“Serious road rage incident, MPD won’t take my footage as evidence?”


“Dear PoPville,

Yesterday on my way home after picking up my 18 month old from day care, I found myself dealing with a person with some serious road rage.

Long story short, the guy kept cutting me off and tried to run me off the road at least 3 times. I called 911 and naturally the guy took off, but I decided to wait for an officer to come so I could show him the footage from my dash cam. Unfortunately the officer said it seemed like another case of aggressive driving and that they couldn’t do anything about it unless they saw it happening right there and then, so he didn’t want to see the dash cam footage.

Not sure if this is policy? I thought DC was cracking down on aggressive driving?

Anyway, I’m including a couple of stills from the incident… hopefully no one else has to deal with this nut job.”

67 Comment

  • Need a shot with the license plate visible. Time for some public shaming.

    • Road rage in a Volkswagon Golf?! It’s shameful enough that they road raged in such a pansy car.

      • I’m sorry, would you prefer that aggressive drivers take up as much space as possible and spew the maximum level of noxious fumes in addition to threatening life and limb?

      • jim_ed

        VW dorks are the worst. They think tuning something with 112 hp thats not a Honda puts them on some enlightened level, and they all blare awful techno like its 1997 while treating suburban streets like they’re at Nürburgring.

        • This guy isn’t a VW dork. He’s a racecar dork.

          VW dorks (like me) tinker with 40-year-old air-cooled engines so that one day we can have a cool Sunday driver to putter around the city with at 10mph. Wave to kids and seniors, etc. Participate in parades.

          Racecar dorks just want to go faster than the guy next to them at a stoplight.

          What kind of dorky car do YOU drive?

        • Stereotype much? Shameful.

  • I don’t necessarily want to argue too hard to defend the officer – but I can imagine a case where an actively “on duty” officer wouldn’t want to take the time to look at potentially lengthy video for something that didn’t involve an accident or (more literal) crime than aggressive or erratic driving. I can definitely imagine the case where if playing back videos of every jerk on the road became prevalent – officers would never be working their beat because they were constantly watching videos.

    That said, rather than play the video to one particular on-duty officer, perhaps you can submit the video to the/a MPD point of contact, and they can at least have the opportunity to look at it at a more convenient time.

  • Sadly, MPD’s stance is they will do nothing unless they personally witness a driver behaving badly/aggressively/illegally and they decide to cite that driver. The won’t do anything ex post facto. We’ve been dealing with similar situations with aggressive drivers trying to run down people and pets in cross walks; the community has photographed and video-ed these incidents.

    • I imagine that any video is more useful after an accident, as evidence that can be submitted in court.

  • I am not victim blaming, but what part in the initial conflict did you play.

    Road rage by its very nature requires two participants. Did you flip him off, speed up to cut him off, honk…something?

    I’ve seen a lot of crazy on the road, but I’ve never seen road rage that didn’t atleast initially begin with friction between both drivers.

    • With the same caveat – I can honestly say that with more than a million miles driven, nobody has ever tried to run me off the road three times, because after the first time they did something, I have always “let the baby have his bottle,” and put space between me and them.

    • Yup. You did something to piss him/her off. I’m not condoning what s/he did, just that people don’t do this unless it’s in reaction to something.

      • Gotta disagree with this – I’ve seen people go insane because the person in front of them is not going fast enough (re: not speeding like a banshee). Sometimes it does just take one.

        • Or the person made a mistake while driving. There are pychos out there who are ready to go off on anyone who gets in their way, intentionally or unintentionally.

        • Yes, this. My neighbor was parallel parking the other day and waited a few seconds for a biker to pass her on the right between where she was in the lane and the row of parked cars. A road raging dude behind her blew his horn and then pulled up next to her on the left (in the lane for oncoming traffic) and started shouting about “how dare you make me wait in traffic!” He got out and started banging on her window. She froze with terror until he drove away. Road rage can absolutely be unprovoked.

          • Talk about lucky. In a number of other states, your neighbor could have pulled out a gun and blew that guy away, and not gotten charged with anything.

          • gotryit

            It’s not luck that I live in DC and not Florabama.

          • Accountering

            Yes. No luck whatsoever. I choose to live in a state that doesn’t attract the crazies.

          • I have noticed this constantly. People here (more so than in other places) just don’t know how to handle someone parallel parking. They get too close, start honking, or otherwise make it impossible to park, even for someone who does it quickly.

