Stay In the Car and Leave

This is a good case to examine what one should do, or not do, in a close encounter with a road raging driver.

Image courtesy Irish Typepad

Maple Grove Man Charged with Assaulting Woman in Walmart Parking Lot

The woman told police that she had been driving near her assailant, later identified as Muench, before entering the store’s parking lot, and that Muench was “jerking and swerving” and making an obscene gesture.

Muench followed her into the parking lot and threw something at her car, according to the complaint. The woman said she drove around to get a look at his car’s license plate, and that Muench stopped his car and got out.

The woman told police that she was afraid of what might happen to her son, who was in her car, so she got out to talk to Muench. When she asked him what was wrong, he punched her in the head, and continued punching her, according to the complaint.

The woman, who estimated that Muench punched her 10 times, tried to defend herself, scratching Muench and grabbing his t-shirt, according to the complaint. She told police that she didn’t know how she ended up on the ground.

Officers interviewed a witness who said he was across from Walmart when he heard a woman screaming for help. He told police that he saw Muench repeatedly punching the victim, then running to his car and driving away.

Another witness, a Walmart employee, told police that he also heard the woman screaming for help. He came outside and saw the woman lying in the parking lot and Muench driving away; the employee later identified Muench in a photo lineup, as did the victim.

The victim received medical treatment for her injuries and diagnosed with multiple facial contusions and a closed head injury, according to the complaint.

My intent is not to add insult to this woman’s injury, but she did seem to make some poor choices that we can all learn from. By considering her alternatives, we will be better prepared if a similar thing happens to us.

Several to remember about safety from attackers when you’re in your vehicle.

  1. A vehicle can usually move you away from a scene faster than your feet can.

    Assuming you’re not blocked in, if something like the above scenario happens, just drive away. If the rager follows, go to a more populated location. In this case, simply pulling up to the firelane of the store by a main entrance might have been enough to keep the man at bay.

    It’s not clear that the woman was boxed in. Perhaps Muench stopped in front of her and another car was behind her. If not, driving backwards was an option she might not have considered.

    While the woman was still in the car, this situation hadn’t escalated to where she likely had fear of great bodily harm or death. But if you ever find such a situation, you should strongly consider driving away over and through things if that can be done without getting stuck or hurting others. Property can be replaced.

  2. Leave yourself room to maneuver whenever possible.

    Leave space in front of and behind you to pull out and go around things. Parking lots and drive through lanes are places where this is more difficult.

  3. Car glass is pretty tough stuff.

    I’ve watched people in violent rages punch side windows and windshields with their hands and done nothing but hurt themselves. If the attacker doesn’t have a weapon or other hard implement to break the window and you can’t drive away, lock the doors, roll up the windows, and let those slow the attacker down or turn them away while you implement your plan to defend or escape. Hopefully, that plan is not a plan B.

  4. Road ragers are not to be reasoned with.

    Okay, fine, you did something that pissed another driver off. It happens, occasionally. But if that driver loses control, is bouncing around in his car, yelling, swerving, throwing stuff at your car, then proceeds to get out and face you down, he is not thinking clearly. At this point, YOU are not the one who is most likely to talk him down from his hysterics.

    These sorts of people usually calm down only when (a) the target of they’re ire is beyond reach (i.e. leaves the premises), (b) they realize that they stand a good chance of getting on trouble if they continue, or (c) they are confronted by someone with the means to make them stop.

Lastly, you do not help your children or other family members by placing yourself in a situation where you can get really badly hurt. Sure, most parents will do anything to protect your children. But that anything should first include safer means of resolving a problem than getting out of the protection of your vehicle to try to reason with a crazed person.

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2 Responses to Stay In the Car and Leave

  1. Pingback: Road raging driver after you? |

  2. Eva says:

    “Road ragers are not to be reasoned with.”

    Exactly right. Keep yourself safe. There’s just no point to arguing with an angry stranger.

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