Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on July 26th, 2019,
by Zane Cagle

Rising Temps and Rising Tempers on Roadways

Angry driver Cagle Law Firm

Posted on July 26th, 2019 by Zane Cagle

Don’t Let the Heat Result in Road Rage

We all become exasperated in hectic traffic.  Most of us assume that we will witness some kind of issue in rush-hour traffic. But, the number of road rage incidents that result in serious injury and fatalities is out of hand.  Driving down interstates and highways can be dangerous enough without fist fights and gunfire. Too many people are hurt every day in St. Louis in a motor vehicle crashes. 

Simple feuds are spiraling out of control quickly. What begins as a driving slight can quickly turn into a serious road rage fatality. St. Louis and Missouri in general have experienced way too many deadly road rage incidents in the last year and it must stop. It seems every summer, we reach this peak of irritability and it seems to plateau when we have extended heat waves. “Summer Traffic-Politeness Goes a Long Way On and Off the Roadway

Road Rage in Missouri

Traffic increases in the summer due to vacation travelers and weekend getaways.   Road rage used to be something we only thought of happening on the I-405 in Los Angeles.  But, it is happening in all of our cities with fatal results.  According to the recent news report, a St. Louis County Prosecutor is charging a 55 year-old Chesterfield man for allegedly opening fire at a car during a road rage incident on Interstate 64 on July 15, 2019 around 6:50 p.m.  Clearly, every person is assumed innocent until they are tried in a court of law. However, no one should open fire on other cars under any situation.

In June, a police chase that began in Kansas City crossed into Kansas and according to reports began as a road rage incident. Again, details as to how and why the incident began is still being investigated.

Springfield, Missouri- A Springfield, MO woman was charged in the death of another woman.  According to reports, the Springfield woman was sitting in afternoon rush-hour traffic and in a hurry to get to the bank. When the car in front of her would not go, she “nudged it” with her car and then “decided to hit it full out”.  After the initial crash, the front driver got out to asses damage, but the Springfield woman slammed into the woman, cutting her in half. Then, the Springfield woman drug the pedestrian 58 feet before getting into another crash. Witnesses boxed in the offender with their cars until police arrived. This incident occurred just prior to the Thanksgiving weekend in November 2018.

In July of this year, a 24 year-old Neosho man reached a plea deal in connection with a road rage incident and shooting on Missouri Highway 249 in 2018.  The Neosho man was accused of shooting a Carthage man in the head during a roadside exchange after the Carthage man did not allow him to pass on the interchange with Interstate 44. According to reports, the Neosho man was hurrying to attend to a family member in a medical issue and was traveling with some kind of off-road flashing lights as he passed other vehicles. Apparently, the Carthage man would not allow him to pass. The accused then made a motion for the Carthage man to pull over onto the side of the road where the conflict continued and ended with gunfire.

In all of these scenarios, it should NEVER evolved into a car chase, fist fight or gunfire.  One brief moment in traffic caused life-changing and life-ending results. While we like to think these are “exceptions”, it is happening once too many times.  Too often for these instances to be “exceptions”.  There are way too many instances, when I can easily find four stories in less than a year.

Managing Our Temper Flares

So, when someone cuts you off, tail-gaits or drifts into your lane due to inattention; it can be briefly horrifying.  We cannot let our temporary fear turn into a fatal moment!  When someone does something crazy in traffic that causes a near crash, my initial reaction is to blurt out obscenities under my breath in my car.  Remember, it is one thing to curse them under your breath, but it is entirely different to “cuss out another driver”.  You never know what other drivers are going through mentally and you cannot assume that everyone else on the road is in a tolerant state of mind. If you think that St. Louisianians are just easy-going, peace-loving drivers, then you have not spent much time in rush hour traffic.

