Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Road Rage can kill you: Fear, not anger, should guide your actions when you encounter a discourteous driver

Violence is on the rise in Baton Rouge.  Last year's homicide rate--114 killings--set a new record, and we will probably break that record this year. 

Some of these killings occur near my neighborhood--the venerable College Town subdivision, where LSU professors and retired professors live. 

Two days ago, Joseph Tatney, age 40, was shot and killed at Benny's Carwash, where I often go to get my Subaru cleaned.  Jamal Jackson, 19 years old, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

According to one version of events, Jackson was driving on Interstate 10, and Tatney tailgated him in a fit of road rage.  

Jackson pulled into a carwash parking lot, but Tatney followed him.  Words were exchanged, and Tatney punched Jackson twice. Jackson allegedly retrieved a handgun from his car and killed Tatney. 

We live in scary times, probably as dangerous as the mythical Old West. Our highways are especially perilous, with drivers distracted by their cell phones and young people weaving through traffic at 90 miles an hour. Road rage is increasingly common.

I admit that I am occasionally enraged by rude drivers. I get particularly ticked off when I am tailgated by some neanderthal driving a Dodge Ram pickup truck who can see that I can't go faster because I am behind another neanderthal driving 40 miles an hour in the fast lane.

But anger on the highways is the wrong emotion, whether you are an enraged driver or the target of a driver's road rage.

 Poor Mr. Jackson was understandably upset when he got tailgated and assaulted by a stranger. But now Jackson has been charged with murder. The gun he reportedly had in his car did not keep him safe.

As for Mr. Tatney, we don't know what triggered his purported road rage. But whatever it was, it was not worth his life.

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