Monday, June 9, 2008

Road rage

Two recent incidents of road rage have sent Lincoln residents to the hospital. On Tuesday, a 32 year old man was beaten while is six year old son watched, by two men who attacked him after they all exited their cars to discuss one anothers driving. In the wee hours on Sunday, a 24 year old man suffered some pretty significant injuries when an assailant struck him repeatedly with a heavy metal clip on the end of a tow strap. The two were part of a group of occupants in two cars who decided to meet in the parking lot of Wal-Mart to settle their traffic score. Several others from both vehicles were arrested for disturbing the peace by fighting.

In both incidents, the victims and assailants all got out of their cars to have it out. That's never a good idea. Keep your cool, turn off, get away, and if you're followed, drive safely and sanely to the police station. A well lit area with lots of people around is the second best choice (there aren't many witness at Wal-Mart at 2:30 AM on Sunday, though).

Everyone has the perception that such incidents have increased, but I'm not sure if that's the case. Twenty years ago, there was no term for "road rage", and nobody keeps statistics like this. The traffic conflicts that precipitate such cases are buried in assault reports. We just don't know if this type has increased or not.

I do know, however, that many years ago as young motorcycle officer yours truly investigated a homicide that we would call road rage today. Donald Edelman was run over by a pickup truck driven by Clyde Rice, after the two met in the parking lot of the VFW club on Cornhusker Highway (now KFOR radio / Three Eagles Communications) to settle their differences.


Anonymous said...

Amazing, he only did a year for that. That's old enough that I can't find out (from the cty atty site) if he was originally charged with something heftier than manslaughter.

In any case, even if the rate of such incidents remained constant, the larger number of drivers would increase the total number of incidents, wouldn't it?

Anonymous said...

Road rage is a problem in Lincoln. We don't need statistics to prove it either. The city of Lincoln is one of the most time consuming cities to navigate in because there isn't an expressway system. Take into account the stop lights here has no rhyme nor reason, I can see why people get angry when they drive. Also, these are stressful times. Economy is bad, wartime, etc.

Anonymous said...

When a drivers license test is taken should a question address the issue of road rage?

If you have another driver that gives you the finger and appears to be angry, you should,

A) Stop the vehicle and shoot him/her.
B) Stop the vehicle and bust all of the windows out.
C) Get the Pirate doll out of your glove box and poke needles into the parts as a voodoo ritual.
D) Drive safe to a police station or other crowded area.

People that choose A. B. C. would be shocked by taser and fail the test.

Tom Casady said...


Sure, the greater number of miles driven would undoubtedly increase the sheer number of incidents, but the rate (incidents per million miles or incidents per capita> might not be any greater. I just don't know.

I went to a presentation several years ago at a conference where the speaker claimed that the number of highway lane miles in the United States had increased only slightly (like, less than 10%) since the mid-1960's, while the miles driven had more than doubled.

Anonymous said...

The criminal histories of the suspects in both of those cases shows quite a contrast.

In the first, one of the two suspects is an ex-con with six prior felony convictions. Funny how the "great" local paper never mentioned that history. He got 3-6 for those, but got kicked loose in less than 2 years, and was thus out on the street again to beat that man in front of a young child. Thanks, parole board, thanks judge, thanks legislature. I bet he'll be out in a couple of years to do something even worse.

In the second incident, the tow strap had one prior misdemeanor drug conviction (MJ <1 oz).

The Chief might have the historical data, but I'll bet there wasn't any "road rage epidemic" during the great depression or WWII, so I don't think the economy and wartime hold any water as excuses for violent offenders.

Anonymous said...

Pirate road rage.

Spay and neuter your pets.

Anonymous said...

Q. Someone cuts you off in traffic. Choose from the following:

A. Chase them, then shoot them
B. Chase them, then run them off the road
C. Chase them, then throw a yard-long axe at them
D. Shrug it off as just another example of careless driving

This individual chose "C", thus failed the test, and seems to be reverting back to the same old script (look him up for similar priors, folks). Those anger management classes must not have taken hold!

On a related note, I wonder if an axe is classified as a deadly weapon, or just a run-of-the-mill weapon.