Tips to handle a road rage incident

Drivers can get angry on the roadways, but they need to remember they are still operating a vehicle.

Road rage can be scary, with situations that take place quickly and can lead to injuries or even fatalities.

Sgt. Roy Hoskins, who works in crime prevention for the St. Joseph Police Department, said officers do deal with these types of situations locally.

“It happens a lot because we’re so busy and always in a hurry, and if everyone’s like me, they’re perpetually running late or backed up on appointments or trying to get to work,” Hoskins said. “It’s easy to fall into that trap. Everyone needs to give themselves a little more time to get where you’re going, leave a little earlier and I’m just as guilty as anybody. But if you give yourself that little extra time, those instances might not be so disturbing to you or anger-provoking if you’re not in such a hurry.”

Hoskins said a common trigger for road rage is being cut off and driving too closely. Often, this happens when a driver is distracted and not paying attention.

“Frequently looking down at the cellphone is the catalyst in a lot of things driving-related now. That ends up with following too close, not yielding on an onramp, blowing a stop sign, something along those lines, drifting into somebody else’s lane,” he said. “Then you get the other driver that takes offense to that and has an angry response. Justified or not, they may elevate to unreasonable responses. Which may be swearing, the middle finger and, in very bad circumstances, we’ve had guns displayed or shots fired, all over driving. I’ve actually made an arrest or two on road rage incidents where somebody’s pulled a gun.”

If you do find yourself in a dangerous situation with an angry driver, Hoskins said to call 9-1-1 and allow law enforcement personnel to help make a plan.

“If you’re the person who is being raged against, call 9-1-1. If you think there is violence imminent, don’t pull over and confront the person. By all means, don’t get a gun out, don’t get into a physical altercation, call us,” he said. “Listen to dispatch, stay on the line, the communications operator will tell you what to do, where to drive to meet an officer. In a situation where you feel like you have to stop, try to do it in a crowded place where you have witnesses where somebody can also call 9-1-1 and relay information.”

Morgan Riddell can be reached at

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