HOUSTON - Officers from the Houston Police Department's Road Rage Task Force say they’ve received fewer reports of road rage calls in the last two years.
Nearly 70% of drivers reported experiencing at least one encounter of road rage, some of which end in violence, according to the Texas Transportation Institute.
For some victims' families like Elaine Grant-Williams, the violence has changed their lives forever.
In February, Elaine's 9-year-old granddaughter Ashanti Grand was shot during a road rage incident and has been in the hospital ever since.
"The doctors and the entire world are just amazed at how she’s progressed over the past couple of months. It’s just a miracle. It’s unbelievable," said Williams
Williams said while the numbers appear to be improving, she's hoping it eventually trickles down to zero.
"We need better. Whatever they’re doing, they need to do it even better," said Williams.
According to HPD, officers have been responding to a lower number of reports for road rage in the last few years. HPD says there’s been a 7% decrease from 2020 to 2021 and a 21% decrease from January 2021 to January 2022.
"You have a couple of very high-profile cases, very aggressive cases, and that always colors perception," said Dr. Ioannis Pavildis, a University of Houston Professor of Computer Science.
Dr. Ioannis Pavildis has spent the last decade researching what triggers driver’s road rage. He worries the numbers aren’t accurate.
"A lot of this stuff is not reported. A lot of people, actually the majority of people when they encounter road rage incidents, and then they have one of two behaviors they either flee or they do nothing. It's a very small percentage that counter attacks and call the police," Dr. Pavildis said.
HPD Officer Matthew Ham has worked with both the Safe Houston Roadways Task Force and the city’s One Safe Houston Initiative to help lower violent crime, including road rage. Ham said the task force's approach includes increasing officers on the road, education, and enforcement.
HPD advises drivers to stay calm and refrain from reacting to somebody else’s aggression on the road.
"Don’t engage aggression with aggression so if you have somebody that cuts you off, following too closely that maybe throws an obscene gesture in your way, don’t respond in kind. You have the responsibility to kind of deescalate the situation so if that means taking an exit, making a turn, doing everything you can to avoid that, that’s really the best way we’re going to lower these kinds of incidents," Ham said.