Dashcam video captures escalating road rage between Calgary motorists
Drivers took physical swings at each other, and one attempted to strike the other with his vehicle
A video circulating online showing a car driver and motorcyclist taking swings at each other — with their fists and their vehicles — has Calgary Police reminding drivers of the importance of sharing the road, and keeping their cool.
James Hersey was driving east on Memorial Drive, just before the Centre Street Bridge, on Sunday when his dashcam captured the altercation.
Dashcam captures incident
"I had seen the gentleman on the motorcycle make a left lane change, when unknowing to him, it appeared the car behind also made the same lane change," he said.
"I think the car took that as him cutting him off, which resulted in the car pulling out behind him and speeding past at a high rate of speed."
Things heated up shortly after that when both drivers stopped for a red light at the bridge.
"At that point, the motorcyclist pulled up beside the driver of the car and actually punched him in the face," said Hersey.
The motorcyclist then pulls in front of the car, before the driver exits his vehicle and attempts to take a swing at him.
Driver attempts to hit motorcyclist with car
Things didn't end there.
"We continued down Memorial toward Fourth Street and the car began speeding past, very close, trying to hit him. At one point, he actually fishtailed and almost lost control of his vehicle," Hersey said.
"He continued trying to hit the driver of the motorcycle with his car, and, at one point, near the end of the video, he actually reversed, trying to strike him."
Throughout the interaction, Hersey said, the two men yelled back and forth using "colourful" language.
Staff Sgt. Colin Foster of the Calgary Police Service's traffic section said after watching the video it's clear that both drivers overreacted.
'Take a chill pill'
"These two characters both need to take a chill pill," he said.
Foster said that dashcam videos are making situations like this one much easier to resolve, because it shows exactly what happened, and removes any opportunity for "he said, he said."
In this case, Foster said, the manner of driving, from the car driver specifically, will result in someone getting seriously hurt.
"That's quite clearly dangerous driving, in my mind," he said.
The officer said that when drivers who are caught up in road rage situations are confronted by police, they tend to become apologetic.
"They say, 'That's not what I'm usually like, I just got frustrated and scared ... I was foolish, I was stupid,'" he said.
'It's always somebody else that's the issue'
Foster said that on the other hand, there are those who become defensive.
"Driving, it tends to bring out the worst in people," he said. "We all think that we're great drivers and it's always somebody else that's the issue. So when we criticize people's driving, they take it very personally."
Foster said that if someone believes they are the victim of a road rage incident, the best thing to do is not engage, lock your doors, drive away, go to a police station. Or, if you can't get away: lay on the horn.
"Attract people to come to your assistance to help you and separate you from the antagonist," he said.
Hersey said he called police while the drivers were going at it Sunday.
"Obviously the driver of the motorcycle had no right to punch the driver of the car in the face, so I mean he was in the wrong there. But what escalated after that was by no means appropriate, either," he said. "They were both at fault, for sure."
Range of possible charges
Foster said there are a range of charges that can be laid in relation to road rage incidents. At the low end of the scale there are small traffic-related offences, but at the high end, drivers could be charged with careless driving, assault, mischief, dangerous driving and more.
"It all depends on the individual circumstances," he said. "But, in the majority of cases, it's just us showing up and saying 'what are you doing?' And in that cold hard light of reality people admit to overreacting and say it was out of character."
There is no open investigation into this specific incident, as the licence plate numbers aren't entirely clear, and neither driver has filed a complaint. But Foster said he'll be looking into isolating licence plates in the video and asks that if anyone recognizes the drivers that they come forward to police.
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