Road rage in New Mexico: Understanding the causes and consequences

Each road rage instance in New Mexico is one too many. Unfortunately, this type of reckless behavior often has life-altering consequences for all parties involved. To build a culture of safety and accountability, it’s important to understand how these situations arise and what options victims may have in the aftermath of a road rage incident that results in injuries, either physical or psychological.

What leads to road rage?

Road rage is usually born out of personal frustration on multiple levels and not simply traffic conditions alone. In many cases, personal problems spill over into dangerous driving situations, and innocent people get hurt. These incidents often occur when drivers already angered by personal issues become enraged by slow-moving traffic or other driving behaviors deemed to be offensive. In far too many instances, people drive aggressively as they attempt to pass the “offending” vehicle and vent their rage.

A recent case

This is what happened on the southbound lanes of Interstate 25 near Santa Fe in October 2020. A 44-year-old man became enraged at another driver who he thought was merging onto the interstate too slowly. The man allegedly drew a handgun and fired a shot at the other driver’s pickup truck. The ensuing altercation lasted for several miles and came to an end when both vehicles stopped on the interstate. The man then allegedly drew his weapon again and fired several shots before fleeing the scene. Police arrested the man and charged him with lying to law enforcement, shooting from a motor vehicle, aggravated assault and attempted murder.

Criminal and civil consequences

Drivers who succumb to road rage and cause a motor vehicle accident may face civil consequences as well as criminal charges. The police report and other evidence, such as the victim’s medical expenses, may be used in a civil claim for personal injury damages. The victim may be entitled to compensation for a variety of costs, including medical care, lost income and psychological trauma. As with all types of personal injury claims, questions of insurance coverage frequently arise. It’s important to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side to ensure that you receive all the benefits and compensation you need to move forward.

For more on these matters, please see our Personal Injury FAQ.