View Full Version : Road Rage - Stay in Car or Exit?

Bartholomew Roberts
February 23, 2011, 09:00 AM
The discussion in this thread got me to thinking:http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=440836

In Texas, and some other states, Castle Doctrine laws extend to your vehicle. So by staying in your vehicle, you gain important legal protections as well as help deescalate many situations.

However, in that rare occasion where you do find someone who is intent on offering you serious bodily injury or worse, staying in the vehicle means you are immobile in a tiny box that doesn't offer much in the way of protection.

This lead me to wonder about whether there are any "bright line" rules regarding when you should stay in your vehicle vs. when you should exit the vehicle in a road rage type of situation.

I would propose the following rule for critique:

1. As long as your vehicle is not blocked in, you should stay in the vehicle. The reasoning being that the vehicle offers you more mobility so long as it is not blocked in, the legal cover of Castle Doctrine, and some very minimal protection.

I am also interested if anyone else has any suggestions on clear criteria to use to evaluate the best course of action in this type of scenario. I'm especially interested in a scenario where the vehicle is blocked in - at this point you seem to be trading mobility for Castle Doctrine - at what point do you give that up?

Brian Pfleuger
February 23, 2011, 09:27 AM
It's hard for me to imagine a scenario where my car is mobile and I would choose to exit. I would think you'd be hard pressed to avoid accusations of "voluntary participation". Even against a gun, I would think my best option for survival is LEAVE! Certainly, with a mobile vehicle against ANYTHING but a gun, leaving is the best option.

Also, it's hard to imagine how I would get into such a situation in the first place. Once again, it seems like I would have chosen to participate in some sort of altercation (such as in the other thread) and I would NOT choose to do so.

In a hypothetical situation where I am in an immobile car against an adversary threatening to use a firearm, I think you have little choice but to exit. Even giving up the castle doctrine, the assumption is virtually always that your escape must be reasonably possible to accomplish with complete safety to all innocents. The situation as described obviously makes that impossible so the question of castle doctrine protection is mute.

Being in an immobile vehicle with an adversary threatening deadly force with anything other than a firearm I think you're best to stay in the car, for many reasons. Some legal, some tactical.

February 23, 2011, 10:47 AM
A car is a much more powerfull projectile than a bullet, why would I want to leave a perfectly good weapon behind.

February 23, 2011, 10:51 AM
As long as your vehicle is not blocked in, you should stay in the vehicle.

If you are not blocked in LEAVE.

February 23, 2011, 11:15 AM
A vehicle might not offer much protection but unless you have body armor you can quickly put on I would think you would be better off staying in the car.

Brian Pfleuger
February 23, 2011, 11:41 AM
A vehicle might not offer much protection but unless you have body armor you can quickly put on I would think you would be better off staying in the car.

The conundrum is, do you want to be a stationary target protected by sheet metal or a mobile target protected by nothing? It's highly dependent on how one mentally constructs the situation.

Personally, removing all considerations except "you're being shot at and can't move the vehicle", I consider exiting the vehicle to be the highest probability for survival in most scenarios. At least I could move.

There are many variables though.

Is the vehicle likely to becomes unblocked in short order, such as at a stop light?
Where is the BG? If he's firing from the front, you have a lot of protection. If it's from the side, you have virtually none.
Can you effectively return fire without exiting and do you trust your choice of defense cartridge to make it through anything between you and the BG?
Who else is in the vehicle, if anyone, that you need to protect from incoming fire and where are they? Are they also armed? Are they mobile? Are they adults?

Many, many variables.

February 23, 2011, 11:54 AM
Getting out of the vehicle if your blocked in seems pretty bright to me. Then again, theres blocked in and then theres blocked in. You're not really blocked in at stop lights. I had a road rager come out of his car at a light at me for not lettin him out a few blocks earlier. I was armed by why stick around? I blazed a trail that clipped a pu truck bumper but I got away. Felt bad for the guy in the pu but I hadda do what I hadda do.

