People are familiar with the concept of road rage. Most people have had minor brushes with aggressive, angry drivers. Often, the person appears unaware of the potential danger to other motorists; the irate driver narrowly focuses on intimidating the chosen victim.
The majority of road rage incidents resolve when the aggressor achieves a display of threatening behavior. In some cases, however, road rage can turn deadly.
Road rage fatality in St. Petersburg
On March 27, 2019, the driver of a blue 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe encountered a road rage incident with the driver of a black BMW convertible. Although the arrest affidavit says the Hyundai driver could have left the area, he stayed and shot into the vehicle, striking both the passenger and driver. Both occupants of the BMW were severely injured; the driver later died from the shooting. He left behind his wife and five children.
Police identified the suspect from surveillance footage of the crash that showed the Hyundai driver as he fled the scene. A Florida Highway Patrol officer cited the same driver the prior week for careless motorcycle driving that caused a crash with injuries to people in another vehicle. The year before, a Pinellas deputy cited the suspect for excessive speeding, cutting in front of traffic and noncooperation with law enforcement.
Thanks to the surveillance video and prior arrest records, officers were able to track the suspect and capture him. They arrested the man on charges of attempted murder and first-degree murder.
Precautions when road rage occurs
Any driver who notices another vehicle moving erratically should note the tag number and the vehicle’s color, make and model. An observer can also help by reporting any unusual identifying features such as a missing bumper. If possible, the observer should try to notice the driver’s appearance and direction of travel. If a vehicle operator appears to be angry, tailgates others, weaves in and out of traffic or shows a weapon, the observer should leave the area as soon as safely possible, pull over to the side of the road and notify police.
A victim of a road rage incident may want to file a police report after making sure to call for medical emergency treatment. It is important that the victim of a road rage incident asks for and retains copies of any police reports, medical records such as ambulance, hospital and doctor records, insurance claims filed for damage to the person’s vehicle and personal property, as well as an employer-signed record of time lost from work. It is also important to document and photograph property damage to the victim’s motor vehicle.
The most important thing a victim of road rage can do is to involve law enforcement and refrain from any retaliatory action or gesture that may further enrage the person. Police are better equipped to handle an aggressive, dangerous driver.