"Road rage" cases hard to prosecute
A road rage assault on an Indianapolis street led to a police investigation, but may not lead to charges being filed.
The case raises questions about how hard it can be to get dangerous aggressive drivers off the road. It may come down to what the police officer sees and how well the victim's story holds together.
A Hoosier motorist shared home video with Eyewitness News of an aggressive driver cutting off one car, then targeting the car with the video camera when he realized he was caught on tape.
"This is very dangerous to the public," says Indiana State Police Sgt. Richard Myers. "These things have a way of escalating."
That happened Monday afternoon at 34th Street and Lafayette Road. Police say one motorist admits he was texting while driving. Another driver, angry about that, allegedly cut him off.
When both cars stopped, the angry driver got out and slapped the texter in the face, according to police reports.
The texter was lucky, because, Myers says, sometimes "confrontations begin and they think it's just going to be fisticuffs but then suddenly it turns deadly."
But road rage or aggressive driving can be hard to prosecute. The last two years' tickets for road rage or aggressive driving dropped from about 18 to nine each year.
"You have to have three different criteria to meet the aggressive driving ticket," Myers said.
A police officer has to see three of nine aggressive moves, like following too closely,
unsafe operation, overtaking a vehicle on the right by driving off the roadway, unsafe stopping or slowing down, unnecessary sounding of the horn, failure to yield, failure to obey traffic controls, driving at unsafe speed and repeatedly flashing headlights.
The good news, Myers says, is that dangerous drivers stopped on a single offense like speeding may then be deterred from any other violations. That could mean no escalation of roadway violence.
If you see a dangerous driving incident on the road, call 911 right away. Get the description of the vehicle, number of people inside, and the license plate number if you can safely read it.
But don't engage the other person in aggressive driving.
"Disengage from the situation. Get away," Myers said.