February 23, 2011, 12:17 PM
A vehicle doesn't offer much protection against bullets, but I can't help but think that most hard top vehicles with locked doors and rolled up windows will offer some degree of protection from impact weapons. So against a threat that isn't armed with gun, I would feel that staying in the car is the superior position, especially if I have a gun and could shoot him through my own car if needed.

About the only time I could see getting out would be if the car was immobilized and the bad guy had a gun (or the car was a convertible).

Brian Pfleuger
February 23, 2011, 12:20 PM
You're not really blocked in at stop lights.

See, that's part of the "mental construct". What if you're at a 3-lane light and you're in the middle, surrounded by 8 vehicles? You're not getting out of that unless you're Big Foot.

That's the major problem with these scenarios. I make an assumption, that I may not even be aware that I'm making, then I talk about the situation based on my assumption and you're making your own assumptions, that I'm not aware of and you may not be making consciously, and neither of us understands how the other can see it that way.:);)

February 23, 2011, 12:24 PM
I would consider my vehicle a means to create a solution even if someone is blocking me. It's just metal, plastic and rubber and bending, crushing and pushing it just costs money. I would prefer that cost (if it solves the problem) to anyone's life or health.

February 23, 2011, 12:30 PM
Up in the air.

No definite right answer. All depends. Way too many factors and instances that can happy.

Every scenario is different.

February 23, 2011, 12:31 PM
First thing you need to do is try to diffuse situations before they become road rage. This starts WITH YOUR BEHAVIOR. Realize there are crazy people in this world, and they are capable of crazy things. If somebody cuts you off, is driving like a moron, etc, LET IT GO! It will catch up to them. By flipping them off, cutting them off, etc... its just giving them a reason to target you. My dad told me to think "YOU CAN'T FIX STUPID" and let it go. Works wonders.

Second thing you should ALWAYS do when possible give yourself a way out. Don't tailgate, leave room at stop lights to maneuver, be aware of the cars around you. Obviously that isn't always possible but you can certainly leave a cars length in front of you when you stop. My Driver Ed teacher told me, If you cannot see the tires touching the ground on the car in front of you, you are WAY too close.

Third, If you are getting attacked.. STAY IN THE CAR! It provides a layer of protection against fists, knives, light projectiles. Obviously if someone has a gun it wont protect you, but at least you have mobility. That goes back to leaving yourself an out.

Getting out of the car accomplishes nothing. You are instigating a fight. You are eliminating your first layer of protection. You are eliminating your mobility. Leave room to maneuver the car, drive away, call 911, and drive to the police station, police car, hospital, landmark, etc..

February 23, 2011, 12:36 PM
all law aside, you shouldn't leave the vehicle on most occaisions. On some occaisons you might need to, but for the most part leaving the vehicle will escalate a road rage incident. calling police, leaving the situation, and waiting until you know you aren't being followed before stopping are good ideas

February 23, 2011, 01:46 PM
I agree with yougunz4life. Call 911, don't retaliate in any way & don't put others at risk by trying to out run him. Try to do your best avoidance moves & wait for help to arrive. If you can get in a position to take an exit ramp where he could not do it. If in a populated area drive to a police station (or known hang out of LE) & see if he is dumb enough to follow.

February 23, 2011, 01:59 PM
Peet, maybe you're right. I'm of the assumption that one should not let oneself get boxed in at lights. I suppose it could happen. If it appeared that no exit is possible (surrounded by semis & trash trucks)...that would be touchy. If one jumps out it may appear to witnesses that you're participatory and escalating it rather than trying to defuse the situation. Perhaps remaining in the vehicle (in low ready) would be the best option there.

February 23, 2011, 02:19 PM
I avoid road rage situations by simply staying in the right hand lane and letting the speeders fly on by me. Use turn signals, let folks in that need in.

I see this, a guy puts his turn sig on, car in other lane floors it to close the gap so the person has to wait and get behind that car. Or someone flys by me and gets in my lane hits the brakes hard and turns. :) I let them go, why worry? I will probably hear a call on them over the VFD radio :)

I stay out of the city, them city drivers are confused and run way too fast.

