It’s the most romantic time of the year…right? Unfortunately, not everyone on the road feels the St. Valentine’s Day spirit. As much as we worry about car accidents caused by distracted driving, unfortunately, injuries can be caused intentionally by drivers’ rage.
While your version of “road rage” may be a bit of yelling inside your car or honking your horn, some drivers in Texas and across the country are putting people’s lives in danger with their extreme road rage. This rage is often made worse by the traffic, emotional pressure, and financial worries that the “season of love” brings.
Recent Road Rage Incidents in Texas
In early December, ABC 13 Eyewitness News reported three violent road rage incidents that occurred in Houston in a matter of two days. The first incident happened when a man driving on I-10 slammed on his breaks and began throwing rocks at car with a woman and her 3-year-old daughter inside. When the woman called 911 and attempted to record his license plate number, he took out a gun and pointed it at her while both cars were still driving. In this case, the woman and her daughter were unharmed.
That night, a mother of two was found shot to death inside her vehicle. Police believe she was the victim of road rage violence while driving on her way home from work. An eyewitness saw an altercation occur between the woman and the shooter and heard gunshots soon afterward.
The next afternoon, two men involved in a minor car crash on one of the busiest roads in Houston got out of their cars and began firing multiple rounds at each other. Pedestrians, including a reporter near the scene, took cover. A nearby woman was grazed in the ear by a bullet and was taken to a medical center for treatment. One of the men also suffered a wound to the chest and was taken to the hospital.
About a week earlier, another terrifying road rage incident occurred when a woman was physically and verbally abused by another driver. The victim honked and went around the driver after being cut off. The driver began yelling, then followed the victim to an empty parking lot, got out of his car, yelled expletives at her and her passenger, and punched her in the face twice (KVUE ABC). Although the woman recovered, her injuries left her with emotional trauma.
How to Handle a Driver with Road Rage
The stories above are extreme cases, but they prove that road rage is a very real, scary problem in Texas. Here are some tips for how to avoid being a victim of road rage:
- Don’t offend: Avoid engaging in driving behaviors that are known to anger other drivers. Survey results show that drivers are most upset when they are cut off, stuck behind someone driving slowly in the left lane, or tailgated. Also, don’t throw your hands in the air or give “the finger”—gestures are almost guaranteed to thoroughly upset another driver.
- Don’t engage: Once a driver is angry, the best way to diffuse the situation is to avoid engaging. When a driver gets upset with you for a seemingly minor infraction, it is easy to get defensive or to retaliate. Don’t do it. Give him as much space as possible, avoid eye contact, and call 911 if you are afraid you are being followed. Don’t lead the driver to your home, or go to a deserted area like the Austin woman in the story above.
- Adjust your attitude: Try not to get wrapped up in the argument. You have generally better driving experiences when you make a conscious effort to be more empathetic and stop treating driving like a competition. With a little analysis of your attitude, you may even realize that you are occasionally the instigator in road rage situations, and you can adjust your behavior.
Speaking of attitude, the Weirton Daily Times gave some straightforward advice for interacting with others during the holiday shopping season—be polite. As the Weirton said, “there is no need to rush, push, bully, and jostle…take a deep breath.” Showing kindness to others when driving will make things easier for everyone.
Getting Help After a Road-Rage Incident
If you are a victim of a driver with road rage, it is important to seek help. In the moments during or after the altercation, you should call 911 or local law enforcement. The driver may face criminal charges, especially if physical violence occurred. You may also want to pursue a civil claim, where you can fight for compensation for any medical bills and emotional damage. For more information, contact Crowe Arnold & Majors, LLP at (800) 738-4046. We have lots of experience in accidents caused by aggressive driving in the Fort Worth area and will be able to guide you.