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Cities Nationwide Working To Combat Alarming Rise In Road Rage Incidents

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Make the wrong move behind the wheel and you could be at risk of being tailgated, followed, or perhaps worse.

With an increase in the frequency and the severity of road rage incidents, with some even leading to death, CBS2's Hazel Sanchez looked into what exactly's being done to curb this destructive behavior.

As the saying goes, there are two sides to every story -- especially when we get behind the wheel. On one hand, there are drivers like Rose Bullock.

"You're going the speed limit, (while) they feel like they actually own the road," she said.

On the other, there are those like Shariff Hawkins.

"They just want to take their time and not think about everybody else," he said.

All too often, that difference in approach ends up in a road rage incident, according to attorney Howard Lesnik.

"There's so much road rage," Lesnik said. "I started representing people charged with... aggressive driving."

Now, he says, he represents just as many victims of it, like Bullock, who was recently run off the road.

"They didn't catch the person," she said. "The person never stopped."

According to a recent AAA study, as many as eight million drivers engaged in extreme examples of road rage last year. Most recently, a man shot at another car during a road rage incident on Long Island.

Road Rage
Suffolk County Police said a driver opened fire on another in a road rage incident on Feb. 12, 2019. (credit: Suffolk County Police)

"We've seen countless road rage incidents nationwide that have turned violent," New York State Police Major David Candelaria said.

Now, municipalities across the country are experimenting with new initiatives to combat the problem.

From a hotline allowing drivers to report aggressive driving, to undercover operations using officers to spot road rage related crimes, to public service announcements, states are pulling out all the stops to make the streets safer.

"There's a lot of people in cars who want to win," therapist Rachel McDavid, who specializes in anger management, said. "They think it's a competition."

The best way to protect yourself, says McDavid, is simply mouthing the words "I'm sorry." Oftentimes it can snap an angry driver out of it.

"You know it's like I've seen people completely diffuse when they get a personal response," she said.

Hawkins says he's never caused an accident, but when his anger behind the wheel started to get the best of him and his wallet he decided to change his ways.

There's even a quiz you can take to help you gain insight into your driving behavior, which you can take HERE.

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