By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
The Chicago Daily Herald reports that one Charles R. Peterson was taken into custody during the evening of May 19, 2018, for a road rage incident in the Norwood Park district.
Peterson was the passenger in a car that cut off another vehicle in traffic on I-90. They followed the car that they cut off, eventually pointing a gun at the driver. Unfortunately for Peterson and his driver, the man that Peterson pointed his gun at happened to be an off-duty officer of the Chicago PD.
The Illinois State Police initiated a stop and Peterson and his friend were taken into custody. The gun was loaded. He is now facing charges of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon – a felony – and misdemeanor aggravated assault.
This is not a unique incident; Google “road rage gun” or something to that effect and you’ll find multiple instances from anywhere in the country, thus bringing us to the topic of road rage.
Traffic is frustrating, to be sure. It’s annoying and stressful with dozens of cars nearby. Add to that someone cutting you off, going slower than the speed limit in the fast lane, driving a Prius, etc., it isn’t too hard to imagine why someone might snap.
If confronted by someone who clearly has road rage and is attempting to harass you, the first thing to do is remain calm. They have lost their mind; there is no reason why you should lose yours.
Lock your doors and roll your windows up. Do not make eye contact, stay away from the horn and certainly do not render a one-finger salute. The former is a sign of aggression among primates that our silly monkey brains pick up on under stress, and the latter behaviors are likewise usually taken that way.
Allow an aggressive driver to pass you. Slow down, even below the speed limit, and let them pass. Don’t block either the passing lane nor right-turn lane; let them get past you. You might be tempted to follow them and call the police. Don’t. An already unhinged person may spot you tailing them. This can escalate the situation.
If a car appears to be following, stalking or harassing you in traffic, you need to either find a way to ditch them by putting as many cars as possible between yours and theirs – big rigs, panel vans and so on are helpful for these endeavors – or ditch them if possible. Take an exit in a safe but abrupt manner; while a semi-truck is blocking your view would be perfect.
If you can’t shake the tail, call the police. Give them the make, model, color and license plate of your car, and whatever information you can give them about theirs. Tell them what street your on and which direction you’re heading.
Whatever you do, do NOT stop to confront them. If you have to pull over, do so in a public place with lots of witnesses around.
Also, make sure that you don’t succumb to road rage. Traffic is frustrating, to be sure, but that doesn’t excuse any bad behavior on your part. Get sufficient sleep whenever possible, and give yourself ample time to arrive at work. Chances are that lives don’t depend on what you do for a living, so do try to keep that in mind.
If you find yourself getting angry, instead of giving in to it, recognize it for what it is: you’re frustrated because you didn’t get exactly what you want, or this, that or the other thing. Recognize it and let it pass.
Don’t feed the impulse by indulging anger or frustration. You might start thinking things like “that guy did something wrong” and so on and so forth. You aren’t the police (unless you actually are) and meting out “justice” is not your job. Stop thinking in those terms; the world isn’t fair and nothing you do will make it so.
Remember that you aren’t entitled to a thing in this world. You aren’t owed anything by anyone and the only certainties are death and taxes. Keep a good perspective.
If you feel like you’re about to fly off the handle, focus on something else. Focus on your breathing, and try to take slower breaths. Turn the radio on, whistle a tune, do anything you can to calm yourself down.
Nothing in traffic is worth risking going to jail or getting in a fight over. You don’t want to wind up in the news, at least for something stupid.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.