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Dangers of Road Rage Sparks Awareness After Texas Pedestrian Dies

On July 8 2011, Magda Ortiz, a 48-year-old nurse, was injured when she was hit by a pick-up truck in front of the Audie Murphy Veterans Administration Hospital. Investigators in the San Antonio Police Department think that the incident may be attributable to road rage.

Eyewitnesses report that the crash occurred about 9:25 am on that Friday and happened after the truck's driver, a 79-year-old Korean War veteran Rudulfo Zapata, allegedly became angry that his VA hospital appointment had been cancelled. Zapata left the hospital, retrieved his truck, accelerated it and swerved it onto a temporary walkway hitting Ortiz.

Road rage, often considered a form of and a result of aggressive driving, is distinguishable. Aggressive driving, per the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), occurs when "an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property." The federal highway safety watchdog says road rage is "an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or an assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway."

Poll Indicates Drivers More Concerned About Road Rage Than Drunk Driving

A recent Gallup poll indicates that motorists are more concerned about road rage than drunk driving and many Texas auto accident attorneys agree. Often the first step in preventing any adverse event is to understand the warning signs. These include speeding, tailgating, gesturing, yelling, leering, and honking.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety studied incidents of road rage in the mid 1990s and found that more than 10,000 instances of road rage occurred and that over 200 deaths resulted from this extreme form of aggressive driving. In these thousands of incidents, a gun, knife, or other weapon was used in 4400 of situations.

When encountering an aggressive driver, who exhibits the signs of road rage, proceed with caution. Most safety experts recommend that other drivers or pedestrians avoid eye contact and ignore rude or offensive gestures. Not challenging the road rager and circumventing further contact are key. Once a driver or pedestrian is safe, law enforcement should be contacted.

In early August, Magda Ortiz died from the injuries she sustained during the crash. The investigation into the matter is still ongoing, but the driver and the construction company, who designed the VA hospital walkway are being sued.