ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The Illinois State Police is warning the public about an increasing trend in road rage and associated shootings on Illinois roads and highways. This comes after they said the number of such incidents more than tripled in Chicago in 2022.
Troopers said that while the number of shootings on Chicago area highways is decreasing from a peak in 2021, victims are increasingly reporting road rage as the reason behind highway shootings. In 2022, road rage was reported in approximately 40% of Chicago area highway shootings handled by State Police, up from 12% in 2021.
So far in 2023, road rage has been reported in at least nine Chicago highway shootings, with other instances of road rage causing crashes and physical fights.
While State Police pointed to Chicago in their warning, highway shootings are not exclusively limited to that part of the state. 20 other highway shootings have been reported across the state so far in 2023, one of which claimed the lives of two people on I-57 in Kankakee County. Another shooting almost a year ago on I-74 in Champaign hospitalized two others.
Road rage is likewise a statewide issue, and it doesn’t just happen on highways. Champaign Police officers blamed road rage for an October 2021 shooting at Prospect Avenue and Town Center Boulevard that left then-24-year-old Liam Gasser with a traumatic brain injury. A suspect is facing attempted murder charges for that shooting.
State Police listed several acts of aggressive driving that often cause road rage, acts that drivers can avoid committing on the road:
- Following too closely or tailgating
- Improper or erratic lane changing
- Illegally driving on the shoulder of the road or the emergency lane, in a ditch or median or on the sidewalk
- Passing where it is prohibited
- Driving in an erratic, reckless, careless or negligent manner or suddenly changing speeds
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Failure to obey traffic laws, signs and devices
- Failure to yield to emergency personnel
- Failure to obey construction zone speed limits
- Failure to signal
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Driving above the posted speed limit
- Making an improper turn
A AAA Foundation study found that, when drivers explained why they became violent, it was because of trivial reasons like another driver wouldn’t let them pass or another driver kept tailgating them.
State Police also offered some tips on how to avoid being the victim of an aggressive driver or road rage:
- If you are in the left lane and someone wants to pass, move to your right and allow them to pass.
- When merging, make sure you have plenty of room and use your turn signal.
- If someone cuts you off, slow down and give them room to merge into your lane.
- If a speeding driver is tailgating you, safely change lanes when able.
- Avoid making gestures that might anger the other driver; create distance and avoid confrontation.
- If another driver is acting angry, don’t make eye contact.
- Call the police if you believe a driver is following or harassing you
Road rage victims are advised to call 911 or go to the nearest police department to report it.