Last week, 18-year old Bianca Roberson, who just graduated from high school and was getting ready to head off to college, merged onto a Philadelphia freeway. David Desper, age 28, felt he was being cut off, and went into a fit of road rage that ended when he pulled a gun and fatally shot the girl in the head. Desper was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
The week before, 17-year old Nabra Hassanen was walking down the road with friends in Fairfax, Virginia. Darwin Torres, a 22-year old, came up behind the group, got angry because the group didn’t move as quickly as he thought they should. Angry words ensued and Torres beat the young female to death with a bat.
In the past week, where I live in the Dallas area, three separate road rage incidents happened resulting in one death and three injuries.
These are just two examples of the epidemic that is called road rage.
Road Rage Defined
Road rage is defined as aggressive or violent behavior stemming from a driver’s uncontrolled anger at the actions of another motorist. Some examples include:
- Ramming your vehicle with his or her car.
- Forcing someone off the road.
- Pulling over, getting out, and getting into a physical confrontation.
- Inciting your passenger(s) to get into a confrontation with the other driver.
- Using any sort of weapon to inflict harm on another driver or vehicle.
Everybody seems to be in a hurry these days. This often leads to aggressive driving, which can trigger a road rage event. Some of the behavior that leads to road rage incidents include:
- Honking your horn
- Flashing your headlights
- Slamming on your brakes
- Verbally cursing at another driver
- Failure to signal lane changes
- Cutting another driver off
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, here are some pretty scary statistics:
- 37% of the aggressive driving incidents that occur involve at least one firearm.
- The person who is most susceptible to road rage is a male under the age of 19.
- 1 out of every 2 drivers who are the recipient of an aggressive behavior while they are behind the wheel will respond in kind.
- Over a 7-year study period, there were over 200 murders associated directly with road rage.
- More than 12,000 preventable injuries have occurred because of road rage incidents that have occurred.
- 2% of those who have someone driving around them aggressively have admitted to trying to run that car off of the road.
- 49% of road rage incidents are caused by a distracted driver or someone not paying attention.
- 44% of road rage is trigged by someone getting cut off.
How To Keep From Being a Road Rage Victim
Nobody plans on being the victim of road rage when he or she heads out on the road, yet we know it happens every day, and results in death and destruction. There are things you can do to increase the odds this will not happen to you.
- First, give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going. Leave sooner, get up earlier, check traffic reports, anything that will keep you from having to drive too fast. Giving yourself time cuts down on tailgating, aggressive lane changes, and accidentally cutting people off.
- Before you engage with another driver, make the assumption that he or she has a gun in the car and will use it. That will make you think longer and harder before the situation escalates.
- Avoid, if possible, laying on your horn. This behavior seems to escalate aggression in other drivers who are prone to having a short fuse. Should you accidentally cut someone off, give a friendly wave and if possible, mouth that you are sorry. In other words, take responsibility for your mistake.
- Put that cell phone down. Messing with it, texting, checking emails, etc. leads to you not staying in your lane, having to make sudden stops, causing you to make unsafe lane changes, and a host of other issues that can lead to you angering another driver and a road rage incident.
- Don’t be afraid to call 9-1-1 when a crazy driver is trying to harm you. There is a good chance he or she will figure out what you are doing and back away.
- Finally, before you engage with another driver, take a deep breath and try to think of the potential consequences. Do you want to get your car wrecked? Do you want to end up in jail? Is getting into a confrontation with a stranger worth your life?
We need to get a grip on this problem before it gets worse.
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