        • +100. Also, the fact that someone is rude to you does not give you the right to threaten, assault, or batter them. I’m sure most of us encounter rude and dangerous drivers almost every day in this city, but you mutter a few curses and move on with your day. You don’t run them off the road.

      • Maybe, but as others have pointed out, that “something” isn’t necessarily “something wrong.”

      • Yes, I have done things to get psychopathic drivers angry with me. Like trying to switch lanes when there is plenty of room only to have them lay on the gas pedal. I’m not going to stop coming over because you decide to be a dick and I need to get over, or else I wouldnt be switching lanes. I have had people lose their shit over lane changes.

    • I totally agree with this comment. Most people in DC are too busy to take the time to START a road rage incident. They have places to go…people to see…. I am sure if you had just ignored the person they would have just speed by and the two of you would never have met again.

      This reminds me of my nephew that was just visiting that took a picture of his sister throwing things at him. However he conveniently forgot to include the footage of when he was teasing his sister.

      The same is true of this video. We have no idea what may have taken place before the camera was rolling or what was done out of its scope of vision. That’s why the cops can’t act on it. They need to witness it for it to be impartial.

      I find it curious that you need a dash cam. Do you find yourself in a lot of road rage incidents?

      • +1

        the OP lost all credibility at “…footage from my dash cam”

        • gotryit

          So do I lose all credibility by biking with a helmet cam?
          I choose to ride safely and in accordance with traffic laws, but I see enough dumb s#% every day that I’d like to have recorded for that one time it escalates.

          • People have dash cams for the same reason – to document incidents just in case. They are all over Russia because people fake car accidents and injuries. There is hilarious footage of cars tapping – literally – each other, and both drivers getting out grimacing in pain, holding their necks. And who knows, you might catch a comet flying through the sky or a plane crash.

    • The road rage incidents I’ve noticed have come from drivers who don’t know the laws. Like they ignore a “no left turn” sign in the center lane, or a yield sign. So when a law-abiding driver in the left lane turns left into the only available lane, or when another driver has the right-of-way, it appears to the ignorant driver that he/she is being cut off, and the ignorant driver flips out at the law-abiding person.

  • Holy crap, I think I’ve encountered this guy before! Was it a deranged-looking white guy with long hair? DC plates?

    • But I saw the guy you mentioned today! He was turning right on to L and almost ran over a pedestrian in the crosswalk. The pedestrian pointed to the light to show that he had the walk sign, and he opened his car door (!!!) to scream at the pedestrian “I don’t give a F* about that you stupid MF-er!”

      • Yes! This guy! I encountered him on 66 coming back into town from shopping one Saturday afternoon. He was driving erratically, weaving in and out of traffic. After he cut me off and came very close to running into me, I honked my horn and gave him the finger. Then he started gesturing wildly and wagging his finger at me, which I thought was a really strange reaction. Shortly after this, he recklessly went from the left lane to one of the last exits in Virginia. As I glanced over, he had rolled his window down and was screaming something unintelligible at the top of his lungs at me. I got a good laugh out of his behavior, but clearly this guy is dealing with some serious issues.

  • I hate to stereotype, but am I the only one who has noticed that a disproportionate number of VW drivers seem to drive aggressively?

  • At the risk of being annoyingly abstract: I think it’s intriguing that we have such strict enforcement of speed restrictions, because technology (radar guns, speed cameras) made that really easy to catch and demonstrate with minimal effort. In reality, speed in and of itself isn’t dangerous (with the exception of extremes like driving 65 in a 30mph zone, and at that point it’s more “wreckless” than “speeding,” besides). With the ubiquity of affordable, small dash cams with abundant storage, we now have technology that has the potential to change from a “speed always kills” mentality (and $ from ticketing that) to a more appropriate “breaking the rules of the road kills” mentality (and $ from ticketing that). We just don’t have the system yet for submitting/reviewing videos like this one, and then ticketing people who are more dangerous than someone going 65 in a 55. Hopefully that changes.

    • Yes there are a lot of asshole VW drivers. My ex was a member of a VW fan club – it seems the GTI and other VW brands are favored by the non-Asian racer crowd. They’re well made cars and not as expensive as BMWs. They were very active as a group – went out to meet at bars, drag races, etc. While the majority are nice, there were definitely a lot of asshole drivers in the bunch.