So to close, be polite, use turn signals, let speeders go by and stay out of the left or fast lane if possible. Ph and I forgot this, leave 5 or 10 minutes early so you will be on time and not have to speed.

If you carry, you dont really want to be involved in a road rage shooting regardless of who is at fault if it could have been avoided in any way.

I cant help it but when I read some of these scenarios I see a brain flash of a guy telling the draft recruiter he wants to go over there and kill, kill kill. :) Alice recently passed away but her resturant had a following.

Be nice to everyone no matter how they feel. Makes em feel silly after they cool off. :)

February 23, 2011, 03:14 PM
If you carry, you absolutely have to check the attitude at the door even if you feel you have personally been duped. Someone cutting you off is not worth the trouble. There was just another thread where this dude supposedly got cut off, flipped off the driver, got involved in a road rage incident, pulled over, the truck followed and he drew on the guys. Next think he knew he was in jail and charged with a number of crimes. That's NOT worth it.

February 23, 2011, 03:23 PM
If I'm driving down the road and normal road rage esclates into swerving toward me, slamming on brakes etc I'm stopping. I'll take my chances along side the road, not running 75 down the freeway putting others lifes in danger. While I'm pulling over though I'm calling 911 and explaining the situation to try and cover my rear the best I can and to get help coming.

February 23, 2011, 03:51 PM
I try to drive like I am on patrol, keep my head on a swivel, and keep an avenue of escape whenever possible. Not just for road ragers, but jackers, out of control vehicles, the odd homeless guy with a bucket of dirty water and handfull of newspapers, etc. I literally look at every driver I can see (go's with the job), and on the few occasions I have found myself the center of attention of an irate driver, I simply hold a cell phone up to my ear as if I'm already on the line with 911. With all the current "rage" legislation, it seems to get folks attention.

February 23, 2011, 04:17 PM
Situation where your car isn't mobile:

Somebody rear ends you when you pull up a bit short because traffic stopped short in front of you. Now they're mad and getting out of their car, and you're locked into traffic (say, middle of three lanes).


You swerve to avoid an object in the road, perhaps one that fell from the next vehicle up. In doing so, you lose control or simply hit another vehicle. Perhaps you are then turned around, or there is damage to the vehicle making it undrivable. The other driver is mad and getting out of their car.

Situation you're already out of the car and it's too late:

Somebody cuts you off, and impacts your bumper. They pull over into a parking lot and you follow, thinking it's a normal fender bender, the person will apologize and trade insurance information. You get out of the car to inspect the damage, and they get out of the car flippin' mad and ready to pound you into the pavement.

Point is, there are endless situations that seem innocuous at first, or that make single rules fail. Don't follow hardfast rules where good judgement and critical thinking will always get you where you need to be. Learn how to crack the nut, not when to use a nutcracker.

February 23, 2011, 05:07 PM
booker_t nailed some scenarios where the vehicle is, in fact, immobilized. In those scenarios, getting out of the car may very well be the best move.

Note: If I were to see the guy closing with a baseball bat, or some other obvious melee type weapon, I would probably opt to remain in the car, but with a weapon ready. If I were to see a guy come out, raving, but with no obvious weapon, I have to try to decide if he might just have a gun.

A lot of us do have guns, and they aren't often visible.

A car will not protect you against a gun; just check out boxotruth.com to see the Buick o'truth. Bullets zip right through sheet metal.

Engine blocks will protect; wheels will also afford some protection. Those don't help much when a nut is next to your car, and you are in the car.

Note: Navy security training way back when, we were taught to use engine block as cover, or take prone position behind, and shoot around, wheels. Doors, not so much. Staying in car, no way.

Subsequent Army training (assuming IED or shootout), also about extricating immobilized vehicle, with possible exception of turret gunner, but driver and passengers take external, covering positions.

Worst case, he's on your rear quarter with a weapon. You're in a seat. Not easy to turn to engage. He only has to shoot through a side window. (Read the Congressional report on the four Blackwater guards who were killed in Iraq; they died in just this manner - immobilized vehicles due to traffic jam, guys came up from behind and shot guards from rear quarters. Of course, these weren't road ragers, but they were assailants with firearms, vs guys in a vehicle, at least one of whom was a former SEAL.)

