My wife and I were driving home one evening on the interstate. We were talking and laughing while we cruised along towards home. Suddenly, I realized I was about to pass the exit we needed to take. I glanced in the rear view mirror and just barely made it onto the exit ramp. Suddenly there was the sound of a blaring car horn. To my right was a driver passing me down the shoulder of the off ramp. His car tires were kicking up gravel and sand. Then, he did what I would not have expected. Instead of slowing down to get behind me, or speeding up to get in front of me, he swerved his car over into mine. His left rear fender, hit my right front fender. I slammed on my brakes to get away from him. He cut back across in front of me and accelerated on down the exit ramp.
Well you have heard the old saying, “Don’t poke a sleeping bear.” Well, this crazy driver just poked a retired “Bear.” I had retired from the Sheriff’s Office about a year earlier. Call it pride or whatever, but this guy had just purposely rammed into my car and I was not about to let him get away with it!
The blue Buick turned right onto Palm Beach Blvd, and I was right behind him. My wife was on the phone calling 911. When she got the Sheriff’s office on the line, she handed the phone to me. I told the 911 operator who I was and the operator remembered me from the fifteen years I spent as a Deputy Sheriff with Lee County Florida. I I told her how the other driver had hit my car, apparently on purpose and that he had drove off without even slowing down. I told her I was following him at a safe distance. I explained that we were not exceeding any speed limits. I gave her a blow by blow update of our location and direction of travel. At one point the driver of the buick slowed to turn left, at which point we caught up to him and were able to read his tag number to the Sheriff’s dispatcher. The driver took a few more turns and then pulled over and stopped, in a rather isolated area. I was carrying a snub nose 38 special, and I kept it low and out of site as I rolled down my window about four inches. The other driver was getting out of his car and started walking back towards us. I called out loudly to him, “Stop right there. I have the Sheriff’s Office on the phone. A deputy is on the way. Just wait right there, don’t come any closer!”
The other driver got back into his car and drove another half mile, then turned into a retirement mobile home park. I knew the area well, as I had worked in that area as a Deputy Sheriff for fifteen years. I decided to wait near the entrance, out on the main road. The mobile home park only had one entrance and exit. If he was trying to escape, he had to come back out the same way. If he lived in there, I had him.
Within a few minutes, a Sheriff’s patrol car pulled up alongside me. I did not know the Deputy and he did not know me. I introduced myself as a retired Deputy, and described to him what happened back on the Interstate off ramp. I included the fact that I had most likely changed lanes a little too close. I explained that my error in driving did not cause the collision, which happened at least a hundred yards further down the off ramp. He took my driver’s license and other paper work. He got the name and address of the other driver from the tag number I had given him. Telling me to wait where I was, he drove into the park. After about twenty minutes, the deputy came back and met with me again. He grinned as he told me the guy denied everything. But then the deputy pointed out the damage and a can of car wax the guy had used to try and polish out the scratches on his left rear fender, which included traces of white paint from my Toyota’s right front fender. The guy claimed he not not used the car all day, yet his engine was still warm. The deputy wrote him several traffic tickets including “hit and run.”
Several months later, I got a subpoena to appear in traffic court. The guy was pleading “Not Guilty.” I called the prosecutor who was assigned to the case. I suggested that he inform the other driver’s attorney that I was a retired deputy. The prosecutor called me back about an hour later and told me the other driver decided to plead guilty!
Some advice about “road rage.” I do not advise doing what I did in the above scenario. Following an offender might just enrage them even more.
- Don’t get road rage yourself! Besides all kinds of legal problems, it’s not healthy!
- Don’t tap your brakes when someone is following you too close.
- If they are following too close, if it’s safe to do so, speed up a little to increase the distance between you and the other driver.
- Look for an area to turn off, to get away from them.
- But, don’t get yourself trapped in case the enraged driver decides to confront you.
- Always, Always, Leave room in front of your car to pull away and escape!
- If the other driver does try to confront you, get on 911 while you attempt to drive away.
- Give the 911 operator your location, direction of travel, the description of your car and the description of the other car and driver.
- Following the offender might just enrage them even more. You really don’t know who you are dealing with. They could be a wanted felon for all you know. They could be armed. The last thing a
- wanted felon wants to do is meet up with Law Enforcement to report a traffic wreck.
- If your car is disabled and you cannot escape, I hope you are armed and trained, in case the enraged driver attacks you. Take Concealed Training “before” you need it.
- Drawing a gun inside a car has a whole new set of problems to overcome. Getting your gun out while seated, especially getting past your seatbelt takes a lot of practice. You also will need to avoid getting tangled up with the shift knob and your steering wheel. Using an empty gun, you should practice shooting drills from various positions inside your car. Following Gun Safety while dry firing inside your car is important, so you will be ready in an emergency.
- Remember: You cannot use deadly force, unless and until you are threatened with deadly force. After a high stress incident, such a road rage, your emotions will be heightened and you will feel threatened, if the enraged driver is now coming toward you shaking his fist.
- You cannot threaten someone with deadly force, just because he looks angry.
- Do what I did shout it loud and clear, “The Cops have been called and are on their way!” If he comes closer, yell loud and clear, “Back away! Do not come any closer!”
- If you have a firearm, do NOT show it until you are actually threatened with deadly force.
All of us who believe in our 2nd Amendment right to defend ourselves, must get Concealed Carry Training and Learn Gun Safety. Find a Certified Firearms Instructor near you and take as many Pistol Training classes as possible. Study and know your state’s self defense laws, so you do not end up in jail instead of the bad guy. There are some great Gun Safety and online Gun Training right here on Legally Concealed.org