SHARP RISE IN ROAD RAGE CRIMES WITH VICTIMS STABBED, PUNCHED, BITTEN AND SPAT AT

The number of road rage crimes has risen sharply in the UK, with thousands of offences including
attempted murders, assaults and racist abuse incidents reported in the last three years, Sky News has
found.

More than 3,500 road rage offences were recorded by police forces last year - an increase of more than a
third (39%) on 2017 and a 15% rise on 2018.

Victims have been stabbed, punched, kicked, bitten and spat at, with some dragged from their vehicles
during attacks, according to data released under the Freedom of Information Act.


Paul Eva was knocked unconscious in a road rage attack in London last year. Pic: Metropolitan Police

And despite the coronavirus pandemic - when motorists have been told not to travel unless their journey
is essential during lockdown - more than 2,300 road rage crimes were recorded between January and
October.

David Brennan claimed he was attacked by a motorist last year as he cycled to work in Glasgow and
handed footage of the incident to police.

David Brennan claimed he was attacked in a road rage incident in Glasgow. Pic: Iona Shepherd

The 47-year-old said he was later told the driver had been given a written warning and was "gobsmacked"
to learn he was also receiving a warning.


Mr Brennan, who works as a clinical scientist for the NHS, told Sky News: "As a cyclist, or anyone
who's vulnerable on the road, you don't feel protected."

He added: "When I've been on the roads, I've felt there is more aggression generally.

"I've had people shout at me, threaten me.

"Occasionally you'll get people who will give you the finger or shout various swear words at you - just because you're there really."

Sky News submitted freedom of information requests to the UK's 45 territorial police forces and British Transport Police to find out the number of reported crimes which mentioned "road rage" since 2017.

Among their responses:

 

  • Merseyside Police said a person was stabbed in the head and attacked with a metal pole in an attempted murder during a road rage incident in 2018
     
  • Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said a road rage incident in 2017 saw a motorist slash someone's neck with a Stanley knife during an attempted murder before driving off
     
  • Cambridgeshire Police said a driver took a hammer from his van and hit someone three times during a road rage incident in 2020
     
  • The force also reported that in 2020 a motorist got out of his car and punched another driver in the face before throwing the victim's car keys away, saying: "This is England, this is my country, you must give me right of way, go back to your own country"
     
  • City of London Police said a suspect allegedly bit a victim causing "GBH injuries" during a road rage incident in 2017
     
  • North Wales Police said a member of the public was head-butted after intervening during a road rage incident involving a bus driver and another person
     
  • GMP reported that a female passenger was dragged from her own car and knocked to the ground after being punched in the chest in 2017
     
  • The Police Service of Northern Ireland said a road rage incident in 2020 saw a motorist get out of his vehicle after his wing mirrors were hit and push the other driver into a hedge before pouring water over him
     
  • Bedfordshire Police said a driver waved a baseball bat out of their window and hit another vehicle's wing mirror, causing a collision in 2020
     
  • Cleveland Police said a woman got out of her car and spat at someone during a road rage incident this year


 

In total, 3,549 road rage crimes were recorded in 2019, up from 3,076 crimes in 2018 and 2,548 offences in 2017. A total of 2,361 road rage offences were recorded between January and October this year.

However the actual figures are likely to be much higher as just 24 forces out of 46 provided data on road rage crimes to Sky News.

Britain's biggest force, the Metropolitan Police, said it would cost too much to retrieve the information, while Durham Police said revealing the number of road rage offences "would place a burden on our organisation" during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Police Scotland also refused to answer on cost grounds, but the force did reveal 458 vehicle collisions had involved "aggressive driving" since 2017.

Cycling UK said the road rage figures were "alarming" and urged police forces to "adopt a zero tolerance approach to aggressive behaviour on our roads".

Duncan Dollimore, the organisation's head of campaigns, told Sky News: "If you punch somebody in any other circumstances it's called an assault, but bizarrely when it happens on a public highway it's often put down to road rage, implying that frustration on the road mitigates the crime.

"Given that losing your temper when in control of a tonne or more of metal has potentially fatal consequences for others, aggressive and violent behaviour on our roads should be treated more seriously not less.

"However we regularly receive reports from cyclists who've reported bullying, threats and assaults on the highway, where little if any action was taken against the perpetrator."

Last year, a man was jailed for a road rage attack on an 80-year-old great-grandfather who was knocked unconscious in the street.

Paul Eva was knocked unconscious after being shoved by a motorist. Pic: Metropolitan Police

CCTV footage of the assault in Penge, southeast London, was released after Paul Eva suffered serious injuries, including a broken wrist, jaw, nose and cheekbone.

John Dugdale pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

Mr Eva has since died. His death is not known to be related to the injuries he suffered.


John Dugdale was jailed for 16 months for attacking 80-year-old Paul Eva. Pic: Metropolitan Police

 

A National Police Chiefs' Council spokesman said: "Where crime has been committed, police will investigate and prosecute where appropriate to do so.

"The police service expects civility and good behaviour on the roads, as indeed we do across society, and forces routinely run awareness campaigns to encourage people to drive sensibly and in adherence to the law."

In relation to Mr Brennan's case, Police Scotland said: "Following a review of all available footage and witness testimony, two men, 47 and 37, were issued with a Recorded Police Warning following the incident in Balmore Road, Glasgow in October 2019.

"No complaint about the police action has been received by the service."