Police investigating two dangerous road rage cases on freeways

Posted at 6:21 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 18:21:46-04

(WXYZ) — Sunday night one driver shoots at another driving northbound on the Lodge in a road rage incident leaving one person injured.

A week ago shots were fired on the Southfield Freeway exit ramp to Seven Mile in what is also being investigated as a road rage incident.

As Michigan State Police investigate the second freeway shooting in a week, it has us wondering, is road rage on the rise? What should we do if we encounter it?

Twice in 8 days road rage has escalated to violence on the Southfield Freeway, then on the Lodge.

But road rage or aggressive driving, like purposely tailgating or purposely cutting someone off, can be dangerous even without a weapon involved.

“We see that up to 50% of fatal accidents usually involve some sort of aggressive driving,” says Attorney Brandon Hewitt, the COO of Michigan Auto Law.

Hewitt says they’ve had fewer accident cases overall since the pandemic started, but the cases they do have are more serious.

“Understand that other people are under stress even if you’re not,” says Hewitt.

Can stress lead to road rage? AAA studies say 'Yes.'

“With all of the frustration and tension that mounts, we’ve been in shelter in place and a lot of folks have been unemployed for going on 2 months now all of that leads itself to a culminating event such as what we saw on the freeway yesterday,” says Gary Bubar with the AAA Auto Club Group.

Michigan State Police 1st Lt. Michael Shaw doesn’t believe COVID-19 stress is to blame for the recent freeway shootings.

“Those people out there had a gun. They shot at somebody with intent to hurt them and there is nothing happening in your life that could possibly be saying it’s OK to do that,” says Shaw.

But driving habits have changed since the Stay Home executive order was issued.

“There have been multiple cars traveling over 100 miles an hour that we’ve pulled over and issued citations too,” says Shaw, noting even in construction zones vehicles have been caught going 80 m/p/h.

Speeding is one of the most common calls the MSP has received in the last 2 months. It’s a nationwide pattern according to AAA.

“People are driving faster, more aggressively, taking more risks because there’s not as many cars out there,” says Bubar.

If you encounter an aggressive driver, it’s important to stay calm.

“A good rule of thumb is, if it makes you angry when other people do it, don’t do that,” says Bubar.

“If you see someone tailgating you, move over. If someone cuts you off, back up,” says Hewitt. "Call 911."

“We really want to come out there when this occurs to try to stop it from getting more aggressive,” says Shaw.

Michigan Auto Law says they’ve seen the number of auto crashes increase in the last week as more people go back to work, pointing out that it’s been a couple months since many people have spent time behind the wheel.

MSP says it’s important to give yourself extra time and to be patient with yourself and others on the road as more people return to work.