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Old December 22, 2012, 02:25 PM   #1
armed_librarian
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Road rage. What would you have done?

Okay, so I thought about this for a while before I posting it. I'm going to do my best to describe everything that happened so both sides are clear.

The other night a friend and I were heading back into town. I was merging off the interstate onto a 4 lane highway that was fairly crowded with traffic. I was forced to merge in front of a car that was most likely 3-4 car lengths behind me, but because of his speed, I most likely caused him to have to brake (though not severely). Rather than pass me, he stayed on my bumper close enough to where I could not see his headlights. I then merged, into the passing lane, hoping he would pass me. Instead he merged with me and proceeded to tailgate. About a quarter mile from where I merged is a stop light. When we stopped, the guy proceeded to lay on his horn. Now this is where the fault on us comes in. Unbeknownst to me, my "friend" (I actually haven't talked to him since) gave the man the one finger salute out his window. The light turned green and he followed us for another quarter mile where I was stopping at a gas station. When I realized he was going to follow us in, I turned on the video camera on my phone. I came to a stop and he jumped out and walked to the passenger side of the car and began yelling at my friend. "I'm not in the mood," "who do you think you are?" And so on. The buddy stayed calm and explained his part, that we were just trying to merge and there was no need to tailgate and honk.

That was when the man came back with "do you want to live or die tonight" and at the same time reached behind his back. My buddy is a big guy (6'3 and 280lbs) and rather than back down he stepped forward, put his hand on his .380 in his front right pocket and asked "are you threatening me?" At this point I'm walking around the other side of the car. There was a car full of people behind me and behind him. I'm trying to clear line of fire both behind the guy and behind me. I also put my hand on my USPc which was small of back but nothing more. The guy seemed surprised that my buddy didn't back down and paused. My friend asked the same question and the guy backed down. He said "no I'm not threatening you" and got back in his car. He backed out of the parking lot and took off. He didn't have a front license plate so I was unable to get a number.

So, I apologize for the very long write up. This is the first time since I've started carrying that I remotely felt like I might need my firearm. I also wanted to give as much background as I could so anyone who wants to share an opinion can see where I should have done something different.

Some key elements:
I have crappy friends, and without them I probably would have avoided this.

As fast as it happened, I was thankful that I was smart enough to position myself to where if I became a target, I didn't have anyone behind me and I was able to move where there was no longer anyone behind him.

Neither of us drew, and it seemed like the fact alone that we didn't back down surprised him. Most likely he expected to scare us and didn't have any weapon at all.

Since we did not get a plate number and no weapons were seen we did not call the police.

So now I ask. What could/should I have done. Be brutal, I don't care. Keep in mind that I understand that the largest and crucial mistake was my friend giving the finger. This instigated the entire incident. However, this was beyond my control. I'm asking for opinions as if you were in my shoes.

Thank you all!
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Old December 22, 2012, 02:42 PM   #2
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I understand that the largest and crucial mistake was my friend giving the finger. This instigated the entire incident.
Like you said, this instigated the incident. Count to ten, try to remain calm. Avoid knee-jerk reactions.
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Old December 22, 2012, 02:53 PM   #3
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You have learned something and the cost has been minimal. It could have been a lot worse.

Even good friends can make mistakes. It does not have to be a "crappy" one.

I am glad you are both ok.

We had a case in Mesa a year or so ago where someone took offense to someone else's driving and tried to teach them a lesson when they both pulled up in the left turn lane at a stop light.

The guy approached the truck in front with a gun in his hand and the guy in front also was armed and saw the man approaching.

The guy in front exited his truck and fired twice killing the guy. It was ruled a justifiable shooting. Now two families are forever changed.

I am glad your incident did not turn out that way.
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Old December 22, 2012, 03:31 PM   #4
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Glad you got out of this unscathed. Your first goal, in these circumstances, should be to avoid a confrontation. If someone is following, often the best tactic is to find a police station and let him follow you there.
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Old December 22, 2012, 04:09 PM   #5
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I think you and your friend handled yourselves very well (other then the fore mentioned salute), and i'm kind of thinking the guy was just trying to put a scare into you by reaching for his "firearm" which i don't think he actually had. That being said i would never call someones bluff when it comes to weapons.
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Old December 22, 2012, 04:44 PM   #6
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Thanks for the input so far.

