The suspected road rage shooting of a 9-year-old girl in February 2022 has many Houstonians on edge about a growing problem.
According to investigators, several individuals in a white pickup truck cut off an SUV in traffic on the Southwest Freeway near Fondren. When the driver of the SUV pulled into a grocery store parking lot, someone inside the pickup fired into the SUV. The bullet hit the girl in the head. She was rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition.
Authorities have no clues as to the shooter’s identity. However, they offer a $30,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.
Understanding Road Rage
The first step to staying safe in any situation is understanding what caused the confrontation in the first place.
We all get angry from time to time. Many of us have problems controlling that anger. But for hundreds of thousands of Texans, uncontrollable anger is a way of life. About sixteen million Americans have some form of Intermittent Explosive Disorder. These individuals occasionally (intermittently) become extremely angry over seemingly minor matters, like being cut off in traffic. The “disorder” in IED means these reactions happen more than once. However, sometimes these individuals react violently, and sometimes they don’t. That’s the “intermittent” part. In other words, IED is a chronic problem that’s very unpredictable.
Clinically, IED is a lot like bipolar disorder. A low serotonin level could cause this disorder. More commonly, a Traumatic Brain Injury is a culprit, primarily if the TBI affects the amygdala (brain section that controls emotional responses).
Therapy usually helps these victims control their anger. In addition, certain prescription medicines, mostly SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), antidepressants, like Prozac or Zoloft, and mood stabilizers, like lithium carbonate, may also help.
IED may explain road rage conduct, but it certainly doesn’t justify it. If these individuals cause injuries, even unintentionally, a Houston road rage injury attorney can obtain damages for victims in court. These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
What to Do in a Road Rage Incident
Roughly 80 percent of drivers admitted they displayed some road rage symptoms. Usually, the incidents were mild, such as yelling or honking at other drivers. Others were more serious, such as blocking vehicles from changing lanes, tailgating, and intentionally ramming other vehicles.
If you find yourself in one of these situations, especially the more aggressive and dangerous ones, you can stay safe.
Being the object of road rage is very unsettling. As mentioned above, many IED individuals become uncontrollably angry over almost nothing. So, many road rage victims aren’t aware that they’ve done anything wrong.
Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Physics is an emotional law. For every action, there is a reaction. To IED individuals who cannot control their emotions, any response is likely threatening and will escalate the situation. So, even if you believe you are in the right, stay calm.
Stop in a Public Place
This tip is impossible to follow in some extreme situations, like the aforementioned intentional rammings. But for the most part, road rage victims can make it to a safe place.
By “public place,” we do not just mean a publicly accessible place, like a parking lot. We mean a business where people are around, like a busy parking lot. Most people are on their best behavior when they know other people are looking. So, the presence of others might defuse the situation. If the problem continues deteriorating, there are plenty of witnesses.
As you drive, keep your eyes on the road and try to get a description of the other driver’s vehicle. A general description (make, model, color, and partial license plate number) is usually sufficient to locate the other driver and hold the driver liable for damages if worst comes to worst.
Call for help as soon as you stop. In stressful situations it’s almost impossible to watch the road and make a call, even using a hands-free device. Additionally, if the other driver approaches your car, you once again have a witness.
9-1-1 operators sometimes ask pointless questions like “What’s your name?” and “What’s your location?” Most likely, the operator already has this information. 9-1-1 operators can’t send emergency responders into unstable situations without adequate information. So, try to be patient when you call 9-1-1.
Stay in Your Vehicle
It’s tempting to run for it and completely defuse the situation. But at this point, inside your vehicle is absolutely the safest place to be. If you do not respond, there’s a good chance the other motorist may leave. Furthermore, police officers usually respond to these distress calls pretty quickly. So, if you’ve called 9-1-1, the cavalry is on the way.
Show the Other Driver Your Information
Regardless of the overall situation, you have specific responsibilities as a driver and a Texan. Sharing your contact information and insurance information with the other driver is one of these responsibilities.
People exchange insurance information after wrecks. That’s a normal thing to do. If you act normally, the other driver might act normally as well.
A legal doctrine called unclean hands might come into play later. It says people who have acted in bad faith or negligently cannot ask for relief if injured. So, this doctrine probably doesn’t apply to road rage claims.
Call a Houston Road Rage Injury Lawyer
After the incident is over, reach out to a Houston car crash lawyer. Even if you are not physically injured, intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress, causes of action related to negligence could come into play. A lawyer can also help you get your car fixed, if necessary.
Stay smart and avoid road rage injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Houston, contact Williams Hart & Boundas Boundas LLP. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters.