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Road rage changing, not increasing, officer says

Colfax resident says weapon was brandished at him on the road
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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With some local road rage incidents, including a dangerous chase, making the headlines, the California Highway Patrol is reminding drivers how to best avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Several local residents said they have experienced incidents of road rage. On Friday Cool residents Joseph James Montgomery and Gavin Rasmussen allegedly stole items from a fellow Cool resident’s car. When the man, who has not been named, saw Montgomery and Rasmussen driving away from the scene, he reportedly followed them in his vehicle. After an aggressive chase, the incident ended with an altercation in a parking lot in the 500 block of Auburn Folsom Road. The victim was stabbed multiple times and transferred to Sutter Roseville Medical Center. Last June a father and son, John Patrick O’Neill and Cory Taylor O’Neill, allegedly beat up KFBK sports personality Pat Walsh. The incident took place after the two men allegedly pulled up alongside Walsh on Interstate 80 near the Applegate exit and started yelling and making gestures. A fight broke out when the two vehicles pulled off the freeway near the exit, according to the California Highway Patrol. Walsh reportedly suffered a cut to his forehead, a swollen jaw and bruised kidneys during the incident. Both O’Neills are scheduled for a trial confirming conference at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Dept. 32 of Roseville’s Bill Santucci Justice Center. Officer David Martinez, spokesman for the Newcastle Highway Patrol Office, said while road rage incidents are not necessarily more prevalent now, they have changed over the years because of what people keep in their cars, including weapons. Martinez said there are a lot of reports of people throwing things at each other. “That is usually very common because somebody always has something in their vehicle,” he said. “I see that a lot. There is a brandishing of a weapon, a lot of reports on that.” Martinez said he thinks a lot more people are educated about the dangers of road rage now than they were 20 years ago, and he always tries to include information on how to avoid road rage incidents in the classes he teaches. “When I educate the new drivers and we talk about peer pressure, we talk about DUI and we talk about road rage,” he said. “And I specifically bring up the example about tailgating. An easy solution is you can just move over. You move over and the situation is gone. If you take some type of a negative action to it, now you are making it personal.” If a road rage incident begins to escalate, those involved or those who witness it need to call 911 so the Highway Patrol or another agency can respond, Martinez said. “The information that we are going to need is their location, their direction of travel, description of the vehicles and possibly the occupants, if it’s possible,” he said. “Obviously if there are weapons involved, we definitely want to know that.” Georgetown resident Dean Elbert said he ignores other drivers who could potentially cause stressful situations on the road. “I just keep moving,” Elbert said. “I don’t pay attention to it. I just laugh and say, ‘Whatever happens happens.’ I guess I just don’t respond.” Colfax resident Dan Johnson said it’s common for him to see incidents of road rage in the local area. “Road rage on I-80 is getting out of control,” Johnson said. “(I have seen things) daily. I commute to Auburn every day and almost daily there is some act of road rage. I have been up here since 1970 and it just seems to be getting worse all the time.” Johnson said the most common actions he sees connected to road rage are excessive tailgating, cutting people off and “the one finger salute.” Johnson said he drives defensively to avoid getting involved in potentially dangerous situations. “I have been in an incident where a guy brandished a weapon and I just backed off and let him go,” he said. “I was going the speed limit, which I guess wasn’t fast enough.” Auburn resident Katherine Brown-McCallister said she feels like she makes enough mistakes on the road that she wouldn’t take anger out on other drivers who make mistakes. “I could have made that same mistake,” Brown-McCallister said. “I’m not above that. I try not to honk my horn unless it’s really necessary.” Lincoln resident Cara Lucero said she has been involved in situations where she will change lanes and the person behind her will zoom around her, merge back in front of her and then step on the brakes. Lucero said once she and her husband were driving and a driver next to them got angry at something and started cursing and shaking his fist. Lucero’s husband wanted to pull over and confront the other driver, but Lucero told him to keep going. Brown-McCallister said people should stop and think before getting angry and starting potential road rage. “When you are in a rage you don’t think about whether or not it’s dangerous,” she said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com