Mr. Ettin,
One of the first thoughts that went through my head when I realized he was indeed following me was to head towards a police station. Unfortunately, the closest one was about 10 minutes away, maybe more with traffic. The gas station I was headed to is one I frequent often, I knew that the area would be well lit and I also knew it was protected by security cameras. At the time, I figured it was better than letting the guy follow us home

ChasingWhitetail,
It wasn't until afterwards that I really started to think he didn't have one. At the time, I was so surprised by his "live or die" remark that I reacted to it without really thinking. Like I said, since we didn't actually see a weapon, neither of us drew. Part of me thinks that he registered both of us preparing to draw and that helped cool him off.

As Geetarman said, it was a learning experience for me. Thanks again for the input so far.
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Old December 22, 2012, 04:48 PM   #7
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If you have the gas it's probably best to drive to a police station if someone's following you like that. Or, just keep driving - chances are they'll cool off and leave sooner rather than later.
But assuming you needed to stop for gas, I'd say you handled things pretty well.
I would have a talk with your buddy. I for one have given more than my fair share of one fingered salutes and at one time had a hard time walking away from a fight, but since I started carrying a gun I've made a conscious effort to be less confrontational. Even in places where "stand your ground" laws are in place you're going to wind up in hot water if the powers that be decided you instigated/escalated things. He needs to make a decision about whether he wants to carry a gun, or confront jerks. Doing both is a bad idea.
You know better than any of us whether he's a crappy friend, but he might just not have thought things through.

I'm glad everything worked out fine.
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Old December 22, 2012, 06:37 PM   #8
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I like cell phones. When he started tailgating and following your lane changes, I would recommend a quick call to 911 reporting the road rage. Mesa AZ PD, in my experience reacts very quickly to this type incident.

Much like a firearms incident, he who calls first generally gets the benefit of the doubt.

If the guy was driving erratically I would have reported the incident as a possible DUI. cops tend to respond quickly to those reports.
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Old December 22, 2012, 07:26 PM   #9
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He needs to make a decision about whether he wants to carry a gun, or confront jerks. Doing both is a bad idea
Carrying guns requires one to be less easily provoked... and your friend needs to take that lesson to heart. I'm glad everything turned out OK
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Old December 22, 2012, 08:24 PM   #10
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It's easy for one to say, "here's what I would have done". It really means "here's what I'd like to think I'd have done". You never know.

Be careful on the road: here's a case in point and a true story. Here in Reno Nev. during the Clinton administration, a Federal agent with a history of being involved in road rage incidents had an incident that turned out to be his last.

Unknown to him, the "other guy" was a down and outer, had broken up with his girlfriend, and was in the process of leaving town on 395 S. bound N. of Reno. Tony, the agent, followed the individual who went E. on I80 and took an exit at the Nugget. The agent's car bumped into him at the stop sign. The agent, got out of his car and was in the process of calling in the accident on his cell phone when the occupant of the car came up and shot him with a .22 cal. handgun. The assailant then took the agent's .40 cal pistol and shot him to death. Then he took his own life. All this witnessed by bystanders from the overpass above.

When one relative was notified of Tony's death, he replied "Tony ran into the wrong guy this time, didn't he?"

Janet Reno attended the funeral and bestowed the usual accolades on the fallen Federal Agent.

My account above is as I remember it from local news sources as best as I can remember without inserting any personal opinions.

The point is, anyone can be either a victim or a participant of road rage if we aren't careful. I can say, from personal experience, that staying completely calm and ignoring the other driver can be rather difficult.

The fact that I'm an armed citizen has always been a good reminder and provides plenty of extra incentive with regards to not allowing things to escalate. We all know it's better to ignore the other driver. We just need to do it. Under no circumstances I can forsee would I be inclined to stop and confront the other driver or allow my self to be confronted.

As for having a passenger in my car who's doing his best to escalate the matter, especially while armed (but even if not), suggests that an obvious little "chat" might be in order.

