NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nashville ranks seventh in the nation for road rage incidents, according to the Circuit Team, a route planning software company.
Lately, angry drivers being aggressive behind the wheel are taking road rage to a whole new, scary level, and it’s happening more often on our city roads and interstates.
“We do see quite a few calls that do come in that are in reference to road rage, and that’s something we take very seriously,” said Lt. Bill Miller, public information officer for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
Metro police said 22-year-old Caleb Harney was driving a Nissan Altima when another driver in a Chevrolet Camaro cut him off. The Camaro slammed on the brakes, causing the two to crash. That’s when Harney said a passenger, later identified as Olabode Enitan, 30, of Nashville, got out of the Camaro, started yelling, and grabbed him.
Police said Harney pulled a gun out and shot and killed Enitan. Harney has since been charged with criminal homicide, according to police.
Miller said ending this is a top priority for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.
“We understand the consequences of road rage. We understand that it can escalate extremely quickly to where you have physical confrontations. You can have property damage between vehicles, and you can even actually have a death that may come from somebody taking a weapon or maybe using their vehicle as a weapon,” he said.
In a separate road rage incident, Metro police are looking for the person who shot and killed Chris Spaunhorst while driving on I-24 on Christmas Day. According to police, Spaunhorst was heading home to Greenbrier when he was shot.
“If you are a person that drives aggressively, if you are that person who’s engaged in road rage, just know that if we get a call that you are driving recklessly and you’re putting drivers’ lives at danger, we will come find you, we will track you down, and we will prosecute to the full extent of the law,” Miller said.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol is partnering with agencies across Middle Tennessee in an effort to pump the brakes on road rage.
“What we have found in road rage incidents is time is seriously of the essence, because it happens sometimes extremely quickly and the aggressive driver, he or she can dart off the exit ramp and be gone before we can get there,” Miller said.
Their advice — be a good witness, have a passenger take photos or videos, get their license plate number, anything to help them put aggressive drivers behind bars.
“There’s no person immune from being the next victim of a road rage incident, so if you say, ‘Hey, it’s not going to happen to me,’ it very well could. Again, treat others as you want to be treated, with respect and courtesy. Give yourself distance. Do not engage and blow the horn, give finger gestures, or yell at someone, because you do not know what that is going to maybe encourage that driver to do,” Miller said.
One behavioral health specialist said if you find yourself the target of aggression or gunfire while driving, the reality is you don’t know how angry the other person is or what they’re capable of doing. The best thing people can do is not engage.
Know that others will drive illegally, inconsiderately, or even incomprehensibly.
“Try to stay calm, and remember that the person at the other end of your drive is way more important than the person in the lane next to you who’s acting a fool,” Dr. Aaron Brinen said.
Brinen is an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and said it all comes down to you to de-escalate and remove yourself from that kind of situation.
“The best thing in any situation again is always staying calm and paying attention to how stressed you are in the situation, and remind yourself that while it’s going to feel good in the short run to respond back, in the long run that could make the problem that much worse, and we don’t know how the other person is going to react, we can only be in control of how we react,” Brinen said.