Everyone can relate to road rage. We have seen drivers lose their cool and drive erratically. We have become impatient ourselves with other drivers. As George Carlin put it, “Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” Unfortunately, it’s not a joke. Up to 1,500 people are killed or injured in road rage incidents every year. It’s a serious road safety issue that needs to be addressed alongside drunk driving and distracted driving. A 2-ton car can easily become a deadly weapon in the hands of an aggressive driver. The impatience of someone late for work or their kid’s soccer game, or any other number of reasons, can end in tragedy.
RK Venture, in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Transportation and law enforcement, has launched a campaign to bring awareness to this serious problem. The death of 4-year-old Lily Garcia from a road rage incident last October struck the Albuquerque community hard. She died after being shot in the head while riding in the back of the family truck by a man who was angry he had been cut off on the interstate.
"This is possibly one of the most wanton and atrocious acts alleged I think in the history of this city."
Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court Judge Chris J. Schultz
After an anonymous caller tipped off police, Tony Torrez was later arrested for the murder of Lilly Garcia. The community could begin to heal, but it is a long road for the families, emergency personnel, and good samaritans who stopped to help Lilly on the side of the road. Everyone involved will feel the repercussions of that day for years to come. Their lives will never be the same. We don’t want to forget what happened to Lilly. A split second decision by an aggressive driver can ruin lives.
Radio spots, billboards, police handouts, merchandising and a website (operationlillyabq.com) have been created to bring awareness and educate the public about what we all can do to End Road Rage. Operation Lilly, a campaign in bright magenta, reminds us all to calm down and remember the seriousness of our actions on the road. The police have put out more patrol cars to look out for aggressive drivers and provide them with literature on how to de-escalate conflicts on the road.
We can all learn how to better react to aggressive drivers and learn tools to better control our own emotions behind the wheel.