Just my thoughts on the matter.
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Old December 22, 2012, 08:26 PM   #11
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Keep driving, same speed, avoid eye contact, and remain calm. Let him pass.
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Old December 22, 2012, 11:36 PM   #12
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I really worry about situations like this as well. People get VERY unreasonable when road rage sets in, and while I've been lucky enough to avoid anything real crazy, I have been in enough minor encounters with angry people to understand how quickly things can escalate.

My best friend is kind of like your friend from the sound of things- He gets fired up quickly, especially when someone else is being an idiot. He isn't one to back down and is often the instigator, being very familiar with the one finger wave, as your friend was in this case. One thing I've been working on lately along with being more aware is taking control of situations when I can. If you know your friend to be a little hot headed, maybe as soon as you notice the guy tailgating say something like "man I hate these tailgating idiots, probably best to just ignore them." I realize that your buddy still makes his own decision, but maybe just an innocuous statement will help temper the situation. Maybe not, but saying "DUDE, don't flip anybody off tonight, ok?" as soon as you get in the car won't likely work well either.
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Old December 22, 2012, 11:41 PM   #13
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Reminds me of an incident of road rage that happened to me. My family and I were driving back from a vacation out west. We were on I-70 in Kansas City. We were going to take in another tourist attraction in southern Missouri. I had picked out the route to follow on a map. This was before the days of GPS in every vehicle. When I came to the exit for that route I left the interstate. The route was following a four lane city street. We drove a few blocks and then the route made a left turn. I was in the right hand lane so had to cut into the left lane. The traffic was thick so the hole I cut into wasn't very big. The passenger in the car I cut in front of got very angry. In my rear view mirror I could see his head sticking out the window and see his mouth moving. I couldn't hear what he was saying but I am sure it wasn't fit for mixed company. After only two blocks the route I am following makes a right turn. Now I am in the left lane and have to cut into the right lane. Guess who I cut in front of? Yep, the same guy. This time he has his head and shoulders out the window and his mouth is going a mile a minute. After we both make the right turn, the other vehicle whips into the left lane and comes speeding up beside us. We were in a full sized van so I am looking down at him. My son sitting in the back of the van told me he saw him reach under his seat for something. At this point I am getting worried. As he is coming even with me he has his head and shoulders out the window again and his mouth is still working. With my window shut and the traffic noise I still can't hear what he is saying but he is obviously not a happy camper. I am going about 40 at this point and I would guess that he was going about 60 when he caught up with me. Just as he came even with me, I hit the brakes fairly hard. I slowed down to about 15 and stayed at that speed for a couple of minutes. This had the effect of him slingshotting ahead of me. This put us several cars behind him. I was pretty proud of myself for outsmarting him when I look over at my wife. In that big van with its picture window size windshield, she is waving at him with a big grin on her face. By now the guy has gone totally ballistic. He is so far out the passenger window, it would not have surprised me if he had fallen out on the pavement. He was shaking his fist and yelling. I yelled at my wife, "What are you doing? He is mad enough at us now to follow us all the way to Alabama to take a shot at us!" I slowed down even more and they continued to pull ahead of us. Maybe the driver got a little sense. We never saw any more of them but I had everybody in the van watching the side streets and parking lots in case they would pull off and try to come in behind us again. That trip all I had with me was my S&W .38 snub. I never travelled that lightly armed again.
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Old December 22, 2012, 11:57 PM   #14
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Well, you could travel more heavily armed... or you could just opt to not cut people off, multiple times. For instance, when you realized you were coming up on a left turn and you were not in position, you could have gone another block, then made three rights (IE a right 270 to make a left 90).

A gun is not a replacement for simple driving courtesy. A gun will not protect against a three ton, high speed impact.
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Old December 23, 2012, 12:16 AM   #15
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No kidding, MLeake

I'm calling BS on the whole thing.

"I have crappy friends." So, you willingly, and habitually hang around with lowlifes? You're known by the company you keep, ever hear that one? Lose the crappy friends and associate with respectable company. It ain't hard to do.

