By Rosaland Tyler
New Journal and Guide
Although Virginia ranks No. 4 in violent road rage incidents, aggressive driving is a crime, not a game in Virginia.
In late August, for example, one man was arrested and another man ended up in the hospital following a road rage incident in Fairfax County, Va.
The two men were driving a black Honda and a white Honda while going east on I-66. The driver in the black Honda reportedly threw something at the other car. The driver in the white Honda then began shooting at the nlack Honda. Both cars soon pulled over to the side of the interstate near mile marker 50.
The road rage incident ended with one driver in handcuffs. The other driver was taken to an area hospital with a gunshot wound but was expected to survive.
In another recent road rage incident near Richmond County, Va., one person was shot and killed in mid-August.
Both drivers were headed west on Route 360 near Sabine Hall Road when the shots were fired. The bullets killed an unidentified female passenger sitting in the back seat.
Police described the suspects as “young adults” who had just graduated high school and said the deceased victim was about the same age.
In other words, road rage is not rare, according to a newly released Forbes Advisor report which showed about 50 percent of the Virginia drivers (who participated in the study), said they have experienced another driver exiting a vehicle to yell or fight (50.5 percent). They have also experienced drivers honking at them in frustration (78.5 percent) or experienced drivers who were yelling, insulting, cursing or making threats (89.5 percent).
Forbes researchers surveyed 10,000 licensed drivers and compared all 50 states across nine key metrics. They found that five of the top 10 states with the most confrontational drivers are in the South, including West Virginia, Virginia, Oklahoma, Alabama and Texas.
The problem is 554 people were shot in road rage incidents across the U.S. last year, and 141 of these gunshot victims died, according to a recent AAA Mid-Atlantic report.
Every 16 hours, someone is either hurt or killed by road rage violence, the AAA Mid-Atlantic report noted.
Officials say ignore someone tailing your car, weaving in and out of lanes recklessly, shouting and flashing obscene gestures. Try to disengage. Don’t make eye contact. Let the driver pass you.
If the situation escalates, call 911. If you’re close to home, it’s best to take a detour to the nearest fire or police station; you don’t want the driver following you home and seeing where you live.
Finally, remember aggressive driving is a crime in Virginia. Aggressive driving is a Class 2 misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $1000 and up to 6 months in jail. However, aggressive driving with the intent to injure another person is a Class 1 misdemeanor, according to state code § 46.2-868.1.