Ever since the Lone Star State was founded in 1836 after a war with Mexico, we have been famous for being a gun-loving and sometimes dangerous place to live. Here in Fort Worth, shoot-outs in the Stockyards were common and Butch Cassidy and his gang hung out in “Hell’s Half Acre” (now downtown) when they weren’t robbing banks. There’s a reason our sports teams are named the Rangers, Cowboys, and Mavericks. We were the epicenter of the wild West — and still proud of it.
Today we in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are fortunately better known for our gracious hospitality, vibrant culture, booming economy, and numerous universities. But lately we have experienced an alarming resurgence of the wild West mentality on our highways.
As a personal injury lawyer, this scares me. Every week I read more and more news reports about driving altercations that escalated into violence.
Statistics show that over 1,500 people are injured are killed each year as a result of these crazed drivers. A study showed that DFW had the second highest number of road rage crashes in the United States. What in the world is going on out there?
Two weeks ago, an angry driver was convicted of murder for the road rage shooting in Denton of 21-year-old University of North Texas student Sara Mutschlechner. A young former Marine shot the young woman early on New Year’s morning in 2016 after a verbal confrontation. The man was sentenced to 44 years in prison.
Last week, a 49-year-old man was arrested for pointing a gun at another driver on I-35 south of Dallas who he thought was riding too close to him. The man was arrested but released on a small $1,000 bond.
On Monday, a driver fired at another driver in Denton. The aggressor fled the scene as the shot driver veered into a fence of an auto repair shop.
Sadly, 26 year-old Brittany Daniel did not survive a shooting on I-30 in Arlington last year. The man who shot her was convicted of murder several weeks ago and was sentenced to 50 years in jail.
Other road rage episodes and their causes were just analyzed here in the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
I’m glad the two men were convicted of murder, not lesser charges. This shows our criminal courts recognize what a serious problem road rage has become.
Road rage incidents, particularly involving guns, have skyrocketed. A study published earlier this year found that these armed confrontations have more than doubled between 2014 and 2016. At least 620 road rage incidents involving a firearm occurred in 2016. With more than one million gun owners licensed to carry in the state, Texas is a hotbed for firearm use during road rage confrontations.Firearms can quickly escalate a heated confrontation into deadly violence. But angry drivers can also cause an accident by tailgating, purposefully bumping another car, cutting off another driver or distracted a motorist who is the victim of irate honking, words and gestures.
According to an AAA Foundation report, a high number of drivers have displayed these acts of rage during the previous year.
Learn about how to steer clear of a road rage incident here.