"Handled it well"? No, "he," meaning the OP and his passenger, handled it in a juvenile schoolyard fashion that provoked a confrontation, when at least one of them was armed, and one of them obviously thought he was enough of a badass to confront the Red Army. Feh.

"Protected by video cameras"? Really? What the hell does that even mean? And that's why you stopped right there, right then? I'd have to be running on fumes, with my engine gasping for life to stop then and there.

You two instigated this, and would have been criminally liable if it had come to bloodshed. I'm damned glad it didn't, but stop palling around with goons. Assuming, of course, you aren't a goon yourself. If this incident happened as you describe, it's a discredit to law-abiding armed self defense.
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Old December 23, 2012, 01:15 AM   #16
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Mr. James,
I guess I made a mistake in using the phrase crappy friend. I meant it more to show my frustration at him for the particular incident. Normally, he is an okay guy. Keep in mind I had no idea my buddy had given him the finger. Since I, as the driver, had done nothing wrong, that I knew of, I really didn't expect him to follow me in. Another bad phrasing I used was the video camera reference. In my head as I was typing of the original post, I envisioned one of those little signs they have to inform people they are on camera. I pulled in because it was the one place that was well lit and I honestly had hoped that by getting off the road, he would pass me by. I did not expect to be followed and I did not expect a confrontation. I admitted in my first post that the incident was instigated by the passenger, but I also said I was unaware. Part of the reason for my post was to show that I was forced into the situation. Trust me, I did not want to be there.

I understand that wrong was done on our part. I asked for opinions and I'm happy people provided their input. Thanks everyone.
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Old December 23, 2012, 01:49 AM   #17
Win73
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Quote:
Well, you could travel more heavily armed... or you could just opt to not cut people off, multiple times. For instance, when you realized you were coming up on a left turn and you were not in position, you could have gone another block, then made three rights (IE a right 270 to make a left 90).

A gun is not a replacement for simple driving courtesy. A gun will not protect against a three ton, high speed impact.
I just have to answer that. If you read my post again, you will see that I said cut in front of, not cut off. I was moving with the flow of traffic at traffic speed. There was no danger of a collision. I signalled each time that I was going to change lanes. I did not "opt" to cut in front of him either time. I was watching traffic and saw an adequate hole to cut in to and took it. I didn't realize I had cut in front of the same guy the second time until after I did it. The driver of the other vehicle did not have to hit his brakes either time. And yes, I know that two wrongs don't make a right but three lefts do. However I was in a strange city and didn't know the streets. The hole I cut in to was not a large hole but it was adequate. I didn't mention this in my original post but the occupants of the other vehicle were black and I am a honkie from Alabama. And we were in their part of town. Another reason I didn't want to be wandering around streets that I didn't know with my family in my car. (And you can call me prejudiced if you want because of it.) I really feel that a lot of the reason he got so angry was because of who he was and who I was.

And I was not discourteous at any time. I or my family never made any gestures or tried to say anything to him at any time until my wife smiled and waved at him after it was basically over and he was well in front of us. I had a weapon but I never produced or brandished it.
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Old December 23, 2012, 01:55 AM   #18
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Win 73, in your earlier post you said, "The traffic was thick so the hole I cut into wasn't very big." Now you say you had perfectly safe and adequate room. Those statements do not agree well.

One of my personal peeves is the driver who assumes that because he has signalled, he can now do what he wants. Signals and wants do not equal right of way.

I would not blame the guy for being annoyed the first time you cut him off. Twice? Not a good idea, and not courteous by any stretch.

I think your assumption that your race, and not your behavior, offended the other driver is offensive.
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Old December 23, 2012, 02:11 AM   #19
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win73

Quote:
I or my family never made any gestures or tried to say anything to him at any time until my wife smiled and waved at him after it was basically over and he was well in front of us.
unless that was a friendly/courteous wave, the incident was not "basically" over just because his vehicle was in front of you(hindsight 20/20 had it labeled as "basiacally" over)

Quote:
I had a weapon but I never produced or brandished it.
things can escalate quick. All I am saying is, what was the deal with the wave? ...especially if you were concerned about the individual(s) you were dealing with andor the 'part of town' you were in
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Old December 23, 2012, 02:12 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by armed_librarian
I came to a stop and he jumped out and walked to the passenger side of the car and began yelling at my friend.
So you are in your vehicle and he is out of his?

