There is no denying that this country was built on hard work, whether it was plowing fields in the heartland from sunup to sundown or building railroads from coast to coast. Granted, such labor-intensive occupations are held by a much smaller segment of society these days, but our lives may very well be much more stressful now than ever before. The demand to succeed, whether it is working for one of Florida’s many sugar companies or selling beachfront properties, ensures that our need to work and fulfill our other obligations is just as taxing as it was being behind a plow. South Florida is one of the fastest growing areas in the country, and it may often seem that the volume of traffic that results from such growth makes it increasingly difficult to accomplish those goals. Whether this growth is the result of people moving here from other states, from expanding families, or from those who immigrate here, the population growth is undeniable. When you add the stress of everyday living to an extreme population density, tempers can get short and many of us can become surly and less accepting of the actions of others.
This is especially true when it comes to driving. I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t get annoyed when another driver cuts them off or does something else that is thought of as inconsiderate or dangerous while driving. With some of the busiest and most congested roadways in the State of Florida being located here, traffic problems seem to have a particularly negative effect on impacting the emotions of others. This can result in incidents of road rage that vary from the relatively innocuous, but often inflammatory, act of blowing the horn at someone to acts of violence. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear about these events occurring on a daily basis. One example of this kind of violence is the subject of a current newspaper article.
A 63-year-old man was recently driving when he came to an intersection where a car was stopped at a stop sign. When the stopped car didn’t proceed in the timeframe the man expected it should, he started blowing his horn because he felt it was blocking traffic. Obviously, this was an annoyance to him and repeatedly blowing his horn was his response to that annoyance. What he failed to realize is that two men occupying the stopped car had even less patience than he did. The honking prompted these occupants to exit their vehicle, approach the elderly man’s car, and start hitting the passenger-side window with a handgun. The driver was then shot in the chest. Fortunately, he survived the incident and has since been released from the hospital.This is just one illustration of how impatience can quickly spiral out of control leading to road rage. There is no justification for the man to be shot, NONE; however, a little patience on his part may have prevented the incident entirely. I am sure he was just trying to get from Point A to Point B, but he had no idea that the men he was honking at had engaged in a prior incident with someone else and then went on to commit other crimes that day before they were arrested. You never know who you are dealing with, what they may be experiencing, or what they may be capable of doing.
Aggressive driving, which often is the cause of road rage incidents, is usually considered by law enforcement to be more than one action exhibited by a driver. Although Florida state law prevents law enforcement officials from addressing aggressive driving specifically, there are numerous laws on the books that can be applied when road rage incidents occur. Reckless driving, an improper lane change, speeding, and following too closely are all traffic violations that often happen when aggressive drivers get behind the wheel, and a law enforcement officer can use these actions to write traffic tickets. These traffic violations range in severity from non-criminal to criminal and can result in hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in fines and penalties. This is especially true when you consider that if a cop sees you driving aggressively, the fines and penalties of the multitude of violations that he can write you traffic citations for are compounded. If you do a quick internet search on road rage incidents in South Florida, you will quickly obtain multiple “hits.” In reading these stories, they are often slanted in favor of the driver who suffered the most, but if you look beneath the surface, you may come to realize that it is seldom just the actions of one party that cause road rage. Of course, it is virtually impossible to know if these incidents are more common now or if media saturation is responsible for us hearing about them more.
Aggression is a primal emotion that all of us feel at one point or another, and it can serve a valuable purpose. It’s how we make it to the top of the corporate ladder, how we protect our children when they are in danger, or how people in extreme circumstances can exhibit extraordinary abilities. Getting behind the wheel of a 2,000 lb. vehicle; however, is not the time to let it rear its head. Driving is a tremendous responsibility. We each need to remember that it takes very little to lose control of a car and hurt or kill someone. If someone cuts you off or tailgates, instead of making the leap to, “He’s a jerk,” or “I’ll show him,” try to think that maybe he is unaware of the slight that you feel he committed. We can often get so caught up in our busy lives that we may not be paying as much attention to our driving as we should. We have all been guilty of cutting someone off or otherwise engaging in driving behaviors that tick off someone else, but these small infractions are not worth someone being hurt or killed over.
If you are issued a traffic ticket for reckless driving, especially in conjunction with other violations, give us a call for a free consultation 967-954-9888. The cop who issues the traffic ticket may very well be unjustly targeting you for aggressive driving, and we can help you sort it out. We have a 99% success rate with either getting our clients’ traffic tickets dismissed or in having the charges reduced, and we would like to help you, as well.