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Defend Thyself Personal Defense

Road Rage leads to Assault: What can we learn?

by George Wehby   |  October 12th, 2011 36

According to reports, police were called to a Vienna, Va.,  Subway restaurant for two individuals that were involved in a fight. Upon arriving on the scene, law enforcement were informed that the incident started with road rage, turned into a verbal exchange and, finally, fists flew.

Gregory Hise, who is said to have followed the other individual into the Subway after the having trouble with him on the road earlier in the evening, was issued a summons for assault.

The incident ended with a rather mundane punishment, but a situation like this could have gone very differently for a victim if an enraged individual had more sinister intentions in mind.

I can say without a doubt I have done some not-so-perfect driving in my time behind the wheel.  I will say during those times other drivers were probably not happy with me. In all the cases, I made it a point to keep an eye the other driver to see if they were following me or not. I also watched to see if they were scrambling for anything like a firearm in their enraged state. I never knew if they wanted to turn my lapse in judgment into a harmful situation.

In a situation similar to that of the article, I suggest remaining aware of the other vehicle. Pay attention if they are following you. Make note of their movements in the vehicle, like reaching for a weapon or preparing one. If you suspect they are following you, make it a point to drive away from your destination and then back to confirm your suspicions. Then lead them to local law enforcement, but do not get out and confront them.  Regardless of how prepared you might be,  they are on the action end of the spectrum and you the reaction.  It is better to let the police handle them.

Have you ever been in a similar situation?  What course of action would you take?

George Wehby

About George Wehby

Wehby's personal defense experience includes US Marine Corps Infantry, White House NCO, Presidential Marine Sentry, decorated street police officer in Prince Georges County, MD, US Department of Homeland Security, Federal Air Marshall and professional firearms trainer for Triple Canopy specializing in handguns and concealment. His experience also includes more than 25 years in Martial Arts and is currently a Mixed Martial Arts Instructor. He is a Black Belt Instructor of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (under Tony Passos), Black Belt in Nisei Kito Ryu Jiu-jitsu (under Sergio Decasien) and also a Black Belt in Goju Karate (under Bob Roach).

  • T.D. Honeycutt

    I had a guy cut me off in traffic once, and when I pulled alongside expecting an apology, he threatened to kill me. He even got out of his vehicle at the light, but his girlfriend was able to restrain him verbally. This bottom-feeder from the gene pool pointed what looked to be a snubnose handgun at me, but in fact turned out to be a cellular telephone. I had a split second to shoot or not shoot, and I gave this guy the benefit of the doubt, but only because he was reaching over his girlfriend in the car, and she was in my direct line of fire. She didn't deserve this, although she accepts the jack wagon for all his faults, obviously.

    All the while, I had my hand on the S&W .357 Magnum that is my car gun (a good topic, George, hint hint). I did not shoot him (that's what the police officer said he would do when I spoke to him for a police report).

    You can never be too careful with today's drivers and all the distractions in the vehicles – phones, loud stereos, Gameboys, beer bottles, AK-47s.

  • Lucas

    I had an individual cut me off and Instead of letting it go I returned the favour and stopped we exchanged words and then blows then the police got involved and arrested the other individual. Once we had calmed down I decided not to press charges and we apologised, shook hands and walked away. Till this day I have bad dreams about this.

  • Tory II

    I own an AK. It's my favorite plinking rifle. I always try to ignore bad drivers or mistakes made by other drivers, and I expect other drivers to ignore my mistakes.

    When I was towing my 8,000 pound boat, a fellow on a motorcycle who I cut off (at a very slow speed) flipped me his middle finger. I ignored him. In Illinois only the police politicians and criminals can carry guns. A handgun is really only suitable for self defense.

    • Ryan

      Really random comment there Tory…What does your AK ownership and Illinois gun laws have to do with you ignoring bad drivers?

  • NN

    Yes, I ignored them and they went away after they appeared to think I was totally intimidated. But, still not sure what I did wrong to get them started.

  • AJ

    For all you know the other guy is a borderline serial killer who is driving badly because he is late for his court-ordered weekly anger management class… Do you really think PO-ing this guy is going to make your day any better? Give the other driver a break, we all screw up behind the wheel once in a while.

  • Josh

    Some people are just garbage, wave, yell an apology and continue on driving. Remain alert like the article suggests because you don't want the creep following you home where your wife and children are. And remain in your vehicle, at least there you have some safety and cover in case this jerk decides to do something he will regret. I run into people on a daily basis who get all bent out of shape about something, best thing to do is just keep your eyes on the road and hope they disappear, but keep your hand on your pistol in the situation where they don't. Stay safe and always vigilant!

