CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An NBC Charlotte Defenders investigation is taking a deep dive into what’s behind a major danger for every driver.
The road rage epidemic has led to everything from heated arguments to shootings in the Queen City. Now, NBC Charlotte is taking an inside look at why drivers are so angry and whether there’s a cure for road rage.
The next time you get behind the wheel, think about what makes you mad. Is it traffic or something else? NBC Charlotte talked to one woman in an anger management class who learned to control her road rage the hard way.
Road rage is happening everywhere, and everyone has a reason: A family feud, a boss, or just a bad day.
RELATED: Mom says she's thankful her kids weren't in the car when a bullet burst through her windshield
"You name it, it was happening," said Vernell who was attending an anger management class. "Sometimes it (anger) creeps up when you don't want to."
Vernell decided to take the class to deal with her anger, which she says led to her own road rage. She told NBC Charlotte she tried to fight another driver who cut her off a few years ago.
"She was using hand gestures, I was using hand gestures, and I'm like pull over, pull over," Vernell said. "I actually attempted to pull over, but thank God nothing came out of that."
North Carolina is the 5th worst in the country for aggressive drivers, according to a survey by Gas Buddy. In the Queen City, the victims are sometimes moms like Ashley Black.
"(Expletive) I'm looking at a gun in my face," Black previously told NBC Charlotte.
Other times, the victims are dads like on a 911 call obtained by NBC Charlotte.
"He shot through my baby's window," the dad told the dispatcher in the 911 call.
In that case, Jonathan Williams pleaded guilty to shooting into the dad’s car. He claims he was running late to a psychiatrist appointment when the SUV boxed him in between two tractor-trailers.
"I panicked and was scared, to be honest," Williams previously said to the judge in court. "Honestly, I just want to sincerely apologize."
"A lot of people have not dealt with their anger," said therapist Cornelia Pringle who leads the anger management class.
Pringle teaches people how to find a cure for rage.
"The only person we can change is ourselves," Pringle said during the class.
Pringle recommended people think positive thoughts, share emotions with a network of people, and deep breathing.
"Pull over, take some deep breathes," Pringle said.
In fact, shallow breaths will only exacerbate anger, according to mentalhelp.net. However, at least 15 minutes of slow, deliberate deep breathing slows down the heart rate and relieves some muscle tension, too.
"A lot of times we do not breathe, you think you're breathing, but we don't take enough deep breaths throughout the day," Pringle told NBC Charlotte.
Vernell said she’s learned lessons from the class that help her control her anger and road rage.
"I know exactly what to do," Vernell said. "It’s not worth it, one second can ruin your whole life."
Pringle said if someone has persistent anger despite taking the steps she recommends, they should seek counseling for help.