Road rage: Deadly encounters that can be avoided
MANILA, Philippines—Road rage, which is an escalation of aggressive driving, is dangerous and can even be deadly.
People on the road, especially motorists, should be able to avoid becoming either a victim or aggressor.
Yet over the weekend, road rage, which is characterized by violence, stirred social media again as a video, now viral, showed a retired policeman getting out of his car, hitting a cyclist and cocking his weapon on a road in Quezon City.
As seen in the now-deleted video, the driver of a red sedan, who was identified as 63-year old Wilfredo Gonzales, pulled out and cocked his firearm against a cyclist he was berating.
At a news conference in the Quezon City Police District, where he surrendered, Gonzales claimed that he had already settled with the cyclist shortly after the encounter took place last Aug. 8.
The immediate punishment by the Philippine National Police was to suspend the license to own and carry firearms of Gonzales. The Land Transportation Office is suspending his license pending results of an investigation.
The local government of Quezon City said it will conduct a separate investigation, too, pointing out that should it be proven that Gonzales committed violations, he will be held accountable.
RELATED STORY: LTO vows action on viral road rage incident
According to Sen. JV Ejercito, Gonzales should be charged with grave threats.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety explained that aggressive driving, in extreme cases, may escalate to road rage, saying that in over seven years, 10,000 cases of road rage took place in the United States, leading to more than 200 murder cases.
Aggressive driving, the Dolman Law Group said, is a “driving behavior that carelessly or recklessly endangers another driver,” like speeding, tailgating, or weaving in and out of the lane.
This, however, does not immediately translate to having the intention to harm other people on the road. Dolman Law Group said road rage is characterized by an intention to “intimidate, threaten, or harm.”
Dolman Law Group, a US-based accident injury law firm, said road rage takes place “when a driver operates a vehicle in a manner intended to intimidate, threaten, or injure someone else on the road.”
As explained by the Arizona State University’s Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, “road rage involves an intent to harm, can involve use of the vehicle as a weapon, or can take place outside the vehicle(s) involved.”
It stated in the article “The Problem of Aggressive Driving,” which was written by Colleen Laing, that the social phenomenon is a “more extreme form of aggression that involves criminal intimidation and/or violence precipitated by driving activities.”
As stressed by Harvard Injury Control Research Center “drivers with guns in the car are more likely to make obscene gestures and aggressively follow other drivers,” Dolman Law Group said.
‘Penalize road rage’
Even in the Philippines, road rage is a serious problem that last year on July 7, House Bill No. 1511, or the proposed Anti-Road Rage Act was filed by Bulacan Rep. Florida Robes.
Road rage, as pointed out by Robes, is “any act that exhibits any hostile or violent driving or aggressive road behavior of a driver toward another driver or drivers on the road.”
She said road rage cases in the Philippines are on the rise, with eight of 10 drivers saying they exhibit aggressive behavior at least once a year, while nine of 10 drivers think of aggressive driving as a threat to their personal safety.
Based on Robes’ proposal, which is still pending at the House Committee on Transportation, road rage shall refer to any aggressive, hostile or violent behavior in traffic or on the road by a motorist.
The violent behavior, she said, may include mild to moderate screaming, wild gesturing, cursing or using bad language, physical attack, attempted attack, reckless driving, any kind of threat or intimidation, and any use of force.
Should the bill become law, any person, who initiates road rage, shall be penalized with an imprisonment of not less than six months but not more than six years and/or a fine of not less than P250,000.
Likewise, the LTO may revoke his or her driver’s license and that he or she shall not be eligible for renewal for the next five years after the incident. The victim may file separate charges, too.
According to a report by Dolman Law Group, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said “traffic delays and congestion tend to trigger extreme driving behaviors.”
“So do running late, drivers’ feelings of anonymity while inside a vehicle, drivers’ disregard for others’ safety or the law, and drivers’ habitual or clinical aggressiveness behind the wheel,” it said.
It was stated in an article by the medical website WebMD that people initiating road rage do not see the offender as a person, referring to a statement by psychotherapist Barry Markell (Ph.D.).
Dolman Law Group said “although road rage drivers deserve all the blame for the harm their conduct causes, it pays to take steps to keep yourself safe if you encounter an angry motorist.”
Here are some ways to “de-escalate” a road rage:
- Do not return rude gestures
- Apologetically wave but avoid eye contact
- Put distance between you and the other driver
- Take less crowded routes
- Plan ahead and leave early
According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, motorists should not offend, saying that when researchers ask drivers what angers them most, the results are remarkably consistent—cutting off, driving slowly in the left lane, tailgating, and obscene gestures.
It stated, too, that an angry driver cannot start a fight unless another driver is willing to join in. “You can protect yourself against aggressive drivers by refusing to become angry at them.”
“Forget winning, put yourself in the other driver’s shoes, and if you think there’s a problem, ask for help,” AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety said, stressing that it is critically important to “adjust your attitude.”