Now, in many cases a vehicle isn't truly immobilized. One way to help yourself avoid being pinned in, is to get in the defensive driving habit of stopping far enough behind the car in front of you that you can see its rear wheels. This allows enough room to maneuver around him to either side, assuming you aren't stuck in the middle of a multi-lane traffic jam.

February 23, 2011, 05:18 PM
Here's how I dealt with the NJ crazy drivers. I bought a '00 silver and blue crown vic ex-va state trooper car, tinted the windows, reinstalled the bull bar, its got the factory spotlight, and I threw my NRA hat on the rear deck facing. The car screams "BEHAVE" and "DON'T MESS WITH ME". Incidents of me getting cut off, screwed with, etc, dropped to near zero. Now when I take my mustang of my wife's civic our all bets are off and I get a clear picture to how people react differently to my daily driver.

February 23, 2011, 08:05 PM
What's all this talk about being blocked in? As a driver, YOU are responsible for how much space is in front of your vehicle when you stop. Unless the guy in front of me backs up, I always have a way out.

Take a Smith or other defensive driving course sometime. It really helps. It helps your temper on the road as well when "getting there" takes priority over "getting there fast".

February 23, 2011, 08:37 PM
As has been stated if the car is operable there are few situation that would require that you exit the vehicle. Even if you are blocked in you can make a hole, hop a curb... Getting out of the car will most likely escalate the situation as you will be seen by said nut job as confronting his/her manhood. If he has an impact weapon the car will offer some decent protection and leave a trail of evidence that he was the aggressor should the situation devolve into a lethal force one. Nothing says I was defending myself against a madman like your shiny new car with bat/pipe/golf club marks all over it. If he has a gun then you can use the car to gain distance or to squish him.

About the only reason I can see abandoning a car would be if it's completely disabled and your mad man is shooting at you from cover.

If your caught outside the car for some reason you can still use the car as concealment, some cover and as a barricade between you can your nut job. Let him smash the hell out of it so you can have evidence of his crazy behavior.

February 23, 2011, 11:19 PM
What's all this talk about being blocked in? As a driver, YOU are responsible for how much space is in front of your vehicle when you stop. Unless the guy in front of me backs up, I always have a way out.Might work if you're on a small road with one or two lanes. If there are lanes on each side and you're not the first car in line then you CAN be blocked in. Even when there aren't cars on each side, there can be other physical obstructions like bus stops, light poles, concrete dividers etc. that severely hamper a getaway. That's not even getting into situations where someone might be TRYING to block you in.

It's true that in some cases you can avoid being blocked in. In other situations not so much.

February 24, 2011, 12:31 PM
My Plan (with a capital P!) for what to do in case of road rage:

1. As long as I can keep moving without breaking any laws, I'll keep driving and try to lose the other driver. If I can see their license plate, I try to memorize it.

2. If I have to stop- if the other driver blocks me or if I have to obey a signal, then I will bring up 911 on my cell so I can dial quickly if the situation escalates. I will also at this point lock the doors if I forgot to when I got in the car, and roll up the windows if they're down.

3. If the other driver exits their car or gets aggressive while driving- or rams into my car while stopped, I call 911 and put the phone on speaker so I don't have to waste a hand on it and provide as much information as I can as often as I can.

4. I keep a small can of pepper spray in the car, easily accessible. If the other driver gains access to my vehicle (they'd have to break the window b/c I sure ain't gonna open it for them), I'll use it to buy myself time to either escape or get a better weapon in my hand- keeping in mind that most of the time it will be the only weapon readily at hand since I can't CCW in my home state.

5. If I manage to escape, I will keep updating the 911 operator as to my position, both in case I am followed and as insurance against the other driver accusing me of fleeing the scene.

