One driver pulls up to another driver and points a gun at him. After a high speed chase, police officers lose control and crash into a bank. The armed driver races into a neighborhood where he wrecks his car, flees on foot, and breaks into a house. The officers are rushed to emergency rooms and one is seriously hurt. Other police officers eventually arrest the man.
This unbelievable police chase was not a scene in the latest Hollywood action movie. It happened yesterday afternoon in Fort Worth. It was so violent it made national headlines.
The driver, a 21-year-old male, was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, evading arrest, and unlawful possession of a firearm and already had seven outstanding arrest warrants. His passenger, a 21-year-old female, was arrested for possession of marijuana and had five warrants.
Our residents are almost always known for their hospitality and courtesy. But our roadways are sometimes turning into battlefields. Road rage has become a common occurrence.
Road rage is increasing and becoming deadlier
An AAA Foundation study found that road rage factored into an astounding half of all traffic fatalities.
Guns are helping to fuel the fire. The number of reports in which somebody pulled a gun during a road confrontation more than doubled from 2014 to 2016. During that three-year period, 1,319 road rage incidents involved a firearm and resulted in 354 injuries and 136 deaths.
However a car or truck can be a deadly weapon. Angry drivers run others off the road, smash into other cars, slam on the brakes in front of their targets, or just create such a terrifying experience that the targeted driver loses control of his or her vehicle.
Criminal laws that road ragers can be charged with
The good news is that law enforcement is cracking down. Police have stepped up patrols and judges are ordering hefty sentences in Texas for aggressive driving that results in accidents, injuries and deaths. These sentences reflect the reality that road rage is a criminal act of violence.
Enraged drivers may be charged with one of the following criminal offenses:
- Reckless driving. Reckless driving that doesn’t result in a threat of crash can still land the aggressive driver 30 days in jail.
- Deadly misconduct. Reckless driving can be upgraded to deadly misconduct if the aggressive driving put another at risk.
- Vehicular (deadly weapon) assault. A driver may be charged with assault for taking intentional actions that hurt somebody else. Recently a 69 year-old man received 15 years for assault on two motorcyclists who he forced off the road by swerving into their lane.
- Vehicular manslaughter. An angry driver may spend 20 years in jail for her momentary loss of temper that caused somebody else’s death.
- Murder. Intentional killing may be charged as murder. This year, an ex-marine received 44 years for fatally shooting a 20 year-old UNT student during a road rage murder.
What do you do in a road rage confrontation?
You will probably be tempted to respond to a driver who honks, yells, tailgates, cuts you off, or worse. But doing this can dangerously escalate the threatening situation into violence.
Instead, do these things:
- Take a deep breath;
- Get a good description of the driver, car and direction of travel;
- Call 911;
- Stay clear of the irate driver — slow down and pull over if you can; and
- Keep yourself and your passengers safe.
If you have been injured in a crash caused a driver who has engaged in road rage, broke a traffic law, or was negligent, please contact me here.