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Staying safe in a road-rage confrontation

Deadly road-rage incidents on the rise

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A minor car crash Saturday night turned into a dispute that became violent and left one person shot and police searching for the shooter.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office responded to Highway Avenue between Edgewood and Cassat Avenues after gunfire erupted Saturday night in the Westside.

Police said it was a minor crash that led to one person being shot multiple times in the abdomen and pelvic area. The victim was taken to UF Health.

Unfortunately, deadly road-rage incidents are becoming more common. In February 2013 police said that Israel Williams admitted to getting into an argument with Thomas Schadowsky at a gas station on Dunn Avenue. 

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Another driver found Schadowsky's body in his crashed pickup, and Williams was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Then, last February, a woman was being followed by a man off of Interstate 10 as the woman was trying to get help from a relative.

Police said that the woman opened fire on the man, shooting at him at three separate locations where, luckily, no one was hurt.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said that incidents of road rage are increasing.

"Some of the main causes of road rage stem from people getting cut off, people driving distracted or people being aggravated and tailgating," Smith said.

Smith said most drivers admit they have dealt with road-rage, but he said that it usually happens in larger cities with heavy traffic.

He also said that most aggressive drivers are men 19 year old or younger and that some aggressive drivers could be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Smith does have some tips on how to keep yourself safe if you ever find yourself thrown into a road-rage confrontation.

Smith said to slow down, acknowledge your mistake and let the enraged driver pass you. He also said to get a tag number if you think the situation will escalate.

"If someone continues to follow you and there is not a police officer around, the best thing to do is to stay on a well-traveled road. Don't go off on side streets or anything like that," Smith said. 

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Smith said to try to go to a convenience store or a strip mall, as people are less likely to be violent in front of others. If you don't feel safe, stay in your car and call police.

He also said to tell them if you think you could be in an escalating situation, and police may be able to get there sooner.

"Most importantly you don't want to go home, even if there are other people there, because now that person has your address. They may not take it that far, they may not do anything after that, but you don't want to take a chance," Smith said.

Police are also looking for any information about Saturday's road-rage incident and are asking anyone with information to call CrimeStoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477).