Again, while a simple exchange may seem humorous (when they happen to other) after the fact, these road rage incidents are a gravely serious matter.  In the fatal road rage incidents above, the circumstances always seem ridiculous in the fatal aftermath. Loss of life and serious injuries are permanent and criminal charges result prison sentences.  Thus, if you find that you get angry while on the road, do not take along your gun!  Guns and traffic are never a good combination.  If you think so, then you haven’t been listening to the news. No one should be shooting other people on the interstates and highways. Good grief, the traffic in St. Louis is dangerous enough without people adding guns to traffic.

Behaviors to Avoid:

Never pull over to the shoulder to argue with another driver. The percentage of times this is productive is very, very low.  One, it is unsafe to pull to the shoulder where other cars are apt to accidentally hit you. Two, no two drivers should confront one another in the heat of a disagreement.  It never goes well.

Don’t abuse your horn.  Honking endlessly doesn’t make anyone move faster and it angers the drivers on all sides of you thus contributing more to the road rage. They heard you the first time!

Speeding and Hurrying. The ‘Me First’ attitude is one that you were supposed to leave behind in  elementary school.  Be patient.  Sometimes, when you cut other drivers a break, they return the favor.   Inevitably, when you see drivers cooperating together, it inspires other drivers to do the same.

Obscene Gestures. Okay, we all might struggle with this more than the other “don’t’s”.   Notice we only do this from our car?  No one ever flips others off for holding up the elevator because you have to stand face-to-face in the box with that person traveling several floors.  If we were as polite on the roadway as we are in the elevator, where would we be?

Tailgating. This is never a good idea.  If the person in front of you slams on their brakes purposely or unpredictably, it can result in a rear-end crash–liability is going to be challenging for you if you rear-ended someone in traffic no matter  how mad you are. Tailgating is not only irritating, it is unsafe.

Leaving the Scene of a Crash.  Drivers and witnesses tend to get really angry about drivers leaving the scene of a crash.  Odds are that someone will take down your plate number and report.  I have seen scenarios where the witnesses follow the fleeing driver.  It is one of the behaviors that other drivers cannot condone.  Plus, it is a felony.

Calm Down–Traffic is Not Permanent

While it may seem like eternity, traffic does NOT LAST FOREVER. There is an end. Thus, using a permanent solution such as violence for a short term problem is absurd.  All motor vehicle occupants are trying to reach a destination.  We all have bigger issues in life such as work, family and friendships.  Involving yourself in a road rage incident threatens all three.

Thus, take a breath, calm down and listen to some music.  Plan ahead and allow plenty of time for your commute.   Most of us in St. Louis try to plan our daily routes according to traffic.  But it is inevitable that you are going to be LATE for an appointment or two.   More than once, I’ve had to sit back, relax and accept I’m going to be late no matter my planning.  Crashes and traffic congestion are a part of driving.  So, is it better for me  yell at other drivers, ram my car into someone else or hasten my own stroke?  Ridiculous right? Never use a permanent solution for a short-term problem.

If you are having a medical emergency, call 911. Do not attempt to use your flashers to bypass traffic.  St. Louis drivers do not move over for personal vehicles with flashing lights. They just don’t do it for a number of reasons.  Understand what an EMERGENCY really is.  A medical emergency is a reason to call 911. If your car breaks down, call 911 immediately.

Remember, We’re All in this Race Together

It may feel like a literal race track and it may feel that you are constantly in the middle of a race on and off the roadway.  So often we attempt to cram so many tasks and responsibilities into small spaces of time,  and we attempt to make up time on the roadway. Then, we blow our stack when traffic is not cooperating.  Again, more ingredients for disaster.  Speeding while driving is a huge contributor to crashes.  Inattentiveness (multi-tasking while you are driving) is the number one cause of crashes.  Everyone on the road is attempting to do the same thing you are—get from one place to another. We all have hectic lives and responsibilities. Let’s get through it safely.

If you are in a motor vehicle incident and you are injured, then you will need an attorney. We are available seven days a week to provide information free of charge.  Car collisions occur daily in St. Louis, so you will want to follow the steps after a crash to be sure you are safe. If you are involved in any type of traffic collision, we can help.

Call us seven days a week, toll free 1.800.685.3302 or locally 314.257.0374