The upcoming Fourth of July weekend will kick off a new effort to combat road rage in Dallas.
Police will be out in force looking not only for drunk drivers but aggressive drivers in the months ahead, according to a press release Monday afternoon.
The department's newest effort comes after another violent weekend on city streets.
Police responded to southeast Dallas Friday, where a driver fired into a car and struck a pregnant 20-year-old in the passenger seat.
Police said the woman's boyfriend and another male driver got into a road rage confrontation when the suspect pulled out a gun and shot into the car.
The woman was critically injured, but her baby was delivered and was "doing well," according to police.
Then on Sunday night, Dallas police said a driver shot at two cars in the Mountain Creek area, hitting one person in the arm.
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“It's something that we're definitely concerned about,” Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said of the shootings over the weekend.
Police will also roll out public service announcements as part of a new strategy to combat escalating violence.
About two weeks ago, the department began to deploy officers to North Dallas to search for drivers speeding and those driving aggressively following six road rage shootings in the city.
“It's all about visibility,” Garcia said. “We need more officers out, people have to take a deep breath before they go this route. It's just tragic. Innocent lives and victims.”
A frustrated police union president argued there's only so much police can do, especially when the force is understaffed.
“The community and society, they need reform,” Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata said. “They have got to fix themselves. We cannot police ourselves out of road rage. That is an individual choosing to do violence.”
Leigh Richardson Is the founder of the Brain Performance Center of Dallas.
She said these unpredictable encounters are rising. Perhaps, she said, in part because of the pandemic and increased stressors.
Richardson said research finds that although people experience three times the number of positive events, some people’s brains focus on the one negative event of the day, like someone cutting them off in traffic.
“We all have a little bit of negative self-talk going on in our brain,” she said.“ You know, 'She shouldn't do that to me! Who does she think she is?'”
She said compulsive reactions can be seen especially among young drivers whose brains have not yet fully developed. However, road rage is not age-specific.
Richardson offered advice to aggressive drivers.
“When you get behind the wheel, stop. Do a check-in. 'OK Leigh, how you doing?' Take a few deep breaths and think about how you're going to drive.”
Always leave plenty of time so you are not immediately in a rush.
Police advised people to separate themselves from aggressive drivers by changing lanes or exiting when possible.
If the aggressive driver begins to follow you, call 911 immediately.
Letting go means showing a little grace and empathy, even in the face of aggression, Richardson said.
“I do it. I can tell when someone's right on my bumper, I'll just change lanes. I'll just get out of their way. It's not worth it to me,” she said. “Sometimes someone will pull up next to you at the light and you can feel those angry eyes. Just smile at them and wave. Put some good energy out there to counteract that negative energy.”