NATIONAL CITY, Calif. – Several recent incidents of road rage violence on San Diego-area roadways are creating cause for concern from local authorities.
The latest instance came Tuesday morning near Interstate 805 in National City when a driver attacked another driver with a baseball bat after their two vehicles collided, according to California Highway Patrol. The victim suffered minor injuries in the attack and CHP is investigating.
CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt said the return to normalcy in the waning period of the COVID-19 pandemic may be to blame for why drivers are losing it on the roadways.
“We’re starting to see traffic again,” Bettencourt said. “The normal routine of having that long commute in the morning. We’re starting to see some more of these incidents happening.”
Some of the incidents have made headlines in the region of late. Among them:
- San Diego police are investigating a separate incident Tuesday in southeast San Diego where they say a driver in an SUV stopped at a red light and pulled out a gun against another driver, firing at least three times;
- On Friday, a woman who was shot March 5 while driving on state Route 94 through the Spring Valley area died, CHP said. In that instance, investigators say a vehicle pulled up behind the woman’s vehicle and opened fire, striking the woman at least once. No arrests have been announced in that shooting;
- Video shared with FOX 5 last week captured two men brawling March 8 in the middle of Interstate 5 near downtown San Diego. A CHP spokesman said both men left the area prior to officers arriving and that neither invovled in the fight contacted the agency to report it.
In February, CHP officers were searching for a road rage suspect accused of chasing and attacking a driver with a bat at Otay Lakes Road in Chula Vista. The victim, who identified himself only as Mr. Rivera for safety reasons, said the driver hit him three or four times on his left side, resulting in him getting five stitches.
“It’s horrible that people get to that point where they just want to cause damage or harm to someone else over a little incident on the freeway,” Rivera said.
The incidents come at a time when San Diego police are reporting a year-over-year crime rise of 13% with increases in six of their seven crime categories, including murder, rape and aggravated assault. San Diego police Chief David Nisleit also pointed to the pandemic for the spike in crime, saying it’s been “difficult on everybody.”
“We’ve all been thinking about this for quite some time – is it COVID? I think it is,” Nisleit said in a news conference held last week. “I think that’s part of it, right? It’s COVID. It’s people being out of work. It’s kids being out of school, just the anger and the frustration levels of everything over the last two years.”
Rivera called the recent road rage instances “horrible.”
“Everyone’s trying to live their life and just get home to their family,” he said.
CHP recommends drivers use their turn signals and give themselves enough time to get to their destinations to avoid incidents like these. They also say to make sure to get any pictures or license plate numbers if they can to provide officers if they become a victim of road rage.