Deadly Road Rage

On July 17, 2021, one man found himself being shot at while driving his car on a Houston, Texas freeway.  The man who aimed a handgun and fired shots at him apparently did so with no provocation. Fortunately, the man (nor anyone else) was not struck and able to escape the danger. A video surfaced of the suspect as he drove his vehicle on the freeway as another vehicle to the left side of the suspect’s vehicle appeared to be attempting to evade him.  This video appears to be that of another vehicle’s dash camera.

As of July 2021, there has been 137 shootings for the 2021 year on Chicago, Illinois area expressways (freeway), with 128 expressway shootings in 2020 and 52 in the year 2019.

During every critical incident where danger is present, people do things they later look at as the absolute right thing, or things they might change if they had an opportunity to do it over again. I am not attempting to sit in judgement of what the driver or drivers did as right or wrong.  Whatever they did worked for them as they lived through the event.  I will however point out some options that people can use if they should have similar threats presented to them.

In most road rage incidents, one of the involved driver’s may feel the other driver or drivers has committed some unforgivable lapse in judgment they should be punished for.  And in other cases, it may be the other drives may not have committed any lapse in judgment other than being on the roadway.

If you are one of the driver’s who has committed a known error, don’t allow your ego to dictate your behavior.  Be the bigger person to apologize.  Even if the driver can’t hear you but see you and is in the process of giving you the “evil eye.”  You can still mouth the words and convey the appropriate facial expressions to go along with your apology. 

If the aggrieved driver becomes aggressive, never stop your vehicle to get out and have a chat with the driver or their occupants. Doing so, may not have the intended consequences of just a friendly chat.  Many times, these stops have turned into violent altercations that were not favorable to the driver.

If you are on a freeway or highway (as was the case in the July 17th Houston, Texas incident), once you notice the threat of a firearm being aimed at you or fired at you, take immediate evasive measures.  The longer you stay in the immediate area of the perceived aggrieved driver displaying a firearm, the more apt you and anyone in your vehicle are to being the victim of a shooting.

Option number one: If the suspect and your vehicle are traveling at or near the posted speed limit, and you have no other vehicle directly behind you, take immediate evasive action by abruptly slowing down.  This abrupt change is speed will allow the suspect’s vehicle to speed quickly pass you and hopefully get you out of immediate danger.  When it’s safe to do so, change lanes and exit the freeway or highway.  Make sure the area (or neighborhood) you are about to enter is one that you can summon help without being further victimized.

Option number two: If you are not able to take immediate evasive action by abruptly slowing down and changing lanes on the freeway or highway, you may be forced to lean further into the center of the vehicle to take cover.  An example of which is one where the vehicles are in a rush hour situation and all the vehicles are either stopped in traffic gridlock, or in a stop and go mode of travel.  In that case, drive to the shoulder of the highway and reverse directions.  Drive to the left or right shoulder of the road, abruptly stop, place your vehicle in reverse and drive backwards out of the immediate area. Your goal is to quickly create space between you and the person(s) with the gun(s).

Option number three: If you are driving on a two-lane highway, the options to take immediate evasive actions are limited. You can either abruptly slowing down or stopping and allowing the suspect’s vehicle to continue moving forward, or to reverse direction and go back in the direction which had previously traversed.   

Option number four: If you are driving on municipal streets or roads where the vehicle speeds are not over fifty miles per hour, once you notice a driver pointing a firearm in your direction or firing shots at you, once again take immediate evasive action. You can either abruptly slowing down or stopping and allowing the suspect’s vehicle to continue moving forward, or to reverse direction and go back in the direction which had previously traversed.   

Do not chase the vehicle and it’s armed occupants.  Doing so may put you more at risk and they may lead you into an ambush. Also, never allow the threat of the armed suspect to cause you to drive out of the safe control of your vehicle. If you are not used to driving and manipulating a vehicle at high speeds under stressful and dangerous conditions, doing so now may cause you to crash your vehicle.

Never attempt to capture the suspect’s image on a cell phone camera.  The photo you may (or may not) capture may be the last photograph you take.

As soon as the suspect’s vehicle is far enough from you where they are no longer a direct threat to you and the occupants of your vehicle, telephone 9-1-1 and report the shooter or gun wielding person.

If you are not the intended target, but you witness the armed encounter, you may also be at risk, and you too should take immediate evasive action. You may not be aware of the totality of circumstances involved in this deadly encounter.

Make sure you provide your exact location and the complete description of the suspect’s vehicle and if possible, the person who either fired shots or brandished the firearm.  If you were not able to obtain the license number, provide as much information about the suspect vehicle, their last know location and the direction of travel.  Also provide how many occupants you noticed that were inside the suspect’s vehicle. Your goal is always to survive the violent encounter.

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