MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee police say Sunday night’s fatal shooting of a 17-year-old girl was the first road rage-related homicide of the year, but department data shows road rage shootings have spiked over the past two years.
"It's absolutely senseless, there's no reason for it,” said Milwaukee Police Captain Jeffrey Sunn. “For some reason, it seems that individuals have lost the ability to work out things verbally and it just escalates to an extreme violence.”
Captain Sunn says so far this year, 11 road rage incidents have led to non-fatal shootings, which is one more than Milwaukee recorded in the same time frame last year. However, it is a massive increase compared to the two years prior.
"You're endangering too many people when you're cutting off cars, when you're driving fast, you never know what obstacles might jump out in front of you,” he said.
While Milwaukee police patrol city streets, the sheriff’s office is responsible for nearly 150 miles of highways and county roads.
"When we get those calls, we end up shutting down the expressway and what it does is people who are going to and from, it inconveniences them and depending on what the situation is,” said Chief Deputy Denita Ball.
Chief Deputy Ball says the sheriff’s office has already responded to 350 road rage or reckless driving incidents across Milwaukee County so far this year, compared to about 1,300 in all of 2021. Ball says the cost is substantial.
“Every time we shut down the expressway, it's about, for commerce, it's about $140,000 each hour,” she said. "You have the semis going to and from, are taking their goods and services, so yes, the state did an estimate and it's about $140,000."
Stevie Davis has been a driver’s education instructor in Milwaukee for the past two decades. He says that training includes defensive driving tactics and how to respond to road rage.
"Don't do anything that's going to provoke people to make a situation any worse,” he said. "Don't give eye contact, just drive cautiously and try to get out of the situation."
Davis says if you’re being tailgated, slow down and let the other driver pass. If they’re following you or trying to run you off the road, call 911 and drive to the nearest police station. Most importantly, do not get out of your car.
"The biggest thing is discipline yourself not to react, that's the hardest thing for people to do,” he said.
Milwaukee police say it’s also important to get a license plate number, along with a vehicle and suspect description so officers can follow up on the incident.