In the wake of a Phoenix shooting that left a 10-year-old girl dead, the head of Arizona Department of Public Safety is providing advice for drivers who find themselves in a road rage situation.
Drivers who suspect they might have angered someone should attempt to defuse the situation with a simple apology.
“It’s happened to all of us. We’ve inadvertently cut somebody off and really irritated somebody,” Director Frank Milstead said. “The first thing is just to wave and look at them or say, ‘Sorry.’ But if that doesn’t work and they continue (trailing you), I would say to ignore them, change lanes, exit the road you’re on, find a populated place to go if they continue to follow you.”
When faced with a point where you must pull into a populated area in order to escape a disputation, all proper etiquette can be disregarded.
“Not only would I not park in a parking spot, I would go up front and immediately alert people around me that there’s a problem,” he said. “And so what, you don’t know any of these people? If this guy drives on and everyone looks at you like, ‘Wow, that was weird. I wonder what’s going on with Pamela.’ At least you knew you were safe and you brought other people’s attention to what was going on.”
Last week, a 20-year-old man was taken into custody for allegedly shooting and killing 10-year-old Summer Brown in an apparent road rage incident. Joshua Gonzalez is accused of shooting Summer in her family’s driveway near 39th Avenue and Roosevelt Street while she, her father, mother and sister sat in their car.
He was booked into jail on one count of first-degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault.
But Summer’s death isn’t the only one linked to road rage in the Phoenix area this year, as a 16-year-old Glendale high school student was shot and killed in February.
“You have to go back to the mentality of the people on the road, that apparently everybody is a tough guy when they’re in a 5,000-pound automobile,” Milstead said. “We’ve all seen those people, and then they put everyone else at risk on the road because they want to return the favor to you and cut you off on purpose, run you out of your lane, something like that. The key is just to get out of that activity and move on to go someplace else.”