Editorial on I-88 murder: Campaign against road rage
A little more than a week ago, 43-year-old truck driver Eduardo Munoz of Northlake was shot to death during the afternoon rush hour on the I-88 Reagan Tollway in Oak Brook.
Last week, 34-year-old tow-trucker driver Anthony Tillmon of Lansing was charged with first-degree murder in the case.
There's likely a long trial ahead and it would be inappropriate to rush to judgment on Tillmon's guilt or innocence.
But let's reflect for a moment on the depth of this tragedy -- one life ended and his loved ones' lives forever altered and haunted by grief and loss; and another life at the least traumatized by a lengthy court prosecution and at the worst all but ruined by a conviction that would lead to decades in prison, his loved ones also suffering in myriad ways for incalculable time.
And for what?
For a spur-of-the-moment altercation during a random traffic encounter?
For someone's surge of impatience or uncontrollable anger? For someone's inability to let a perceived slight or mistake go?
For this, irretrievable lifetimes of pain and sorrow are the exchange? Would anyone who has a chance to pause and let cooler heads and common sense prevail reasonably agree to such a trade?
There is little doubt that road rage is a growing scourge on our highways. A study reported by Wright State University professor Randy Sansone in a 2010 issue of the Psychiatry peer-review journal observed, "Up to one third of community participants report being perpetrators of road rage, indicating that various forms of road rage are relatively commonplace."
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety describes aggressive driving as "a major concern of the American public and a real threat to the safety of all road users"
An AAA Foundation study last year found "many drivers admitted having let their anger and frustration get the best of them at least once in the past year, engaging in behaviors such as yelling, honking, gesturing at or purposefully tailgating another driver ... The same study found that nearly 8 million drivers had gotten out of their car to confront another driver or even bumped or rammed another car on purpose."
And yet, where is the public campaign against road rage, the crackdown on road rage, the all-out educational efforts to teach all of us how to properly respond to our emotions when we're behind the wheel?
It is time that we as a society give the same effort to combating road rage that we've given to campaigns to address drunken driving and that we've started to give to strategies to fight the menace of distracted driving.
It is time for a war on road rage.