    • I don’t know of anyone who says that “speed always kills,” so I won’t address that strawman argument. Speed is always a relevant term, and whether a speed is reasonable or excessive depends on a variety of factors, including road design, traffic volume, and weather. Excessive speeding for a given set of conditions is indeed dangerous. One reason is that the field of vision for the driver narrows as the speed increases. If you are driving on a highway where there are no pedestrians or bicycles, and few locations where a vehicle can enter and exit the road, that works. If you are on city streets, with people, bikes, and cars approaching from all sides, it is very dangerous if a driver has a narrow field of vision in front of him/her. Moreover, the lethality of crashes increases with the speed. There is a lot of good information out there on why excessive speed is dangerous.

      • Reasonable or excessive speed does not depend on a variety of factors. The death rate of pedestrians and bicyclists by cars is exponential in relation to the speed of the car. I don’t remember the exact numbers, but up to 25mph, the victim has like a 15% chance of dying, whereas over 35mph, the victim has like a 70% chance of dying.

        • I really don’t want to turn this into a heated debate or anything, but to clarify my position, for one:
          Both collisions (25 and 25 mph) are bad. I wouldn’t want to be hit at either speed. The thing to remove, I suggest, isn’t so much the speed as the collision. Which sounds smart-arsed, I know, but my point is that enforcement focuses on speed such that we might very well have idiot drivers, paying zero attention, oblivious,careening through bike lanes AT 25 MPH. (Not to yell, just to emphasize since there’s no other text markup, sorry).
          Speed may be an “efficient” cause, but is not the key factor, in my view. My original comment in this thread was about a hope that increased use of dash cams, and some infrastructure to appropriately review submissions, might allow for taking actions against bad driving practices and breaking rules of the road (e.g., running a stop sign and hitting a cyclist) apart from (what I see as) mere speed enforcement.

      • Are you referring to Karlene Ball’s Useful Field of View research? Because I wasn’t aware of speed being a mitigating factor to reduction of the UFOV. I’ve also, in my studies, not come across the phenomenon of speed reducing the field of view.
        But if you have sources, I’d (not sarcastically) like to read them.
        And forgive the strawman, but the argument often gets made that way. I think speed is a correlate of other factors that lead to accidents, and one that is easy to check a box for and inflate statistics (in the extreme to illustrate: if one were barely moving, one would have whole minutes of reaction time, and impact damage would be negligible, so it’s always a truth by definition that less speed would reduce risk and severity).
        My point – and the one related to dash cams increasing the number of potential eyes on drivers for enforcement of rules and increasing safety – is that speed isn’t necessarily the aspect of driving that should be most strictly enforced, at least not to the point of the current climate of someone going 12 miles over 50 being ticketed by a speed camera, and someone like this VW driver (allegedly) nearly running into people and having no action taken against them. While a leading cause of accidents (arguably defined) speeding related crashes accounted for <18% of the economic cost of crashes in 2000, meaning the majority of accidents and fatalities have causes that go under-enforced if we attend primarily to speeding. Distracted driving, for example; cell phone use while driving has been shown by Brookings Institute and NHTSA studies to more than quadruple accident risk (and that DOES reduce one's field of view, as well as reduce the scope of scanning patterns, due to increased cognitive load).

        • Thank you for the thorough response! My source for this was simply something that I had seen DDOT present showing a sample field of vision at various speeds, and that at higher speeds, the field of vision narrows. Certainly, other factors contribute to crashes as well. I believe that the two leading factors are distracted driving and impaired driving, followed by excessive speed. The speed does have an impact on the lethality of the crash.

          Given that automated enforcement is possible with speed, but not with the other factors, I think it is beneficial. (And it has the added benefits of being unbiased, and neither the officer, the driver, nor others on the road bear the additional personal risk or congestion when a car is pulled over on our narrow or crowded roads.) I do agree with you that the other violations should also be enforced.

          Thanks for the thoughtful dialogue.

    • Speed is dangerous. I guarantee the number of car-related deaths and injuries would absolutely plummet if no one drove faster than 25mph anywhere. Also, “reckless”, not “wreckless”. Wreckless would be a good thing if you’re talking about traffic.

      • If you’ll humor me, I think your point is a bit like saying “You’re more likely to survive being stabbed by a 2 inch blade than a 7 inch blade, so we should reduce and enforce knife blade lengths.” When I’m saying, “That’s all well and good, but surely we need to focus on getting people to stop stabbing each other.”

