By Mary O’KEEFE
Most people have seen those shaky car dash cam videos usually taken by or of road rage victims. One of the latest, videoed from a vehicle behind the incident, shows how a female SUV driver had apparently enraged the driver of another car because she had cleaned her windshield while driving, causing some cleaner to get onto the vehicle close to her. This angered the driver of the car enough to take out a gun and shoot at the SUV. No one was injured – that time.
Another incident occurred recently in a quiet neighborhood in Oregon where a person was stabbed and a street brawl resulted after a road rage confrontation.
Close to home, two witnesses, both who wanted to remain anonymous, shared their recent road rage experiences – and one incident wasn’t even on a road.
The first occurred at a Pasadena gas station. A female driver had pulled into the station into a lane facing opposite of the directional arrows. The witness had pulled into the correct lane and waited for the driver to finish pumping gas and to back out of the lane. As the witness waited more vehicles pulled into the lane behind him, resulting in three vehicles lined up and waiting for the driver to back up. She finished pumping gas but did not move her car. Instead she got on her phone. The witness reported waiting for a little while then finally going up to the woman to ask her to leave the lane.
“She was rude and angry. She said she was there first and she was willing to wait for all the other cars to move out of the way,” the witness said.
The station is on a busy street and having several vehicles back up into traffic would be difficult, so the witness got back into his car and waited for another lane to open while the line behind him grew.
A young woman was at another aisle and noticed the driver causing a traffic backup. She approached the vehicle and asked her to move. According to a witness, the driver opened her car door and told the young woman she was afraid to back up and wanted everyone else to move. Despite the offer to help get her out of the lane, the driver refused and slammed her car door trapping the young woman’s hand in the door.
The driver at first refused to unlock or open the door to release the young woman’s hand. After about a minute the driver finally unlocked the door allowing the young woman to open the door to free her hand. Police were called, as were paramedics, who found that the young woman had at least one finger that had been broken possibly in three places. She was advised to go to the hospital. The witness gave his statement and the police began to speak with the driver, who exited her vehicle when officers arrived.
Another incident occurred in Montrose. A man was in his vehicle on Montrose Avenue in the far right lane. A vehicle drove up to the passenger side of his vehicle. Although there is not a right turning lane many drivers use this space when turning right. However, the vehicle did not make a right turn and instead the driver decided to go straight trying to get in front of the man’s vehicle. The man said he was driving the speed limit and did not realize the other car wanted to move back into a lane. The driver of the other vehicle became aggressive and began to follow the man. There were gestures exchanged, then the aggressive driver pulled up next to the man and brandished a knife, yelled something that the victim could not understand and then drove off. The man attempted to report the incident but was advised by the law enforcement officer not to because it “would be your word against his.”
Glendale Police Dept. spokesman Sgt. Robert William said that many times road rage occurs after a confrontation between two drivers and, from his experience, those that revert to rage are not normally “bad people” but people that let a situation get out of control.
But, he added, those who brandish weapons – like a gun or knife – display a different type of road rage and these people are a concern.
“It is hard to say if the number of [cases] is going up,” William said. “I think technology allows people to bring this [issue] to the [forefront] with the use of dash cams.”
He added that sometimes an incident is incited when one driver honks at another, or hand gestures are exchanged.
He does have suggestions for those who find themselves as a potential victim of road rage. One is to avoid aggravating the situation by honking or cursing at the other driver.
“If you do become a victim of road rage, you need to call 911. What I tell [drivers] is to start driving to the closest police department. Stay on with the 911 [dispatcher], letting them know where you are. We want officers to catch up.”
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has offered some tips on how to avoid being a victim of road rage and how drivers can keep their cool so not to become that warrior driver.
The first tip, according to AAA, is not to offend, meaning do not cut another driver off, do not drive slowly in the left lane and don’t tailgate. The second is not to engage the angry driver and to instead give them room to leave the area. And the third is for the angry driver to go through an attitude adjustment, including letting the other guy “win” if the drive becomes more of a race than a safe journey to a destination. It is also suggested to employ empathy, thinking of what the other driver might be thinking. When drivers realize that they appear to be getting angry more often when driving it is time to ask for help in finding the cause of the anger.
“In a 2016 AAA Foundation study, many drivers admitted having let their anger and frustration get the best of them at last once in the past year, engaging in behaviors such as yelling, honking, gesturing at, or purposefully tailgating another driver. However, you never know how another driver might respond; the same study found that nearly 8 million drivers had gotten out of their car to confront another driver or even bumped or rammed another car on purpose,” according to AAA.