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Horry County police, traffic experts caution against summertime road rage

Horry County police have responded to 50 road rage reports since January 13 and 10 since May 1, according to Lt. Raul Denis.
Horry County police have responded to 50 road rage reports since January 13 and 10 since May 1, according to Lt. Raul Denis. jblackmon@thesunnews.com

Summertime usually means an increase of vacations and travel time, which leads to more vehicles on the road -- leading to more road rage incidents.

Horry County police have responded to 50 road rage reports since January 13 and 10 since May 1, according to Lt. Raul Denis. Most reports are generated through the county’s 911 center and police usually don’t have a complainant to meet with, Denis said. Most of the complaints are classified as reckless driving or even driving under the influence.

Officers attempt to find a reckless driver “for safety’s sake,” but rush hour traffic makes it much more difficult.

“A lot of times we get these calls during rush hour where we can’t make our way to that location to look for that car easily, and then when we do they’re long gone,” Denis said.

Many road rage cases stem from the anonymity people feel while driving, Denis said. The best way to help officers identify reckless or dangerous drivers is to get an accurate description of the car – including license plate details and bumper stickers – and a description of the driver.

“Anything that makes it easier for [an] officer to follow the car or find the driver later,” Denis said.

A reckless driving charge is a six-point violation and a trip to jail, Denis said. To stem a possible road rage incident, Tiffany Wright, public relations manager for AAA Carolinas, stresses patience and respect while on the road.

“If you just get in the car with a less stressed out attitude and give yourself more time to get to your destination, you’ll be able to eliminate some of that anger,” Wright said.

Many road rage incidents are simply caused by drivers misinterpreting rude or reckless driving as a personal attack, Wright said. The key to quelling anger while driving is to remember most incidents don’t have personal reasons.

“The research shows that other people are dealing with other things in their lives and all of a sudden something sets them off,” Wright said.

Wright suggests using turn signals and merging with plenty of space to cut down on road rage. Drivers should refrain from using hand gestures – even non-obscene gestures – as well.

“Almost nothing makes another driver more angry than gestures,” Wright said. “Keep your hands on the wheel, and don’t shake your head, point fingers or anything.”

Drivers should refrain from making eye contact with aggressive motorists, because that could be interpreted as challenging, Wright said. Avoid arguments and confrontations with other drivers when possible.

“One angry driver can’t start a fight unless there’s another driver contributing,” Wright said.

If patience and politeness don’t deter aggressive drivers, Denis advises drivers to call police and explain the situation. Don’t drive recklessly to try and get away from the angry driver; instead pull into a safe, well-lighted place, such as a gas station or bank parking lot. Anywhere with potential witnesses and light can be a deterrent to aggressive people trying to start a fight.

“Some people just can’t easily let go of that anger,” Denis said.

To report a road rage incident, call 911 or Horry County police’s non emergency number at 915-5350.

Contact CLAIRE BYUN at 626-0381 and follow her on Twitter @Claire_TSN.

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