[Update, Feb. 19: Police have released additional information about the incident in question, saying that the mother, upon arriving home, headed back out with her son to try to find the individual involved in an earlier confrontation on the road. The mother and son identified a vehicle matching the one from the earlier incident, police say, but they then lost track of it. It was at this point that, as pair was returning home, the shooting occurred, police say, according to the Associated Press.]
An exchange of words after a near crash has apparently led to the road-rage shooting death of Tammy Meyers, a 40-something Las Vegas mother of four, in what has become an uncomfortable reminder for a commuting nation of the most dire consequences of rudeness and lack of compassion in traffic.
Police describe the suspect who killed Ms. Meyers as a young white man with a spiked hairdo and blue or hazel eyes. The two nearly collided at an intersection and had words, and then the suspect followed Meyers back to her house.
Once there, Meyers asked a family member for help, who apparently returned gunfire after Meyers was shot. The mother, who sustained head injuries, was taken off life support Saturday night.
No doubt, it’s a scary and exceedingly tragic episode, leaving one heartbroken family and Greater Las Vegas with far more questions than answers. "He fired the shot. She's gone. And I don't have my wife," Meyers's husband, Robert Meyers, told CBS News.
On one hand, the incident fits into a long history of road-rage violence in the United States, including some recent viral videos highlighting drivers gone mad. But the frequency of road-rage murders, according to a 1990s-era study, is low, given a total of 218 such killings over six years in a country where 210 million people drive an average of 37 miles each day.
Some researchers hypothesize that road rage is more common today. On the whole, police reported 12,160 road-rage injuries between 1990 and 1996, according to the study, done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Unfortunately, no agency keeps detailed statistics on road-rage incidents. According to the surveys that have been done, males under the age of 19 are the most likely road-ragers. Moreover, half of drivers who encounter a hand gesture or other act of aggression from a fellow driver tend to return the favor, according to SafeMotorist.com.
But by far, the biggest point of complaint coming from US drivers isn't people brandishing weapons, but dummies who weave through lanes. Lead-foots figure into nearly 2 of every 3 accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In Georgia, for one, LED highway signs are now warning of a crackdown in that state on tailgating and other forms of pushy driving.
Distracted driving, the scourge of the texting age, can also play a role in tensions on the road.
But road rage is often different, more like the occasional conclusion of aggressive driving.
“People tend to feel more anonymous when they're in their vehicles," Dr. William Van Tassel, manager of AAA's driver training programs, told Autoblog.com recently. "They might behave differently than they would at the workplace, with people they don't have to deal with.”
A major manhunt continued Monday in the Las Vegas area for the suspect in the road-rage shooting.