Death Reflects Area's Unabated Road Rage
Monday, October 24, 2005
This time, the deadly traffic duel began on a busy commuter route just south of Andrews Air Force Base, with one angry man in a blue Nissan Sentra, the other in a black, sporty Mercedes-Benz Kompressor.
What ignited the dispute that boiled into road rage that recent Wednesday isn't clear. But the incident lasted only a few minutes in the twilight in Prince George's County. And once again, blood was spilled on a local roadway not by accident or through simple carelessness but as a result of aggressive driving.
For years in this growing region, where more and more frustrated motorists are spending more and more of their hectic lives stalled on congested thoroughfares, officials have sought to stem the violence that erupts occasionally. Laws have been enacted, public awareness campaigns have been waged and concerted enforcement efforts have been carried out by police in Maryland, Virginia and the District.
From the data compiled by area law enforcement officials, it is difficult to determine whether aggressive driving has declined. But highway safety activists have said that based on what they see daily on the roads, rage continues to be a serious problem.
"If anything, it appears to be growing worse," said Peter Kissinger, president of AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety. "There are more cars, more traffic. There's more multitasking. There's more concern over time."
In the Oct. 12 Prince George's incident, "Essentially they were weaving in and out of traffic, and one cut off the other," a law enforcement official said. "One guy starts shouting profanities at the other guy. They're both [angry]. And it ratcheted up all of a sudden."
It came to a head at a traffic light at Old Alexandria Ferry Road and Virginia Avenue in Clinton.
As other motorists watched, the two drivers stopped -- Alfred L. Evans, 39, in the Mercedes, and Keith R. Ingaharra, 28, in the Nissan.
It might have ended differently, with just angry words, or maybe a punch or two thrown. It might have been just another scuffle between motorists -- like countless others in traffic-choked metropolitan areas nationwide -- if neither driver had been armed.
But one had a .45-caliber Glock.
A Tragic Turning Point
Aggressive driving and the road rage that sometimes results have long ranked high on the list of traffic-safety issues that worry police and highway officials. If there was a moment when the phenomenon also became a top concern among Washington area motorists, Kissinger said, it was on a spring morning nine years ago.
On April 17, 1996, two men, both 26, engaged in an angry, seven-mile duel on George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia, swerving from lane to lane and cutting off other vehicles at speeds reaching 80 mph. Their road rage ended in a horrific crash near McLean that killed one of the men and two other motorists, neither of whom was involved in the dispute. The surviving aggressive driver got a 10-year prison term.