Road rage flare-ups highlight ever-present problem on local roadways

Alleged road rage incidents in recent weeks — incidents that left two men dead — have again placed the problem of aggressive driving front and center.

Police have received reports of aggressive driving in Harrison Twp., Sidney, Butler County’s West Chester Twp. and elsewhere in recent weeks.

The problem has long simmered. Montgomery and Warren counties lead the state in road rage incidents this year, while Butler County ranked fifth, according to state patrol data.

In July, Montgomery County had 63 road rage incidents since the beginning of the year, while Warren County had 62. Those tallies are far higher than any other Ohio county, according to data from the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Last week, Forbes magazine ranked Ohio 10th in the states for “confrontational driving,” saying 76% of Ohio drivers said another driver honked at them in frustration, the fourth highest amount in the nation. Ohio also ranked seventh worst for the percentage of drivers who said that another driver has cut them off on purpose (51.5%).

Not every local county is high — Clark County had only 22 reports of road rage from January to July despite I-70 running the length of the county.

Kara Hitchens, public and government affairs manager for AAA in Dayton, cites statistics from an organization called “Every Town for Gun Safety Support Fund,” which found that a total of 542 people nationally were killed or wounded in road rage incidents nationwide in 2022, twice the number from 2018.

“I would say it’s getting worse,” Hitchens said.

“It’s something that we talk about, and something that when we hear it in our own areas and our own markets, we tend to raise the flag,” she said.

A person of interest is in custody in connection to a deadly road rage shooting in Harrison Twp. Sunday afternoon. Multiple 911 callers reported a person in a red Chrysler had been shot at by someone in a white vehicle, according to Montgomery County Regional Dispatch records.

Montgomery County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the intersection at Webster Street and Needmore Road. Later Sunday night, an arrest was made at a Fairborn hotel.

“The loss of a 22-year-old life over something so irrational is deeply disheartening,” Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck said in a statement on that incident. “This incident should prompt us all to reflect on the importance of fostering a culture of patience and respect while driving to prevent such senseless tragedies.”

A spokeswoman for Streck Tuesday said the sheriff may have more to say on the issue Wednesday.

In Sidney last week, police said a North Carolina man was arrested for murder after a man was struck by a vehicle in the Angstrom Fiber parking lot off Ferguson Court, the city of Sidney said.

Police said Brandon Tyler Welsh, 32, of Eaton, was found dead in the lot.

Arrested was Lashawn Dean Hughes, 48, of Greensboro, N.C. Police found Hughes in the village of Anna after he fled the scene in his semi truck, Sidney city officials said.

He is incarcerated at the Shelby County Jail, charged with one count of murder, the city said.

Meanwhile, in West Chester Twp., a couple said they were assaulted by two people in another car at Ohio 747 and Muhlhauser Road last month.

Two people were charged in that incident: Hector Manzanares Jr., 37, who faces charges of felonious assault and assault, and Victoria Allison Schneider, facing two counts of assault, according to a West Chester police report.

Since January 2022, there have been 21 reports of road rage incidents in West Chester, West Chester Twp. police public information officer Barbara Wilson said.

In 2018, a Springfield man was accused of using his car to push a different car with a child passenger inside almost 300 feet near Leffel Lane and South Limestone Street.

The problem starts with aggressive driving, said the AAA’s Hitchens. Tailgating, speeding, weaving in and out of traffic are traffic offensives, obviously. But in some situations, they can spark a confrontation, she said.

Hitchens repeats AAA’s advice: Practice polite driving habits. If you encounter road rage, let it go.

“It takes work,” she said. “Someone is speeding around you. Someone is cutting you off. Just figure, ‘OK, someone has someplace important to be.’ ... Slow down and let the aggressor go on. For you, as an individual, it’s important for you to keep your cool.”

In general, lay off your vehicle’s horn and don’t drive under duress, she added. Be realistic about travel time. Don’t make eye contact with an aggressive driver.

“Driving is not a competition. You don’t need to one-up someone,” Hitchens said.

Columbus attorney John Fitch, who represents car accident victims, said from where he stands, the problem is getting worse.

“In today’s world, which has become increasingly violent ... we’re having an increasing problem with gun violence in particular. My advice to any of my clients and any members of the general public would be: Just don’t engage this person (an aggressive driver). Just don’t engage them.”

Just based on his experience driving around the Columbus metro area, Fitch said he is seeing “more and more aggressive driving.”

If you are a victim, report the incident immediately to police, he said.

Victims may not only have civil remedies through the court system, but they also may also be eligible for funds from the Ohio Victims of Crime Compensation Fund for losses stemming from criminal actions not covered by insurance, he said.

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