TAMPA BAY, Fla. — The I-Team set out to find out what’s really driving the explosive anger on Florida’s roads. Florida’s episodes of road rage outpace even large states, like California and Texas.
Since 2014, There have been 277 cases in Florida, 220 in Texas and 157 in California.
Law enforcement doesn’t specifically keep track of road rage cases, but we looked at five years of data from the Washington DC-based non-profit Gun Violence Archive and found Florida also leads the nation in road rage confrontations involving guns.
Since 2014, 20 people have been gunned down and 60 more injured by firearms in road rage cases.
“It’s too many people in too small an area trying to get to their place, and someone else is in their way. Put them in a small environment and there is going to be conflict,” says Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
The sheriff believes Florida’s booming population is driving tempers on the roads.
Psychologist Dr. Nydia Conrad says when frustrated drivers get behind the wheel, they stop seeing others on the road as people and more as obstacles.
“What the studies show is that as the population increases, so do the incidents of aggressive and impulsive behavior,” Dr. Conrad said. “Once you stop seeing someone as a person once you start seeing them as an object, people are more likely to act aggressively, because they don’t have empathy or sympathy toward the other human being.”
We also looked into the headline-making cases we covered since 2016 and found that several road rage suspects currently facing charges, have a history of violence and not all of them involve guns.
“The primary issue with road rage are vehicles,” Sheriff Judd said, pointing to an incident in Highland City where two drivers locked in a road rage battle with their cars. One of those angry drivers hit a building and died, impaled by a plastic fence. Investigators said no guns were involved.
“Those who want to put the gun factor in it, we’ll try this one… let’s all go back and ride horses and you won’t have road rage,” Sheriff Judd added.
Road rage in Florida by the numbers:
2018: 38 cases
2017: 95 cases
2016: 80 cases
2015: 38 cases
2014: 27 cases
Road rage cases since 2014:
Statewide: 277 cases
South Florida: 46 cases
Orlando area: 37 cases
Tampa Bay region: 37 cases
Southwest Florida: 30 cases