A dashboard camera happened to catch a horrible accident May 10—and may have revealed a bad case of road rage behind what otherwise would have seemed like an accident.
Authorities say they are still investigating whether the highway accident was intentional or not. The crash involved two San Diego vehicles, a pickup driven by Stephanie Pontarolo and a car driven by Kelsey Shakespeare. The two vehicles were moving at high speed when the “accident” happened.
In the video footage, Pontarolo is following behind Shakespeare when she suddenly changes lanes and moves up alongside her. Just seconds later, Pontarolo’s pickup truck veers sharply into Shakespeare’s smaller car, forcing her off the road.
The sharp swerve made it impossible for Pontarolo to straighten out, and both vehicles went off the shoulder together, with Pontarolo’s pickup flipping over. Both women survived with, thankfully, only minor injuries.
While police have not said for certain that this is a case of road rage, Officer Jake Sanchez of San Diego CHP confirmed they seemed disgruntled. “There was some sort of display of displeasure, on both sides I believe,” he was quoted as saying.
In the video, it’s clear that there is no other obvious reason for the pickup truck to lose control—no debris in the road, no slippery conditions, and nothing clearly distracting. That, and the extreme nature of Pontarolo’s swerve, are what make police suspect road rage.
Road rage is a deadly but sadly common factor in accidents, and can lead drivers to take actions that defy all logic. Road rage is more common with younger drivers, but is exhibited by people of all ages. Often, the driver is already tense or frustrated about something before they get behind the wheel, and then another driver does something that serves as the “breaking point” and pushes them over.
Legally, road rage changes the nature of an accident. Car accidents are normally presumed to be just that—accidents—and at worst one driver is guilty of negligence. But when road rage is involved, it adds a frightening aspect of intentionality to the accident. The accident becomes an attack.
Road rage drivers can be charged with anything from reckless driving to assault, attempted murder or murder.
However, in practice it can be hard for police officers to prove a case of road rage, especially if both drivers were acting aggressively toward each other—unless, of course, the accident happens to be caught on camera, as it was here.
No matter what the cause of an accident, if you are injured by another person’s actions you deserve compensation. Involved in an auto accident? Steinger, Iscoe & Greene offers all victims a free case evaluation to discuss options. Call us for a free evaluation today.