6. As soon as I believe it is safe to do so, I will pull over and wait for the police to arrive.

I think it's a pretty good plan, I just hope I never have to test it. I've been pretty lucky on the road... seven years driving, no accidents, no tickets. For the most part I enjoy driving and try to avoid high-traffic roads... most of the impatient -CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED-s stay on the major roads, so that nicely cuts most of the stress out of driving- I only ever use highways when I'm driving long-distance or need to be somewhere fast. Driving is my cool-off time.

February 25, 2011, 11:04 AM
While driving around yesterday, I took note of every time I turned onto a new road, or was stopped, and thought about all the possibilities.

Unless you are exclusively in a rural area, you are constantly being boxed in. Even if you leave enough room to get around the car in front of you, there are a plethora of obstacles on either side. That said, in a rural area, a one-lane or narrow two-lane road might present issues, as it is common for rural roads to be lined by large trees, fences, and deep drainage ditches. I've been on narrow roads where one side is a sheer mountain face, the other a cliff. Not much room to maneuver under full throttle, especially if it is a steep inclide or downgrade.

Obstacles I noted that even a typical SUV or medium-duty truck (8-10" of ground clearance) would not be able to overcome included curbs, mailboxes, lamp posts, trees, buildings, retainer walls, guard rails, single-lane or narrow bridges and tunnels.. maybe some of these things you'd be able to get past, but with significant damage to the vehicle which may render it undrivable anyway.

Look around when you're entering or exiting a parking deck. Or just leaving the grocery store. When I leave my local grocery, it's a 2-lane access road with 8" curbs on either side, lined with dense shrubs, one side going uphill. If it's a red-light and you're surrounded by cars (as I was) in one of these choke points, even a lifted Jeep or F-350 is going to be stuck in place.

February 25, 2011, 12:00 PM
Just because a car is in front of you does not mean you cannot PUSH IT out of the way. Ram em outta the way. Yes your car will take damage but who cares. It means getting shot or leaving... Ram it.

Bartholomew Roberts
February 25, 2011, 01:22 PM
If your choices are clear cut - get shot or get boxed in, then ramming may be an option. However, I think it is important to remember that ramming can be seen as lethal force in its own right and that police have shot people in self-defense under similar scenarios.

I would want to be real careful about adopting a tactic that could be construed as a lethal threat if I am trying to avoid using lethal force.

February 25, 2011, 01:48 PM
I think that I would just stay in the car. Police already called due to speed dial. I would try to keep moving if at all possible. If things got ugly do what you have to do to protect you and yours.

February 25, 2011, 02:06 PM
Screw legality..... that's something that gets determined months or years later. You can either be at the trial, or be in the ground.

If you are involved, boxed in, and the person gets out armed and they are capable of using lethal force imminently ... you have every right to use equal force back. Gun == Car. Both are deadly weapons.

February 25, 2011, 03:21 PM
you have every right to use equal force back

Unless the car that you need to move is occupied by someone else, in which case you could be construed as deploying lethal force against an innocent. Not such a clear-cut scenario then.

February 25, 2011, 03:33 PM
I'm going to look out for number 1 here. I'm not saying plowing into someone at 70mph... merely ramming them stop a stop light. There is a very low probability that is lethal to the other car's occupants. You could say the same about shooting at a perp... you are putting innocent lives at risk from strays. It is what it is... those rules got thrown out when someone is forcing a life threatening situation upon you.

February 25, 2011, 04:03 PM
Was driving into work just today, I live in a rural area, I drive the limit cause at 3.25 per gallon I dont want to waste any. So I am going 40 or so on a winding twisty road 10 degrees and deer are moving. 2 folks, both young was behind me tailgatting me to no end. I get to a place where I can turn in and let em go, they both FLIP ME OFF as they floor it and go by me.

Act like this and you will be in a road rage situation, I laff at them and go on, but another might get upset and act ugly. Dont do it. Isnt worth it. Becides I know their folks and next firedept breakfast I will let them know how their kids act in public. Small town living.

February 25, 2011, 04:09 PM
HA... ain't that the truth. :p

February 25, 2011, 04:54 PM
Becides I know their folks and next firedept breakfast I will let them know how their kids act in public. Small town living.

maybe you can get their parents' permission to brandish a firearm next time.


