Yet another road rage incident has ended badly in America. This time a California dad is lying in a hospital bed after being stabbed in front of his 5-year-old after an altercation that began behind the wheel.
Cops say 21-year-old Travis David Painter of San Jose was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly stabbing a man who cut him off on the highway, then motioned for him to pull over. The unidentified dad is going to survive after being taken to the hospital, but the whole incident occurred in front of his 5-year-old son.
Frustrating doesn’t begin the cover this sort of news.
We live in a nation of cars — some 254.4 million of them, according to Bureau of Transportation Statistics — and getting annoyed at someone else’s driving is part of being human. But of late there have been a number of startling road rage cases in which the drivers weren’t the only ones involved; their kids were too.
Just a few weeks ago in New Mexico, a 4-year-old was shot and killed in a road rage incident in Albuquerque. In July, a young Florida boy watched as his grandfather was gunned down in front of him by a man who is accused of then holding the entire family at gunpoint in yet another fight over driving.
Even more startling? It’s estimated that during one seven-year period, 218 murders and 12,610 injuries were attributed to road rage.
Clearly we need to rein in our feelings when we’re behind the wheel for our own safety and that of those around us, but incidents like these point to an extra bit of emotional restraint when we have our kids in the car.
Sure, not every road rage incident ends in violence, so chances of your 5-year-old watching you get stabbed may be low (hopefully!) if you honk your horn and creep up on someone’s bumper. But aside from the risk of violence, high-anger drivers have been shown to have twice the number of car accidents as their calmer compatriots, meaning you’re putting your child at risk of being hurt in an auto accident.
What’s more, kids watch everything we do. Letting road rage take control means teaching your kids that it’s acceptable to drive angry and aggressively — something that could play out down the road when they are the one taking the wheel.
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Not sure how to quell your taste for rage? Put down the cellphone, reduce the use of your horn, limit lane changes, and maintain a safe distance behind other drivers. A driver’s education course can also help you pinpoint the practices you may often violate, while anger management can help you get hold of your rage.