On December 17, an enraged driver fired into a car occupied by a set of Pickens grandparents who had a grandchild in the back. Apparently they had pulled out in front of the other vehicle.
On that same day a Little Rock, Ark. man shot at a vehicle, killing a 3-year-old in the backseat. The child bled to death in the car driven by his grandmother.
A few days later, Google shows that two Orlando men were wounded when some driving infraction led another motorist to follow them and open fire.
The incident with the Pickens couple is not the first here. On December 28, 2015, a wanted felon shot out the back window of a car driven by a Jasper woman with a pellet-pistol as she was driving too slowly for him during a torrential downpour.
In July of 2015 a wild scene unfolded at our RaceTrac when a driver circled the pumps shooting at another car which had a infant inside, because he didn’t like the way they were driving. At least two other basic road rage stories were found in our files.
Nationally, statistics show road rage cases are increasing, though few sources differentiate between those with shots fired and others such as ramming a vehicle or a simple fist-fight. In an article copyrighted 2016, SafeMotorist.com found that over a seven-year period, 218 murders and 12,610 injuries were attributed to road rage.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recorded fewer than 50 road rage cases in 2004. That number grew to almost 250 cases in 2014.
Experts say it’s hard to know exactly what goes on in the mind of someone so angry they try to harm another motorist.
Local counselor Robin Dunn said those who commit road rage are often either not emotionally mature or are actually sociopathic. He said the emotionally immature may feel they have been disrespected and need to “teach you a lesson,” which can range from basic obscene gestures to violence.
The road rage cases by drivers with antisocial or sociopathic tendencies are much more dangerous as they intend to injure the person who angered them.
Dunn said especially for the sociopathic road rage cases, fear of punishment or concerns of injuring innocent bystanders wouldn’t be a factor in their thinking, and thus not a deterrent.
If you are on the receiving end of an irate driver, let them go on down the road if possible. But if you do end up in an encounter, particularly with someone who is clearly irrational, trying to talk to them won’t work, Dunn cautioned. Don’t roll down your window or get out of your vehicle. Do call 911. “You never know what frame of mind the other driver is in and whether they might have a weapon. Trying to protect your ego if someone is disrespecting you could result in serious injury or death and is in no way worth the risk,” Dunn wrote in an e-mail.
Dunn said people who commit road rage would not likely acknowledge they have an emotional problem so there is little they could do to address their own issue.
Dunn offered a couple of suggestions for anyone who regularly gets near the road rage point: Leave early to not feel stressed; Get plenty of sleep as research has shown a connection between lack of sleep and road rage and to pull over if you know your blood is boiling before you do something you will regret.
Carlton Wilson, a long time local NRA instructor, said shooting from a car at another car is “hugely, hugely” dangerous. He said that should be recognizable by all responsible gunowners. Futhermore, Wilson pointed out that when a bullet hits a car, even if the shooter didn’t mean to kill anyone, fragments of the bullet, metal and glass go flying inside, any of which could be deadly.
Anyone who has ever gone ballistic on the road might want to think about the words of the person who called 911 in Arkansas last month, “This little kid’s been shot.”
Getting even with that guy who cut you off isn’t worth the consequences.