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Road Rage Turns Deadly


Road rage leading to terrible accidents is an all too common headline. Consider these examples: The driver of a Toyota Highlander calls 911 to report that a pick up truck is "tailgating" it, and aggressively following it. The caller also reports that the pick up truck is flashing its lights on and off. Then, while on the phone with the 911 dispatcher, the caller reports that the pick up truck has hit its Highlander, and keeps hitting it. The caller says that he cannot stop, and then reports that the pick truck is attempting to pass him. A huge crash can be heard on the 911 tape as the pick up truck smashes into an oncoming SUV at approximately 70 mph. The driver of the pick up truck and the SUV are killed, and the passengers of the SUV sustain life-threatening injuries.

In an incident just outside of downtown Las Vegas, Nevada, Tammy Meyers had just finished giving her 15 year old daughter a driving lesson when she had an encounter with a driver of another car. Meyers took her daughter home, and then went back out with her 22 year old son--who took his firearm with him--to look for the driver and the car that she had previously encountered. At this point stories diverge, but Meyers and the other driver, Erich Nowsch, 19 years old, did meet, and when Meyers went home for the second time, a gun battle between Nowsch and Meyer's son erupted in front of Meyers' home. Meyers was shot in the head by Nowsch; she died two days later.


An unbelievable 1,500 people are injured or killed in road rage incidents each year. Reports of aggressive driving episodes have increased approximately 7% each year since 1990, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The reasons for the reported episodes are typically: (1) "he cut me off;" or (2) "she wouldn't let me pass:" or (3) "nobody gives me the finger;" or (4) "he took my parking space." These reasons are really what are known as "triggers," and in addition to those already mentioned, the following are cited by drivers as circumstances/actions that tend to trigger road rage:

(5) feelings of being rushed;

(6) seeing other drivers who are speeding;

(7) being stuck in traffic;

(8) tailgating;

(9) changing lanes without using a signal;

(10)honking the horn;

(11)angry and obscene gestures from other drivers.

Of course, not everyone who experiences these triggers develops road rage. One reason may be personality: some people do not have a "road rage personality." On the other hand, a Type A, competitive person who always has to have everything his or her way, and who tends to take what other drivers do as a personal slight is the kind of personality that can be easily triggered into road rage. Male drivers ages 16-25 years old are particularly prone to road rage; note that both Myers' son (22) and Nowsch (19) fit into that category.


Road stress is unavoidable in the congested streets and fast-moving highways of today. Many people have long commutes to and from work everyday during rush hour, which means being stuck in traffic and stressed about being late everyday. To keep this road stress from turning into road rage, the following tips are recommended:

1. Listen to books on tape or music;

2. Give yourself plenty of time to get somewhere;

3. Don't drive when you are angry and overtired;

4. When driving on a long trip, take breaks;

5. Try to plan trips and driving to avoid rush hour and high congestion times;


This last tip is important, because unfortunately the combination of road rage and guns is deadly; the death of Tammy Meyers is just one example.


If you have been involved in an incident of road rage, contact Dave Thomas at The Thomas Law Firm for a free evaluation of your case.

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