A Texas woman on her way to work fatally shot another motorist she said attacked her after a minor collision in northwest Harris County near Houston, officials said. The incident is yet another tragic example of road rage that has been rising in the U.S.
Crystal Scott, 23, pulled into a Shell station about 7:20 a.m. Monday with the intention of exchanging insurance information with the other driver, officials said.
But then, the man got out of his pickup and ran toward Scott. He was yelling and hitting her car while she was still inside, she told investigators.
"He was attempting to open (Scott's) car door while striking the driver's side window," said Thomas Gilliland, a Harris County sheriff's deputy, reported the Houston Chronicle.
Scott grabbed a pistol and fired, striking the man in the chest.
He was pronounced dead at the scene. His name has not been released.
Last month, a New Hampshire woman, Carissa Williams, was sentenced to seven years in prison for a road rage incident that took place earlier in the year. Williams used a stun gun to zap a pregnant woman in the thigh. Williams, 24, had yelled at Corinne LeClair-Holler, 29, to get off the phone while driving. Eight miles later, when the two cars reached a New Hampshire interstate exit ramp, an armed Williams opened Leclair-Holler's door and zapped.
She was sentenced to up to seven years in prison for assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and criminal trespass.
U.S. News recently reported: In a survey of more than 500 people, 90-percent reported that they had either witnessed road rage or were a victim of it during the past year. And in the '90s, road rage led to 218 murders and 12,000 injuries over the course of seven years. Firearms and the vehicles themselves were the most commonly used weapons, and the reasons angry drivers used to explain their actions tended to be trivial--arguments over parking spaces, irritation at horn-blowing, and annoyance at slow drivers.
What constitutes road rage? The U.S. News report notes: "Any type of deliberate, unsafe behavior counts--tailgating, changing lanes erratically, illegally passing other drivers, and even gesturing and shouting." "Road rage is driving under the influence of impaired emotions," Leon James, who teaches traffic psychology at the University of Hawaii, told U.S. News. "It's triggered by mental assumptions we're making about other drivers--like assuming someone is doing something on purpose to bother you, because they're inconsiderate."
U.S. News Tips To Prevent Your Own Road Rage:
-- Take care of yourself. In general, get enough sleep--if you're tired, you're more likely to snap. And carry some snacks in your car, since hunger also ups irritability.
-- Leave earlier. Running late? Every driver is going to seem like he's moving at a snail's pace. Typical congestion will have you seeing red. Try hopping in the car and leaving earlier than you need to, so hold-ups don't feel quite so dire.
-- Take a moment to calm down. "Sometimes, your temper may flare because another driver did something dangerous to put you and your passengers at risk," says Bruce Hamilton, coordinator of research and education with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "In those cases, it's natural to feel angry and shaken." He suggests pulling over to collect your thoughts, and if necessary, calling the police to report the offending motorist.
AOL Autos Tips in How To Respond To Road Rage:
--If someone is shaking their fist and making threatening gestures, the best move you can make is pull over and let them get away from you, or turn off of your route to get away from the other car. The best way to avoid a fight is to leave it before it starts.
-If someone has left their vehicle and is confronting you on foot outside of your car, get your doors locked. Calm yourself and turn away. If you have your phone, dial 911 and let the responder know that the police are coming.
-Do not retaliate against a road rage instigator. You have no idea whether the person has a weapon. Be smart. Try to leave the area of the instigator as quickly and safely as possible.