No one should lose their life over an incident of road rage, and the Dallas Police Department is working to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
The department soon will launch targeted road rage mitigation efforts in response to the uptick in aggressive drivers, five of which have led to shooting incidents in the last month.
“The traffic unit is the primary group to enforce road rage incidents in the city of Dallas,” Dallas Deputy
Chief Michael Igo told Dallas Express. “However, road rage incidents are not limited to just freeways but can occur in residential neighborhoods as well.”
In one of the recent road rage confrontations that resulted in a shooting, a car with children inside was bullied off the freeway by an aggressive motorist who had somehow been provoked by the driver of the car with children. Once the road rage driver blocked the car off a one-way street, he was then shot by driver he had run off the freeway.
Children are frequently in the cars that become the targets of road-ragers, and Dallas police told WFAA News that the victims are often clueless as to why a driver has become so hostile, and sometimes violent, toward them.
One Dallas family had to grieve the loss of their father after he was fatally shot by another driver in February, an incident that Dallas police believes was caused by road rage. However, with many road-ragers going faceless in the shortage of law enforcement dedicated to aggressive drivers, the man’s family was left without answers for months after his death.
Igo explained that the plan to approach road rage will stay fluid as the department learns how to best address the incidents. He said law enforcement will use an “all-hands-on approach” to the traffic unit’s operations, including public messaging through the department’s Public Information Office, collaborative enforcement with other agencies and the use of unmarked vehicles to increase enforcement.
According to Igo, the times of the operation will “change based on the trends of road rage incidents.” The police are facing a shortage in personnel available for the task, and currently plan to deploy 12-20 officers across the city once a month for the special patrol.
“There is no road rage law in Texas,” Igo said.
Often an aggressive driver commits a Texas penal code offense, either as reckless driving or vehicular manslaughter, but increasing the threat of consequence for road rage drivers is important.
“The threat of penalty, increased public awareness and enforcement, and legislation to support stronger penalties, can be a deterrent for this type of aggressive driving,” Igo said.
A popular theory as to why Dallas is experiencing an uptick in road rage incidents points to the droves of employees returning to the workplace after a year and a half of being remote due to COVID-19. With more drivers on the street, traffic becomes congested and stressed drivers become hostile.
“Additionally, more people are commuting on roadways than ever before in history,” Igo said. “This congestion has led to higher tensions, increased driver interaction, and impatience by many drivers leading to aggressive driving, accidents, assaults and even shooting incidents.”
Although commuter traffic is increasing, it may not return to pre-COVID-19 levels soon. According to USA Today, a minimum of 25% of the nation’s working class that were working remotely during the pandemic will be returning or has returned to the office. Others are arguing for a hybrid plan with part-time remote work and part-time office work, while 40% of all Americans say they would keep working from home permanently if it were up to them.
Igo encourages victims of road rage to not provoke the offenders, call 911 and give as many details about the driver and vehicle as possible, and head toward a police station if the aggressive driver is following.