal offence to chase another driver or get out of your car and abuse them?
There is no specific road-rage offence and the law is unclear on whether individuals can be charged for deliberately pursuing another vehicle.
© Luis Enrique AscuiAssistant Police Commissioner Doug Fryer says road rage is not minor traffic matter.
According to a Victoria Police spokeswoman, each road rage case is assessed on its own merits like any other assault.
Tailgating is an offence in the Road Safety Act, as is touching another driver's car (tampering or interfering with a motor vehicle without just cause or excuse).
If someone is verbally abused and afraid for their safety, this can also be classed as an assault.
"If a person feels they have been a victim of an assault they are always encouraged to report this to police," the spokeswoman said.
Assistant Commissioner for Road Policing, Doug Fryer, said perpetrators would be met with the "full extent of the law".
© Provided by The Age
"Every time we have a road-rage incident that involves the ramming of a car or a physical altercation, we investigate that as a criminal offence," he said. "We don't see this as a minor traffic matter."
We asked readers of The Age to submit their stories of road rage and we had dozens of responses, some involving harrowing instances of violent assault and being pursued by strangers.
A few years ago my best friend and I were driving home after a night out. All of a sudden a car behind us starts getting really close and starts high-beaming. I drive into the left lane and at this point he starts trying to side swipe the car. We reach a set of lights. It's red, so we stop. He stops in the lane beside us on Mickleham Road. This big guy jumps out (his car still running) and his female companion sitting in the passenger seat watching on!
We shut the windows. He comes over to the passenger window smashes it open with his fists. Starts laying into my friend's head. Glass and blood everywhere. It was like a horror movie. He was so savage. Like a devilish beast. I will never ever forget that night. He broke her nose. We were absolutely horrified. Many witnesses stopped and gave us his number plate. We went to the police station and filed a report. They kept the car overnight to check for fingerprints etc. From my understanding he was found but he never got any jail time.
That night still haunts me and I'm so wary of other drivers now.
Driving near Highpoint last year, I was turning left on a green arrow. As per road rules, I turned into the left lane and then indicated to move into the right once I was through the intersection. That apparently upset the guy behind me, who tailgated close behind me, yelled abuse, then accelerated sharply to pass me on the left, before slamming on the brakes to come to a screeching halt in the middle of the road about 60 metres in front of me.
Then he got out of his car and ran toward my car as I slowed behind his car. Thankfully I was able to pull around the car and keep going. If I'd had to stop, I have no doubt that I'd have been assaulted or worse.
This happened around 1pm on a Saturday, literally 70 metres from my house: I drove around the block twice to make sure I wasn't followed home, and my hands were shaking the whole time.
I reported the incident, but given I was too rattled to have taken the registration there wasn't really much they could do.
A car that was behind me pulled into the turn right only lane next to me, and when the lights changed, he floored his car and went straight ahead, almost clipping the side of my car, as the road curved on a bend. I had to break heavily to not hit the back of him and I tooted the car. The other driver then slammed on his breaks, and turned into a side street. Again I had to break heavily not to run into him.
He then did a U-turn in the side street, and pulled back out behind me. The driver then tailgated me up to the next set of lights, and as I turned left into the slip road he tried to cut me off on the inside. In order for me not to be side-swiped, I instinctively had to move toward the wrong side of the road. The other car then pulled in front of me, and slammed on the brake and stopped dead.
The driver got out of the car, and started bashing on my windscreen and side-driver window, yelling abuse and using very offensive language. I thought the window would break. He screamed at me to get out of the car, but I just looked straight ahead and tried not to make eye contact. I did not have a mobile phone, so could not ring for help. He only left when other cars pulled up behind. I was too rattled to get his registration.
The constant intimidation that comes from staying on the speed limit while in the left lane with cars/trucks/buses and motorbikes sitting within metres of my rear bumper with no room for error. To see them take risks swerving in and out of traffic and looking back at me for not moving out of their way makes me think we need to adopt the UK method of fixed cameras every two kilometres.
As a former RACV director, I deplore the fact that the RACV has done far too little on this very serious issue.
