Happy to be of service when the media wants to try to bring road rage into focus, especially when its an opportunity for me to share some tips and different perspectives that hopefully will help some folks to keep things safer on the roads.
I’ve been seeing an increase in the number of stories about road rage incidents in past months. Additionally, I’ve been getting more calls than I have in some time to be interviewed by various media. Here’s a recent story that is getting a lot of attention, most likely because the victim of the violence was a military veteran and popular member of his community:
We don’t know the details, and the police are still looking for the perpetrator, however, it’s another example of why–no matter how you feel about another person’s driving behavior–it’s safer to get somewhere with other people nearby rather than pull over and take the risk that the other person will be violent and armed. A tragic loss and another harsh reminder to manage your own anger as safety the best you can out there on the roads.
John Bacon, USA TODAY
The shocking death of former NFL football star Will Smith in apparent road rage in New Orleans marked the nation’s third highly publicized road rage incident in less than a week.
Smith, 34, a beloved player who won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints, was fatally shot Saturday following an argument after his car was rear-ended, police said in a statement. In Minneapolis on Tuesday, a gunman shot a motorist multiple times in a road rage incident. And in Houston on Wednesday, a brawl involving several adults broke out over a parking space at the Houston Zoo.
While the circumstances and motive surrounding Smith’s death are not yet firmly established, the problem of road rage is clear cut and on the rise.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, based on police reports, show road rage or aggressive driving were reported as factors in 375 fatal crashes that resulted in 418 deaths in 2014, the latest year statistics are available. In 2009, road rage or aggressive driving was reported as a contributing factor in 196 fatal crashes, causing 235 fatalities. The numbers do not include violence after a crash.
Of course, the vast majority of road rage and aggressive driving incidents do not result in death.
Jeff Asher, a crime data consultant based in New Orleans, said Sunday there are no firm statistics on road rage. But he said curbing the problem has more to do with psychology than driving skills.
“It’s about conflict resolution,” Asher told USA TODAY. “It starts in childhood, with education. Teaching people to resolve their conflicts peacefully.”
In New Orleans, Smith and his wife were traveling in their Mercedes when they were struck by a Hummer H2 driven by Cardell Hayes, 28, police said. The two men “exchanged words,” the police statement said, then Hayes fatally shot Smith and wounded Smith’s wife.
Helen Cameron, a senior fellow at the University of South Australia’s School of Psychology, said men between the ages of 16 to 40 are the most likely drivers to succumb to anger while driving — the same group most likely to commit any other violent act.
“It’s part of socialization and it’s something we as a society have never learned to deal with,” she recently told Australia’s news.com. “Cars are funny because they give people a protective bubble but it’s not the cars that make people angry.”
A recent survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found 87% of respondents said they believed aggressive drivers were a “somewhat” or “very serious” threat to their personal safety.
AAA’s advice when confronted with road rage or aggressive driving: “Don’t engage.” AAA spokeswoman Tamra Johnson said relatively trivial incidents sometimes balloon into more serious altercations.
“People need to keep their emotions in check,” Johnson told USA TODAY. “Don’t offend, don’t engage that driver in anger.”
Contributing: Steve Reilly
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — A 35-year-old Council Bluffs man has been sentenced to five years in prison for beating, choking and kicking a teenager after their vehicles collided.
Ryan Linehan was sentenced Monday. He had pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of willful injury.
According to prosecutors, Linehan was driving in Council Bluffs just before midnight on April 25 when he struck a pickup after cutting it off. Police say the driver of the pickup, 15-year-old Joe Sturm of Crescent, Iowa, pulled over and got out of his car.
According to authorities, Linehan also stopped and attacked the teenager by choking him until he was unconscious, then put him down on the street and punched and kicked him. A friend of Sturm’s had been driving two vehicles behind him and recorded the incident on his cellphone.
I was asked by the media in Michigan to comment on the recent Road Rage shooting in their state:
…of these anger-inducing driving habits?
This is a great piece on how many driving habits can trigger anger and #RoadRage in other drivers. Yes, each of us can CAUSE #RoadRage. Be careful…and considerate…out there!
-Dr. Road Rage.
(for more about Road Rage and my work, visit: Dr. Road Rage’s Website