Family

How to Handle a Road Rage Incident …

... and escape with your family's life

It is surely one of the most heart-wrenching of stories, especially at this holiday time. A three-year-old was gunned down in an apparent case of road rage over the weekend in Little Rock, Arkansas.

The local police said the little boy’s grandmother had been taking him and his sibling, an infant, on a shopping trip at the time of the alleged attack Saturday night.

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The grandmother was stopped at an intersection when the suspect, described as a tall black man, pulled up behind her in an older-model black Chevy Impala and started honking, Lt. Steven McClanahan told ABC News. The grandmother honked back, and the man got out of his car and fired shots into her vehicle, McClanahan said.

The three-year-old boy was struck by gunfire at least once, but the grandmother and the infant were not hit in the ambush. The grandmother pulled into a nearby shopping center parking lot and called the police. The boy was later transported to Arkansas Children’s Hospital — where he died.

“Tonight’s homicide was a road rage incident,” police said in a tweet, adding that “the grandma and three-year-old victim are innocent and have no relationship [with] the suspect.”

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Many of us have been in a similarly frightening situation, where just driving down a road or highway becomes a nerve-wracking experience because of a seemingly unhinged driver.

“I have always been very calm, but when I was younger, when I would get behind the wheel, my personality almost changed,” a 55-year-old father and grandfather from Wakefield, Massachusetts, told LifeZette. “I would get really angry when I was cut off — and it was more than being a ‘Boston driver.’ It was like I took out all my anger in other parts of my life on drivers sharing the road with me — giving them the finger and yelling at them. I scared myself, and I definitely baffled and scared my kids.”

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Road rage stories have been too plentiful in the past few weeks. Last week, a New Orleans jury found Cardell Hayes guilty of manslaughter for fatally shooting former New Orleans Saints star Will Smith in an alleged road rage incident.

Smith, 34, was found dead in his Mercedes SUV, slumped over the driver’s seat, according to the Associated Press.

Former New York Jets running back Joe McKnight was also shot to death in an apparent road rage incident in Tarrytown, Louisiana, on Dec. 1.

Another Boston-area woman feared for her life when a driver became angry that she didn’t make a turn at a yellow light.

“I’ll never forget it,” the 54-year-old told LifeZette. “I decided to not turn left on a yellow light due to oncoming traffic, and the man behind me got out of his car and ran over to my car window,” she recalled. “I rolled it up but he kept banging on it, cursing at me. I finally leaned on my horn until he went back to his vehicle, not looking at him even once. Can you imagine becoming that enraged — over nothing?”

Related: Deadly Rise in Road Rage

There are some concrete actions drivers can take if they fear they are in the middle of a road rage incident. These six tips provided by experts were compiled by Geico.com and are important to remember:

1.) Move over if someone is tailgating you.

2.) Use an “I’m sorry” gesture (e.g., a wave) to attempt to defuse the situation.

3.) Plan ahead — allow time for delays during your journey.

4.) Think about whether you’ve done something to annoy the other driver, and adjust your driving accordingly.

5.) Use your horn sparingly.

6.) Avoid eye contact with angry drivers — and give them plenty of room.

If, like the driver in Wakefield, Massachusetts, you are prone to angry driving, remember these points:

  • Aggressive driving plays a role in 66 percent of traffic fatalities.
  • Half of those who encounter aggressive driving behavior respond in kind.
  • A firearm is involved in 37 percent of aggressive driving incidents.
  • Of 10,000 road rage incidents committed over a seven-year span, there were 218 deaths and 12,610 injuries recorded.

Therapy for anger management may also be a consideration, experts say. Whatever the problem — don’t take it out on innocent motorists, and get off the road if you are feeling out of control.

Aggressive driving such as speeding and tailgating can often lead to road rage. And according to the National Safety Council, motorists rate this as a top threat to traveling safely on America’s roadways.

“We have an angrier, more aggressive society overall,” said the Wakefield father and grandfather. “As society has gotten more violent, I have made it a priority to control myself behind the wheel.”

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