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'People are doing stupid things': Here's how to avoid road rage confrontations as incidents continue to rise

Arizona is on pace to have more than 500 potential road rage incidents in 2021.

PHOENIX — Three drivers were sent to the hospital in the last 48 hours after three separate potential road rage incidents.

The shootings happened in three cities across the Valley, contributing to a year with a rising number of potential road rage incidents.

“It shouldn’t be happening, but it's happening," Alberto Gutier, the director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety said. “People are doing stupid things, sorry, stupid.”

So far in 2021, there have been 455 potential road rage incidents. In all of 2020, there were 503.

“People have to understand the dangers of it, the consequences,” Gutier said. “What do you gain by pulling a gun and shooting someone. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Gutier said people are not de-escalating road rage situations. When coupled with more people on the road speeding, tempers can flare. 

“When someone is in a bad mood you will normally see erratic behavior,” Maria Wojtczak, owner of Driver MBA said.

Wojtczak has three steps to avoid road rage situations:

  1. Be aware of others
  2. Don't engage
  3. Find an escape route

“The first step is to be aware of them [other drivers],” Wojtczak said.

Second, Wojtczak said to not engage. Do not wave or try to talk with the irritated driver. Most importantly, stay behind the problem, let them drive off.

“Never speed up. Because they might engage and speed up and catch up. If you’re behind them they can’t engage with you," Wojtczak said.

Finally, if they are sticking around you, try to locate an escape route.

“If you are on a freeway is there an exit. If you are on surface streets, can you go to a public parking lot?” Wojtczak said.

Wojtczak said if someone is following you, do not go home. Instead, head to a public place or police station.

Both Wojtczak and Gutier said the key is to stay calm and de-escalate. It can be easier said than done but will prevent disputes from potentially turning deadly.

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