  • Bob

    I live in L.A. the land of road rage. My rules are simple DON'T react. Don't retaliate. Don't fail to appologize even if you think it was not your fault.Don't follow. Don't yell. Always carry your cell phone and have 911 on speed dial. Lastly, leave your gun holstered unless the other guy draws his and you can't use evasive manuvers to avoid a confrontation.

    You just may save your life by remaining calm and thinking the situation through before taking action.

    Best regards,

    Bob in L.A.and stuck in traffic on the freeway every day.

  • Bruce

    I think it is going to get worse before it gets better. More and more of us are messing with our iPhones and Droids that we tend to swerve a little when we are driving. Try to keep cool!

  • Alan

    A few years back, with my oldest son in the car, I had a mental lapse and pulled out in front of a car doing close to 55 mph. Instantly, I realized I had nearly killed three people. The other driver, a healthy, 30-something man in a nice pickup truck laid on his horn then swung over beside me. I was so ashamed of my action that as he pulled alongside ready to do God-knows-what, I made a "pistol" with my left index finger and thumb, put it to my head, and while mouthing the words "I'm sorry," I pretended to shoot myself in the temple.

    The guy I had nearly killed went from nearly uncontrolled rage to laughing in a matter of seconds. He waved and pulled away. I was still shaken, but relieved that tragedy had been averted, twice.

    It was a great lesson for me and my son. It's often hard for us men to drop our ego and claim our screw-ups, but there's no doubt that apologizing for doing something stupid is the quickest way to avoid road rage. And since that day, I've tried to be forgiving of others who make similar mistakes.

    Also, knowing I'm armed makes me a lot calmer and more forgiving. If all your shooting is your mouth and the bird, I can smile and say, "Have a nice day."

  • Hiram Davis

    Just give them the finger and drive on.

  • Greg H.

    I commute to the D.C. metro area and can state that without a doubt, D.C. area drivers are the most impatient, selfish, self-centered, arrogant, inconsiderate and obnoxious drivers in the country. Every day on the road there is a source of stress. It's no wonder that D.C. has the highest auto insurance rates in the country; it's a distinction they've earned in spades. And, don't get me started on D.C. bicyclists, who look down their noses at drivers and act as though the traffic laws do not apply to them. Rant mode off for now.

  • Richard

    A few years ago, I was driving through the narrow streets of an old town and was late for an appointment. Inadvertently I hit the side mirror of a car with my side mirror. The guy inside instantly rolled down his window and started insulted me. I rolled down the window myself and just said : “ Really sorry about that, I thought there was enough room. Will be more careful next time. “. Obviously the guy was expecting insults as well so he just stared at me with his mouth half open. But by then, we were blocking the narrow street and a car just behind the guy starting beeping. Guess that did it for him and he was just looking for a fight. As I drove away, I saw the guy and the impatient driver starting a fight. By that time I was already far because I was still late and could not be bothered. But it goes to show that people are just out-there looking to put on a fight. Imbeciles, they are called.

    • Ryan

      So it was a hit and run then??? You just left?

  • Chemiker

    I am a firm believed in the addage that "The best fight is the one that you avoid." The idiot may get lucky and kill you or you may get unlucky and kill him. There are too many crazy folk out there.

  • LarryV

    You have to be careful even blowing the horn. Had a guy run a yield sign and almost run into my front fender. All I did was barely hit the horn. He slammed on his brakes, reached down and picked up a large revolver, held it where I could see it, and put it down on the drivers side seat. Then staring at me in his mirror, he started flipping me a bird and screaming at me. I tried to just go around the guy, but was too close behind him and a car was behind me. Now was decision time. I had a fully loaded Glock 19 close at hand. Without doing anything to further piss this guy off, I simply was ready in case he got out of the car. Luckily, he didn't. Finally after flipping me off again he very slowly pulled away. People like this don't seem to consider the other person may be armed too. I had the drop on the idiot. He was a large guy in a small car and by the time he crawled out of the car with his gun, I could have unloaded ten rounds in him. Now I try to never even touch the horn. It's simply not worth it. Especially the legal part.

  • Jason

    After driving in rush hour traffic for nearly 10 years, I have learned that leaving an extra car length between you and those in front of you not only saves gas, but prevents a lot of close calls with people trying to cut in. If 5 cars use the extra space I leave in front of me, I only lose about 20 seconds of commute time. No big deal when you look at the big picture. If someone is in that much of a hurry and wants to cut me off, I say go ahead, it will catch up with them in the future.

  • Tom

    You are all correct, smile, say your sorry etc.

    But….it's really hard not to want to jump out & kick the crap out of some jerk who just cut you off & forced you to do evasive maneuvers! Especially if you are a semi crazy Marine & always armed.

  • steve-in-ga

    i just smile and wave. they never expect that.

    while they puzzle it over, i drive away. so simple.