February 25, 2011, 04:59 PM
maybe you can get their parents' permission to brandish a firearm next time.

I work at a college so no guns. :) I get a huge laff whenever I see a kid that hit a deer or run into the ditch. I stop, ask if I can help, call someone with my cell or hook up and pull them out.

February 25, 2011, 05:05 PM
Things are different out in the country. I grew up in a relatively small town as well in upstate NY and you would stop and help someone out. You think that happens in NJ? Heck no! If you are stranded on the side of the turnpike you would be lucky if traffic merges out of the right lane or slows down under 80mph :eek: I've been there... its not fun having people blast past that close and fast, especially when half of them are too busy talking on the cell or texting to notice you parked.

February 25, 2011, 05:39 PM
sirsloop: Just because a car is in front of you does not mean you cannot PUSH IT out of the way. Ram em outta the way.

Push it into what, the next car in line that they are probably 1' from? Ram them into what, the intersection with oncoming traffic?

Who says that the other car is even going to move? That person likely has their brakes on, and if they get hit from behind, they aren't exactly going to throw it into neutral and let you roll them wherever is convenient.

Who says your vehicle is in any way capable of pushing the other? A typical economy car isn't going to push a truck very far. A truck with a high bumper isn't going to push a plastic box from Japan, it's going to cave those panels in. There's a good chance that with any combination, between your bumper, their bumper, and the various frame members, the two vehicles get hooked up and now you're really stuck. Meanwhile the guy who may have been raging and even considering accosting you is laughing his butt off, gets back in his car and high tails it. You just did the work for him.

What if it's a box truck, a bus, a school bus, or a big rig in front of you? What if it's a mother with her infant in a baby seat that you can't see? Just put the pedal down and ram it, git-R-dun style?? Nah.. that wouldn't be considered potentially lethal. Right.

..sometimes I wonder..

February 25, 2011, 07:08 PM
My car has a push bar on the front...lol. Not gonna be able to push something real large, but it certainly could move a econocar or a light truck outta the way. :D

option 1: stay in car and get shot
option 2: get out of the car, hope to flee, possibly get shot
option 3: push a car out of the way, drive away, possibly get shot

I pick option 3, then option 2 if that fails. If any innocent people get hurt its on the aggressor with the gun and the attitude. Happened before... three guys attacked someone, the victim shot and killed one of the perps, the remaining two were apprehended and convicted of the murder of their conspirator even though it was the victim that shot him. That's the way it should be.

Btw, if me ramming someone prevents me from getting shot by some lunatic because he finds it humerous... I WON! I take a ding on insurance, maybe have to pay out of pocket to repair my car, hopefully I got his plate number, file a police report, and the guy is later arrested for aggravated assault.

February 26, 2011, 02:02 PM
Again, all that goes out the window if there's one car in front of the car ahead of you.. which, maybe you live in a 1-stoplight town, but for the vast majority of America, is highly likely.

Here's a scenario, you're stopped at a railroad crossing, and the guy behind is ticked because you didn't speed through before the barriers came down. He's behind you, cars and rolling train in front. Maybe extreme, but given time it's possible to develop a dozen similar situations that provide similar complications to any basic rule or set of rules.

Regarding the justified homicide you cite, there's a significant legal distinction between felony murder doctrine and your own actions as described, which carries a high probability of being shown as reckless and negligent. Particularly in the absence of physical evidence, a suspect, or credible witness(es).

Regarding your push bar, have you ever tried to push a parked vehicle from a standstill, with less than ten feet of standoff? I'm thinking not.. that's not exactly how they are designed to be used, and won't offer much assistance other than protecting your front end.

While action is certainly better than inaction, I think you need to take a good hard look at your options and prescribed actions. Ask yourself, if this gun-brandishing bad guy is going to shoot you anyway, why would he wait for you to push vehicles out of the way, go over curbs, crush a fence and then flee? If motivated, he'd dump the mag into your passenger compartment before you got into 2nd gear.