Road rage an issue as traffic gets more congested in Poconos

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You’re driving to work, alone in your car.

Another vehicle suddenly comes up behind you, starts tailgating, then comes up alongside and repeatedly tries to run you off the road.

The woman, who did not want to be identified to protect herself from possible retaliation, said she was driving south on Neola Road in Hamilton Township toward Business Route 209 when another car began tailgating her.

She described the car as a dark maroon four-door Chevy Cruze with a New York license plate. She said the driver, a white man, possibly between 55 and 65 years old, was holding a walkie-talkie.

“He tried to hit my left back bumper and then flew up next to me and tried to run me off Neola Road as I approached 209,” she said. “I barely stopped because I was scared. When I turned onto 209 south, he flew around me and tried to run me off the road again. He was pointing a black walkie-talkie at me. I don’t recall him ever honking his horn, but just pointing that walkie-talkie at me.”

Called 911
She said he then pulled off ahead of her into a parking lot and that she called 911 while merging onto Route 33.

“At that point, I thought he was gone,” she said. “Then, I was on the phone with 911, approaching the Saylorsburg exit on 33, when he caught up to me and tried to run me off the highway. He acted like he was talking on his walkie-talkie, which seemed odd.

“Then, he passed me and slammed on his brakes at the Saylorsburg exit,” she said. “He waited there until I passed him and then proceeded to turn off at that exit. Later that day, state police told me they had found the owner of the vehicle whose license plate I had given to 911, but said there are two sides to every story. Since then, I’ve heard nothing further from police.”

No one had been charged or cited in this incident as of Friday.

“I don’t know what this guy’s problem was,” she said. “Maybe I wasn’t going fast enough for him on Neola Road or something. I think the community should be aware there are scary people like this on the roads.”

Grown worse
The term “road rage” was first used in 1988 and is defined as “a motorist’s uncontrolled anger, usually provoked by another motorist’s irritating act, expressed in aggressive or violent behavior.”

Though “road rage” is not a legally defined offense with which someone can be criminally charged, it can lead to aggressive driving, such as speeding, illegal passing or weaving in and out of traffic, according to local police in Monroe County.

Aggressive driving, in turn, can result in legally defined criminal offenses such as harassment, reckless endangerment, vehicular assault or vehicular homicide.

Police agreed the problem has worsened as traffic on area roads has become more congested.

“What I’ve noticed is that the aggressive driver is almost always temper-prone, male, with average to below-average education and blue-collar,” said Pocono Township Police Chief Kent Werkheiser. “They are usually angry from a recent issue and the actual or perceived road incident is the trigger. They seem lacking in emotional and reasoning skills.”

Pointed a gun
Werkheiser recalled the case of Matthew Delcoco, 34, of East Stroudsburg, who was sentenced in September to three months of probation after pleading guilty to harassment.

In April 2012, on Cherry Lane Road, Pocono Township, Delcoco allegedly pointed a handgun at another motorist, William Hargrove, now 46, of East Stroudsburg, said something about shooting Hargrove in the chest, then aimed the gun away from Hargrove and fired.

Hargrove later told police he was showing his daughter how to drive when Delcoco came up behind them, tailgated them, then passed and twice stopped short in front of them, forcing Hargrove’s daughter to slam on the brakes.

He said Delcoco then accelerated ahead and stopped in the middle of the road, after which both men exited their vehicles while Hargrove’s daughter stayed in their vehicle.

Hargrove said that was when Delcoco pulled his gun and aimed at him, causing Hargrove to take cover behind his vehicle as Hargrove’s daughter called 911.

Delcoco told police he was annoyed Hargrove was driving so slowly ahead of him when he was trying to get to work. He said he passed them and that his vehicle then stalled, at which point Hargrove pulled up behind him and both men exited their vehicles.

He said he “jawed with Hargrove for a bit,” then pulled his gun and fired a shot into the woods to “keep Hargrove at bay.” Hargrove was not charged in this incident.

Delcoco was charged with terroristic threats, simple assault and reckless endangerment, all misdemeanors. He pleaded guilty to harassment, a citation less then a misdemeanor.

Stepped up enforcement
“Road rage has always been an issue in our jurisdiction, but I can’t say it’s increasing or decreasing,” said Capt. Brian Kimmins of Stroud Area Regional Police Department. “It’s a relatively common type of call, with most of them being verbal in nature without any assaults or damage.”

The most police can do is maintain a visible presence in traffic monitoring and enforcement, he said.

Pocono Mountain Regional Police has applied for and received grant money for enforcement against aggressive driving, said PMRP Sgt. Jeff Bowman.

The department is looking to better educate the public on the dangers of aggressive driving as well as have a stronger enforcement presence in problem areas like the five-points intersection at Routes 611 and 940, which tends to get gridlocked.

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