Since 2015, more than 200 homicides in Dallas have been attributed to road rage. Last Friday, another was added to that tragic list when a 59-year-old man was shot and killed in a road rage incident near Interstate 20 and U.S. 175.
Hours later, not far from where that incident occurred, a separate road rage shooting left a 14-year-old in critical condition.
According to law enforcement, the two cases are unrelated.
These stories have appeared on local newscasts on our television sets with disturbing regularity. Of course, this isn't only a local issue. The rise in road rage incidents nationwide has been meteoric in recent years, with 2021 being the worst year statistically that we've ever seen. The staggering increase in these numbers has been linked to several possible factors: Among them COVID-19 stress, the slumping economy, rising inflation, and a vitriolic political climate.
Another theory could be the sharp surge in population growth in certain cities, with Dallas and Fort Worth being near the top nationally when it comes to that. In the past decade, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has added an estimated 1.5 million new residents. With an exponential influx of new residents comes heavier traffic congestion, and with heavier traffic comes an increase in angrier, more aggressive drivers.
Local law enforcement is reportedly placing a heightened emphasis on curbing road rage. It's ambitious. It's also fair to wonder just how much of an impact a campaign like that will have. We hope it does, but this is a metropolitan area occupied by roughly seven and a half million people. And its roads are some of the most heavily trafficked in the United States. Making a dent in this pervasive and frightening trend will be a daunting undertaking.
In 2013, the Dallas Morning News reported that more than a half million people drove into Dallas County every morning. That number has likely risen significantly since. And that's not counting the traffic in neighboring Fort Worth, a city of 900,000.
For real strides to be made in curtailing this violent dilemma, it will have to come from us. The drivers. This is not an issue feasibly correctable by police alone. There are simply too many vehicles for them on the roads in a city of this size.
We've all seen inconsiderate and aggressive drivers. Some of us see them virtually every day on our commutes. Unfortunately, we have to coexist on the roads with them. But getting angry and engaging them will only escalate the situation, and too often, it's escalated into tragedies that costs lives that leave families devastated.
Think twice about the excessive honking and hand gestures. Let it go. As we're reminded routinely on local newscasts of these grim (and avoidable) stories -- it's not worth your life.