  • Fred

    Just ignore these idiots . One night, very late, I surprised a dude who was driving very recklessly and endangering many other people. I pulled out my loaded and chambered sig sauer p220, pointed it at his head and asked the punk if he wanted to die. He was helpless and probably pissed his pants. He responded " I don't.want to die". I then said. " that's good and stop driving like an asshole. Also. If I see u endanger people like this again, I will put a hollow point in your head". I bet he has never driven the same again. FYI. That was 10 years ago. Now I just laugh when people cut me off and do the finger to the head gesture like another commenter when I mistakenly cut someone else off. Bottom line, don't drive like an asshole.

    • KEEF

      I hope your kidding. Because that is about the most reckless thing I have ever read about. If your life wasn’t in danger and somebody was driving like an “asshole”, why not take the license plate number and call the cops? People CCW is for self defense. Not to threaten douchbags/

    • Ryan

      You are an idiot Fred.

    • Jeff

      Yeah Fred, I'm going to side with the others on this one: You're an idiot Rambo, wannabe. It's people like you that strengthen the anti-gun crowd's argument against us. Don't do us any favors.

  • Mark

    The first couple of shootings in Texas from the (then) newly issued concealed handgun license holders stemmed from road rage incidents. Partially as a result, flipping off someone is an offense in Texas (not well enforced but stressed in the CHL classes). I am a very good driver, using my turn signals, etc. But we all make mistakes. When I make a mistake I will wave and try to signal that I am sorry. When someone does it to me, I will flash my lights or give the horn a tap, but then I try to forget about it. My major pet peeve though is people who cut in line – speeding up in a fast lane to dive into traffic stacked at an exit – this causes a dangerous situation and inconvienances the people who are obeying the law and waiting. I will, to the extent that I can so relatively safely, block them from doing it. Typically, it's Hummers and luxuary car drivers who do it and I don't worry much about them, but if they make a big deal about it, I will keep my eye on them and I will use my phone's camera to shoot a picture or video. I know I should just let it go but I can't…I have an almost pathological reaction to line cutters. Must have been my Navy years.

    • Dave

      Right there with you. I consider myself a very good, patient driver, but I absolutely can not stand people who think they are too good to wait in line like the rest of us. Though I would never threaten anyone with my concealed weapon. If it leaves the holster, all avenues have been exhausted and it's gonna be fired.

  • Buck

    I started to change lanes onto another truck, but noticed and returned to my lane before hitting him. He got irrate and was yelling and threatening. At the next red light he got out and started looking for something under his seat and around the cab. I was not carrying at the time, but I did have a 3000lb bullet to through at him and was ready to do so. Fortunately, he got back in his truck and left. I now carry concealed when ever I can.

  • Ramses

    Had a similar situation. The other guy followed me and on an intersection he step out of his vehicle and tried to open my car driver's door finding only a Glock 27 muzzle pointing at his head. It was just a reflect. Next time I could have avoided the situation if my state of alertness/awareness were higher. There were two persons on the other car and the possibilities of me being on the opposite position were possible. From that time I never forget my drill sergeant: "Stay alert, stay alive".

  • Aaron

    Does this test post actually work?

  • Pat

    I had an OH Sh!t moment, I tend to drive on the faster side and when people drive 5-10 miles under the limit it bugs the crap out of me, so I tend to tailgate. Apprently I was driving to close for some yahoo’s comfort, already late to pick up my girlfriend from work I got off the highway on the same street as the old beat up pickup truck in front of me and a few turns towards my girlfiend’s work place coinsided with his route to where ever. It was late at night on a back road when captin crack head slammed on his breakes and jumped out of his truck and started threating to kill me. It was so sudden and unexspectd I killed my car from slaming on the breaks without using the clutch. Apparentlly he thought I was “on to him” well he was still half in the cab I couldn’t see what he was doing but I saw a larger object being pulled from behind his seats in the cab, I couldn’t tell if it was a crowbar or a rifle since there were no lighs except my headlights and his dim dome light. I had just that very day bought a New 9mm Taurus 24/7 OSS (flame if you will but I love that gun) anyways durring his rant and digging through the cab of his truck I had enough time to unlock it’s case and load 3 rounds before he started making a move twards my disbled car, I have never been so sure I was going to die, Even had I have had enough time to fully load (concealed carry isn’t legal here yet) I would have still doubted my chances on living throuh the night. Sure as everything he musta herd my slide snap shut as I slamed the clip in chambering a round, still yelling threats he stopped advancing twards my stalled call. It was then I saw that he had what looked like a child’s .22 rifle or possiblly a BB gun even. The only thing I said was “you don’t want to die trying, I’m sorry but I’m not looking for trouble” as I ducked down in my seat as much as I could well still keeping the man in sight. I had my gun out the window, witch in all honestly would have been damn hard to aim but I just wanted to get the poing accross. It was only a matter of seconds but it seemed like forever until he got back in his truck and I felt so lucky. I’m sure my tailgaiting and his parinoia caused the whole thing but it just goes to show you, you never know EXACTLY who it is your driving will erk just a lil to much…

