Arlington police counter road rage with 7 arrests, 500 citations and new hotline

Police are cracking down on road rage in Arlington.

A task force assembled after a fatal road-rage shooting June 25 on Interstate 20 has so far made seven arrests and written 574 citations during 464 traffic stops related to aggressive driving, police reported.

And now there’s a road-rage hotline for reporting dangerous drivers.

The number is 817-459-5389. But police emphasize that if you’re involved in an ongoing incident with such a driver, 911 is still your first call.

The road-rage hotline is for providing information about unsafe behavior so that police can “provide follow-up communication” with a reported driver.

Police are “definitely pleased” about the results of the task force, said Sgt. VaNessa Harrison, a police spokeswoman.

“It’s hard to measure prevention,” she said, “but I have to think we’ve stopped an accident from occurring or someone from becoming injured or killed because of these enforcements.”

The police department had a road-rage hotline in the early 2000s but unplugged it in 2008 because of dwindling calls. But the topic has been rekindled by a spate of violent road confrontations that included a fatal shooting of a 19-year-old man on June 25.

Over the next three days, two other people in cars were injured in shootings in North Richland Hills and Mesquite. Also that week, a 22-year-old man accused of killing a woman in a road-rage shooting in Arlington last year was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

The task force, which officers working both covertly and in marked cars, is targeting aggressive driving that includes excessive speeding, tailgating, unsafe lane changes, driving on road shoulders to pass traffic, throwing objects at vehicles and brandishing weapons and other actions that can lead to violence.

“We hope to use this hotline as an additional tool to deter and report aggressive drivers in addition to our enforcement efforts,” Lt. Jeff Pugh, who commands the Traffic Unit, said in a statement. “We believe that there has been an increase in the frequency and severity of road rage type incidents on our area freeways. We will not tolerate driving behaviors that put the motoring public in danger and will deal with other criminal acts that occur in conjunction with aggressive driving.”

People calling the road-rage hotline should be prepared to provide their own contact information, a detailed description of the aggressive driver and vehicle, and a description, time and location of the incident.

With a license plate number, investigators in the traffic unit will be able to mail a letter to the vehicle’s owner “describing the allegation and (providing) tips on how to remain calm in traffic” and safely defuse.

“We know there are citizens throughout the city who want safe roads to travel on,” Harrison said. “We’re hoping ... that if enough attention is brought to it, that this awareness will stop the problem of aggressive driving.”

Robert Cadwallader: 817-390-7186, @Kaddmann_ST

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