By
JONATHAN W. BLODGETT
ESSEX DISTRICT ATTORNEY


Road rage is a serious public safety issue which seems to be increasing in both its frequency and level of violence.

In Brockton a young father was gunned down as he held his nine month-old daughter in his arms. In Lynn a mother and her teenage son were shot, allegedly by a Malden man infuriated over a traffic incident.

These latest instances of road rage are not unique, but because of their severity and the fact that they occurred so close in time to each other, they are chilling examples of the dangers we might face every time we get behind the wheel of an automobile. They are jolting reminders that one angry, impulsive reaction to a traffic incident can alter lives, and sometimes steal them, forever.

Several years ago in Danvers two men emerged from their cars in a confrontation over a traffic dispute. One of the men armed himself with a crowbar and bludgeoned the other to death. He subsequently was convicted of manslaughter. The event can only be described as a tragic, senseless waste of two lives.

We live today in a world of impatience and intolerance. Our region is congested with motorists, and everyone, it seems, has to be at their next appointment "five minutes ago." Sometimes tempers run short and emotions run high. But there can be no excuse for, or tolerance of, the behavior known as road rage.

Road rage is a public safety nightmare that has swept our country. In a particularly egregious case, a young Florida man is at this moment awaiting a jury's verdict that could send him to jail for a minimum of 25 years. During a road rage incident in the Orlando area that lasted for more than 20 miles, he allegedly fired a shotgun into his pursuer's vehicle. The blast killed a five year-old girl in that car.

Making it even more unbelievable is the fact that the pursuer raced after the defendant's vehicle in a rage, with his little girl in the back seat. Now she is dead, and for what? The root of the tragedy: the girl's father thought the defendant had cut him off.

Dedicated police officers work diligently 24 hours a day, seven days a week trying to keep our roadways safe. But the most important players in that effort are all of us.


Massachusetts State Police advise motorists to try to:

Avoid a road rage situation at all costs. The risks are never worth it.

De-escalate. Don't do anything to further upset the other driver, and try to distance yourself from that person.

Notify. If you have a cell phone and need help, dial 911. Don't take matters into your own hands.

State Police also maintain that the easiest way to avoid road rage situations is to drive in a safe and reasonable manner. Avoid tailgating, don't make unsafe lane changes, yield the right of way, use your signals, keep to the right, and obey the speed limit.

To help make our roadways safer, please consider this final thought: Remember that in that other vehicle is somebody's son or daughter or spouse. The next time you approach an intersection or begin to drive aggressively, imagine they are yours.