A P-plater abused me, telling me I had cut him off. He followed a truck into a completely different lane to me. He was tailgating the truck and had no idea which lane he was in. I wound down my window and was laughing and told him "I have been driving for 30 years and you are the worst driver I've ever seen, you have got no idea what you are doing". He told me I needed to learn how to drive again and sped off tailgating people and changing lanes with no indicator.
I had been driving during peak hour and the lane I was in was moving pretty well and someone parked from the right hand pulled out in front of me without indication and at the last minute.
I braked and took my hands off the wheel as if to say "What the hell" (didn't beep).
The female driver then stopped the car midway into the lane and put the window down and started hurling abuse at me despite her being in the wrong and giving me hand gestures.
Further down she pulled up next to me and was going off at me and my window was up. I put the window down and asked her "What is your problem?" and then she exploded with abuse at me.
I was driving from one side of the city to another, and for a good part of the hour journey I was tailgated by a very erratic driver. I'm still not sure if he was following me specifically, but the way in which he constantly drove right up behind me, waving his hands in an aggressive manner was enough to make me exceedingly nervous. He had ample opportunity to overtake me but instead shadowed me mouthing abuse at me. More than once I was positive he was going to crash into me and I was terrified that he'd follow me to my destination.
In May 2015 I was driving home from Knox City shopping centre along Stud Road at about 2.15 in the afternoon. I crossed the Burwood Highway at the lowered speed limit of 40km due to construction at the intersection.
Remaining in the outside lane alongside a white 4WD in the middle lane I was finally able to increase my speed up to the 80km/h limit. As I drove along listening to the radio, I was aware of a male voice shouting and assumed that someone was getting in someone else's way and carried along. That was until the male shouting was alongside me, his window down.
It appeared he was shouting at me. I decided to alter my intended route back to Rowville and instead turn right at the High Street road traffic lights. Ooops big mistake, as the lights for a right-hand turn was red and I was trapped.
The aggressor sped through the intersection, parked his car in the entrance to the Coles fuel stop and ran diagonally across the road in front of ongoing traffic towards me.
I had to act fast and changed my direction as soon as possible and pulled back into traffic moving along Stud Road driving towards the man. His response was to raise his hands in the air. I avoided eye contact with him at all times and drove away. Eventually I took refuge in a nearby shopping centre where I called police. and after a lengthy conversation was advised to return to Knox Police Station and make a report.
My quick thinking saved the day and me, and it did take many months to settle back into feeling safe once again. I was 75 at the time.
On a bike
Riding along a two-lane road early this morning, almost no traffic about. I am using the left lane and there are no roads intersecting from the left. The driver went past me quite closely, accelerating his car aggressively just when he was closest and swerved around me to accelerate away, two wheels in the gutter. This is by no means the worst road rage I have experienced, but is the most common form. I experience this type of behaviour weekly at least.
I am a 38-year-old male. At approximately 10:05-10:10am on Thursday, 18 March, 2010, I was riding my bicycle westwards along Wellington Parade, approaching the intersection of Batman Avenue and Exhibition Street. The lights were red and I was slowly cycling in the bicycle lane. As I was approaching the intersection and passing a grey four-wheel-drive, this vehicle gunned its engine and lurched forward attempting to cut off my path forward.
The male driver wound down his passenger window. I asked him "What are you doing?" He responded angrily "F--k you, you c--t I'm going to tear your f--king head off" And as the lights had changed, he drove ahead and pulled over at his first opportunity.
I had also crossed the intersection and saw that the driver had pulled over and exited the vehicle and was aggressively coming towards me. I retreated backwards a short distance to avoid a confrontation, and the male continued to advance on foot towards me. I continued to retreat as the male got closer, and then seeing that he was not going to give up, and was a sufficient distance from his vehicle, rode away towards the safety of the Yarra bike path.
And the other side
Idiots who can't drive at speed limit in areas where it's completely safe to do so, slowing everyone. If they are so scared of driving, they should get off the roads and catch a bus, and let the people who have to add unwanted additional time to each trip to drive safely at a reasonable and legal speed.