        • I was simply addressing two incorrect things you said. It wasn’t meant to be a comprehensive response.

  • We can’t issue Notice of Infractions (NOIs aka tickets) for traffic violations if we don’t know with 100% certainty the identity of the driver is. Simply assuming it is the owner of the vehicle is not sufficient, hence why Photo Enforcement is not handled as a moving violation, but as a civil violation given to the owner of the vehicle like a parking ticket. The NOI also has to be served on the driver on the scene.
    I have had cars flee from traffic stops and I could not get a warrant for the owner of the vehicle because I did not have probable cause that he was the driver when I didn’t see the driver’s face.

    It sucks, but due process is due process.

  • OP – If you are looking for insight from Popville on this incident, I am afraid you are going to need to post the video. Can you include a link to it?

    • Yeah, I don’t understand why video is not included. What are we supposed to be able to tell from a picture?

    • No, he/she does not. The insight sought was about MPD policy, not about the incident itself. Why is the video necessary to gain insight into that?

  • IANAL, but I don’t believe you need a police office to arrest someone to initiate criminal charges, and definitely not for a civil claim.

  • I have seen lots of signs on highways urging drivers to report aggressive driving. I assume that reporting is encouraged so that some kind of action can be taken. If the video showed a driver running someone over and continuing to drive off, would the officer have said, “Sorry, I didn’t witness that vehicular homicide myself so I can’t use this video?” There seem to be a lot of “If we did not witness it, we can’t do anything about it” reports involving MPD.

    • There are different standards for CRIMINAL and CIVIL violations. Vehicular homicide would be criminal and can be handled as such, even though you would still need to prove who the driver was. Traffic violations are civil and thus cannot be handled with as broad of a reach – all this and we still can’t prove who the driver of this VW is. For all we know it’s the brother, friend, sister, cousin, son, daughter ect, ect…..

      • gotryit

        I don’t understand how some “traffic infractions” aren’t criminal charges as well. For example, someone threatening to run me over in the crosswalk is different from someone threatening to shoot me with a gun because… one is a criminal threat and the other is a “traffic infraction”. Too bad so sorry.
        If someone was just driving like a maniac on an empty road, I get it – that’s just a traffic infraction. But if they’re driving like a maniac in a manner that is threatening to another person? It should be a criminal offense.
        Yeah, I know – I’m not a lawyer.

      • Actually, that is not correct. There are traffic violations which are criminal – drunk driving for example; or speeding above a particular level.

  • Accountering

    MD tags!

  • Today’s subject of one Popviller’s aggravations is tomorrow’s Popviller who has the editor post a giant rant about how MPD overstepped their power and violated his rights over a traffic ticket. Keep that in mind.

  • A Maryland driver…I’m shocked SHOCKED! I came within INCHES of getting killed by one while on my bike yesterday morning at Vermont and H as she ran a red light.

    • Yesterday, biking up Piney Branch, a maniac in a VA work van passed the minivan that was trying to pass me. In a no passing zone, of course. That’s the annoying part. Further up the hill, I had the nicest driver I’ve ever encountered pass me. Even though it would have been perfectly safe to do so (and I wouldn’t have minded, of course), they didn’t pass until I waved them by.

      The car? A Chevy Volt. The plate? “GOVEGAN” …

      Disorienting to know there’s a car behind you but not really be able to hear it! Glad the driver was so courteous.

  • A local neighborhood MPD police officer offered that I took a video of the local pizza delivery guys speeding down the alley behind my house and sent it to him, he would arrest them for reckless driving. Yes, he said arrest. So I guess he is a bit more of an activist type. Quite frankly, I think that a stiff fine and some points would do the trick.

    I do know that DC police long ago stopped giving tickets for “accidents they didn’t see.” So the jerk who turned into my car from the right lane of 12th Street at New York Avenue didn’t get a ticket, and it was nearly impossible to get his crummy insurance company, Ameriprise, to pay the claim.
    They finally agreed to talk to the police officer, who told them that their insured was at fault. Their response? “That’s just her opinion.” A ticket for the other driver’s obvious illegal turn would have made things much easier.

  • Reckless driving is not a probable cause misdemeanor, meaning the officer must witness the offense in this case in order to make an arrest, issue tickets etc…

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