Police: Disengage and call 911 if confronted with a road rage

Jun 6, 2023, 7:08 PM | Updated: 7:18 pm

LEHI, Utah — A Lehi woman hopes her frightening encounter with road rage will help other drivers stay safe if they find themselves in a similar situation.

“I have never had somebody hold their horn for three minutes without letting up at me and just screaming obscenities,” recalled Laurel Dorff.

The mom of four said she was driving a route she’s been on hundreds of times as she set out to drive her children to gymnastics.

“The car in front of me hit their brakes really quickly, so I checked my blind spot and moved over to the other lane so that I wouldn’t have to hit my brakes aggressively,” Dorff explained.

As she accelerated in the new lane, a vehicle approached behind her.

“He lays on his horn and just holds it, and so he’s mad,” Dorff said. “I say, ‘Oops, sorry!’ and move over to the other lane as soon as I can.”

The driver also moved into the other lane and followed behind Dorff.

“He hasn’t let up the horn this whole time, and I can see in my rearview mirror he’s doing all these vulgar gestures,” Dorff said. “He’s yelling. He’s upset.”

She said the vehicle followed her into a left-turn lane and continued honking the entire time the light was red. Once the light turns green, the car pulls up next to Dorff’s minivan.

“He’s rolled his window down and is yelling at me and cursing at me, still gesturing wildly, and I’ve got my 6-year-old and my 3-year-old in the car with me watching this whole thing go down,” Dorff said.

Professor: Road rage often reflects what is happening in a driver’s life

Dorff did exactly what police recommended when confronted by an angry driver.

“I just stared straight ahead. Didn’t make eye contact. Didn’t engage,” she said. “But it was terrifying. I didn’t know how long he was going to keep following me. Eventually, he just did one more long honk and peeled off and was gone.”

“In most cases, when you disengage, when you back away, the other party will continue on their way—cursing under their breath or out loud about what an awful driver you are—but they’re gone,” said Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. “Anger takes so much energy than just going on. We shouldn’t weaponized our vehicles.”

Cannon said such advice could have saved two innocent lives in a suspected road-rage crash in Eagle Mountain on Sunday.

In addition to not engaging the other driver, Cannon advised to call 911 and to de-escalate the situation by driving to a public place or even to a police station.

“If you pull over to try to extricate yourself from a road rage situation and somebody comes to your car, stay in your car,” he added.

Dorff said the encounter was scary and traumatizing for her kids. She just hopes other drivers learn from her experience with road rage.

“Do everything you can to just get out of their way because there’s nothing you can do to appease them,” she said. “When they’re that angry on the road, they’re just a danger to everybody.”

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Police: Disengage and call 911 if confronted with a road rage