  • Josh

    I am a professional truck driver with over 22 years of experience. I have been in 49 of 50 States and 5 Canadian Provinces. Good an bad drivers are everywhere. As a long haul driver I have been following the ongoing argument about the legality of carrying a firearm in the cab with me. Truckers like myself drive Big, Heavy, Slow moving machines and in the day to day hustle of the 9-5'er trying to get home or to work, trying to get to the softball game or to a family dinner.. whatever it may be, when a guy like me gets in your way tempers flare.. I have been the brunt of many verbal assults and countless fingers. At home I carry a Beretta PX4 Storm .40 cal. Thankfully I have never been put in a situation anywhere that has required me to employ my Beretta as a means to intimidate an attacker into making a healthier judgement call. For those of us that enjoy exercising our right to keep and bear arms and under a valid permit enjoy responsible concealed/carry of our favorite handguns in public spaces, keeping our cool and reacting in a calm deliberate manner can mean the difference between a headstone, prison sentence or the dinner table. Safe Travels to you all!

  • Eric R. Poole

    I know that it probably would just instigate trouble, but have any of you heard of these novelty items called "SHTICS." They are signs made to look like real stop signs, hazard signs and such featuring messages we'd all love to really say on a nice plastic popcicle stick. Best way to get the last word in. Very funny. Knowing that they'd get me in trouble on my commute to work, I decided it was best to ship them overseas to a friend in Afghanistan where I know they'll get good use and provide some humor for those guys.

  • Toby

    I am alarmed by the ever increasing phenomenon of blameless drivers; people who cut you off/ almost sideswipe you and then have the audacity to shoot you the finger as if you are to blame for their ignorance. I am hardly the best driver and when I make a mistake – I apologized profusely as I would expect them to do as well. Road rage occurs when two self righteous drivers feel they are right, when clearly that is impossible.

  • GWM

    What has happen to people today I drive 35 miles to work mostly two lane roads early morning is the worst time over the last six year to this job I've seen more people driven off the road because some turd head can't wait 5 miles to the next light this less than 5 minutes folks it's stupid to watch I know some day I will have to stop and render aid to some dumb a$$ who just killed a family and I wonder if I will just spit in his eye or really help the dumb a$$. Today my ten year old son and I going down the doing the speed limit Mr idiot pulls up behinds us and lays on his horn he is tail gateing me so close I can only see the top of the hood ok I let ride there but a turn is coming up not my turn but it will get himm off my bumper and my son out of danger, the turn is a y right and is before the light , you yield as you turn here, I turn on my signal tap my brakes to say hay I get the message I'm getting out of the way, I slow down proper for the turn and the drivers tries to pass me in the turn and looses control and ends up sideways in front of me , well he'll I'm not sticking around here right I make a quick Uturn back to the main road when I looked in my rearview I see him to trying to get back on the main road , so I just drive to the police station after i get almost there I don't see him anymore and I take the major long way home. And inform the police we live in a small town around 18k in our state you can have firearm in your car with out a CCL I'm just glad I got my son out of with no additional issues. Zombie drivers I what my son calls them I think he is right sad to say.

  • kj85712

    I once had to panic brake when a very gang looking person stepped out infront of my car. The look he gave me and the body language gave me a pause. He was trying to say 'f-you'. At that moment I just reached over the glovebox and put my 1911 in my lap just in case, while he walked very slowly in the cross walk. Then all of a sudden from behind me comes a guy running away from the car at a full sprint and the two of them run in the same direction. While I absorb what just took place I realize I just scared off a car jacking. The car jacker behind me must have seen the pistol in my lap and changed his mind.

  • Paul

    My advice is to keep enough distance between your vehicle and any other so that you can manuver around them if needed — even from a stop. And to anyone who thinks they are justified in getting out of their car and "giving someone a piece of their mind", consider this — while you are shaking your finger in their face, will you be able to return fire? Right is right and wrong is wrong, but dead is also dead.

  • Tom Wozniak

    The old saying: "Some people are alive just because its illegal to shoot them" comes to mind here. It's not the illegality so much as the court expenses evn if it's a"good shoot'. How many of us can afford upwards of $30,000 to stay out of jail just because some a hole doesn't know how to behave. Just as when we carry we have to be extra polite and extra careful when we drive. Besides they don't make suitable headmounts ofr the wall ;) just kidding of course.

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