INDIANAPOLIS — WRTV Investigates has uncovered a disturbing trend on Indiana roadways — road rage incidents are on the rise and becoming more deadly.
According to Indiana State Police, Central Indiana had 9 interstate shootings each in 2018 and 2019. But by 2020, that number grew to 23 and increased to 65 in 2021.
So far this year, Indiana State Police have documented 61 interstate shootings in Central Indiana.
The impact to families can be devastating when road rage turns to gun violence.
Brandy Brock, 31, was shot and killed in a road rage incident on the northeast side in 2018.
Her mom, Melissa Brock, says Brandy was an innocent passenger.
"The bullet went through the trunk, through the back seat,” said Melisa Brock. “She was in the passenger seat in the front, and it killed her almost instantly."
Since Brandy’s death, road rage incidents have increased.
“Every time I hear about another road rage incident, it just brings it all back to me, over and over and over again,” said Melissa. “Brandy is in the ground. Her daughters are growing up without a mother.”
Eli Hickerson was shot and killed on I-70 in a road rage shooting in July 2022.
Hickerson, like Brandy Brock, was a passenger.
A national report from the Everytown for Gun Safety Fund says nationally, a person is shot or killed in road rage incident every 17 hours.
The report found the uptick in road rage shootings could be tied to increased stressors from the pandemic combined with record gun sales.
"Our compassion for others disappears,” said Indiana State Police Senior Trooper Nick Klingkammer. “It automatically goes to a firearm."
Senior Trooper Nick Klingkammer says our society is becoming more selfish on the roads.
“Instead of doing the bigger person approach and getting away, people are going right to guns in their anger and frustration,” said Indiana State Police Senior Trooper Nick Klingkammer.
Road rage can mean excessive speeds or other dangerous driving behaviors like following too close, weaving in and out of traffic, not using turn signals and flashing lights at people.
Indiana State Police is cracking down on road rage, and they’re increasing enforcement in areas with more road rage incidents like I-65 and I-70.
"Hopefully that's a deterrent,” said Indiana State Police Senior Trooper Nick Klingkammer.
WRTV Investigates rode along as the trooper pulled over a driver going 84 mph in a 55 mph zone on the interstate.
The driver alerted the trooper that he had a firearm in the vehicle.
“Very good I appreciate you telling me that,” said Klingkammer to the driver. “You keep that gun there, and we're not going to have any problems."
The driver received a simple speeding ticket.
But drivers who road rage can be charged with a crime even if they don’t hurt anyone.
Reckless driving is a Class C misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Year Reckless Driving Citations*(ISP only)
- 2019 1342
- 2020 1229
- 2021 1344
- 2022 1056 (as of Nov 12)
Aggressive driving, which is a combination of several dangerous driving behaviors, is a class A misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
That’s not the only expense you can face if you drive aggressively.
“Once your insurance company finds out about that, your premiums for auto insurance are going to skyrocket,” said Klingkammer. “It's not worth it."
Melissa Brock agrees it’s not worth it and is asking drivers to take a deep breath instead of lashing out at another driver.
“People have no idea how that one split second decision affects so many lives,” said Melissa. “If there's something I can do to keep one family from going through what we're going through it's all worth it."
The shooter who killed Brandy Brock was not charged because prosecutors determined he was acting in self-defense, and that the driver in Brandy’s vehicle shot first.
“She was just thrown away like a piece of trash and nobody cares,” said Melissa Brock.
The suspect accused of shooting and killing Eli Hickerson on I-70 this year, Dion Kimbrough, is charged with murder.
Kimbrough’s trial is scheduled for January 23, 2023.
TIPS ON AVOIDING ROAD RAGE INCIDENTS
- Avoid eye contact
- Don’t honk, make facial expressions or gesture at another driver
- Move over and let the other driver go by you
- If they follow you, call 911
- Try to get to a safe and public location like a police or fire department
TIPS IF YOU WITNESS A ROAD RAGE INCIDENT
- Call 911
- Give the location, description of the driver, and description of the vehicle
- Get the plate number if you can
Nearly 80 percent of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year, according to a 2016 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
A significant number of U.S. drivers reported engaging in angry and aggressive behaviors over the past year, according to the study's estimates:
- Purposefully tailgating: 51 percent (104 million drivers)
- Yelling at another driver: 47 percent (95 million drivers)
- Honking to show annoyance or anger: 45 percent (91 million drivers)
- Making angry gestures: 33 percent (67 million drivers)
- Trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes: 24 percent (49 million drivers)
- Cutting off another vehicle on purpose: 12 percent (24 million drivers)
- Getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver: 4 percent (7.6 million drivers)
- Bumping or ramming another vehicle on purpose: 3 percent (5.7 million drivers)