Drive away.
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Old December 23, 2012, 02:17 AM   #21
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Quote:
So you are in your vehicle and he is out of his?

Drive away.
extremely good advice. all people know when guys get heated they can be more aggressive, so even if you have the best intentions in stopping there's a good choice that isn't the way it is going to play out.

*something to think about on a side note*
some training in different fields can show someone how to "come in on someone low" when they are "over the top"(blowing their top so-to-speak).......this allows you both to 'meet in the middle' further away from lala land where people get hurt or killed if they are unlucky or foolish by not opting to drive away
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Old December 23, 2012, 02:33 AM   #22
Win73
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Quote:
Win 73, in your earlier post you said, "The traffic was thick so the hole I cut into wasn't very big." Now you say you had perfectly safe and adequate room. Those statements do not agree well.

One of my personal peeves is the driver who assumes that because he has signalled, he can now do what he wants. Signals and wants do not equal right of way.

I would not blame the guy for being annoyed the first time you cut him off. Twice? Not a good idea, and not courteous by any stretch.

I think your assumption that your race, and not your behavior, offended the other driver is offensive.
You are infering what I did not imply. Yes, the traffic was thick. Yes, I would have liked more clearance. But it wasn't available at the time. Yes, I did say and still say the opening in the traffic was adequate. If I thought there was any more than ordinary traffic hazard in the move, I would not have endangered my family to take it. No, I did not say it was "perfectly safe." You are never perfectly safe when you are in a moving vehicle in traffic. I am an ex police officer. I directed a lot of traffic and worked accidents. My assessment at the time was and still is that I made a safe move.

You keep saying "cut off." I repeat, I did not cut him off. He did not need to change his traffic pattern either time. He did not need to slow down either time. He could have just kept flowing with the traffic.

You keep making it sound like I was deliberately picking him to cut in front of. Both times I was focusing on the traffic and just looking for an adequate hole to move into. As I said, I did not even realize that it was the same guy the second time until after I had changed lanes.

Come now, you don't think people are prejudiced against people of other races? I know whites that are prejudiced against blacks. I know blacks that are prejudiced against whites. During my time as a police officer, I saw a lot of it. I was called a honkie and worse names more than once. It really didn't bother me a whole lot then. I have black next door neighbors now and we are friends. When I lived in Kansas I had black next door neighbors. We were friends then. My children and their children played together and got along just fine.

If you are black and that is why you find what I said offensive, I am sorry. But I stand behind everything I said.

And as an ex police officer I definitely realize that signalling doesn't give you the "right" to do whatever you want. What is a bigger peeve to me is the fellow who doesn't signal.
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Old December 23, 2012, 02:46 AM   #23
Win73
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Quote:
things can escalate quick. All I am saying is, what was the deal with the wave? ...especially if you were concerned about the individual(s) you were dealing with andor the 'part of town' you were in
It wasn't me who waved. It was my wife. At that point, because I had slowed down so much, they were 8 or 10 cars between us and getting farther apart. My wife is a friendly sort and probably felt any danger was over. After my talking to her I am sure she would not do it again if the same situation ever happened again. It hasn't.

And in just about any large city there are areas of town that it is not really prudent for certain people to be wandering around in. With the gang problem we have, they don't like outsiders trespassing on their "turf." I remember not too awfully long ago a family (white if I remember correctly) got lost in a city (don't remember which one). A gang killed the whole family.
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Old December 23, 2012, 05:30 AM   #24
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^^^IIRC it was Watts in S. Cent. L.A.
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Old December 23, 2012, 07:37 AM   #25
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Should not stop the car unless you feel is going to cause you to have an accident or you are running out of gas. Agree w previous comments, keep driving, no eye contact, let him pass. Usually they will give up when they are far enough off route.

Call police is another option and report unsafe driver
Intentionally go well off route but in safe areas

Last thing you should is stop and get out of the car
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