Winnipeg woman captures apparent road-rage incident on camera

A Winnipeg woman who said she was "freaked out" after a man got out of his car and punched her window during an apparent road-rage fit has shared video of the incident in hopes it leads to his arrest.

The woman, who said she is too afraid to be named, was driving south on Henderson Highway at around 3:40 p.m. on Wednesday. 

She said she noticed a pickup truck tailgating her, so she slowed down. The man continued to follow close behind, and eventually passed, the woman added.

"He went next to my car where he was swearing or screaming, and I was laughing in return," she said. "He sped up, went in front of my vehicle and was swerving in between lanes, and he kept braking, trying to get me to rear-end him. He was pretty irate."

She said the driver then stopped at an angle in the left-turning lane at the traffic lights at Henderson Highway and Oakland Avenue. There was a line of cars behind her waiting to turn left and several stopped at the light to her right.

Realizing she was trapped, she used her phone to record what happened next.

"He got out of his vehicle. He was shouting, ran up to my car, tried to open the door and my car's doors were locked," she said.

Then, the man punched her car window twice, as seen in the video. The woman said she instantly thought of the recent incident in Edmonton that left a woman with two broken arms after a driver attacked her with a crowbar. 

"I was pretty freaked out; I didn't believe it was happening. I just thought, 'What a tool' and thank goodness for technology that I could capture that when people behave in that manner, because that's just not right," she said.

As the man punched her vehicle, the people in the cars behind her were "honking and screaming" and didn't seem to understand why she wasn't advancing to turn left, she said. But a man from one of the cars stopped at the lights got out of his car and started yelling at the man. She said that's when the truck driver returned to his vehicle and took off.

She drove on to her destination 'stunned' over what had just happened. 

"I think he was mad that I was in front of him, I wasn't going as fast as he would like me to go. I admit, I'm probably not always the best driver, a lot of Winnipeggers aren't the best drivers, but to behave in that manner is just unbelievable."

The woman filed a report with Winnipeg police, gave them the video and man's licence plate number. While she said there is no obvious damage to her vehicle, she plans to get it looked at. 

When officers informed her that evening they hadn't tracked the man down yet because he wasn't home, she shared the video online. A Winnipeg police spokesperson says the incident is being investigated by the traffic division.

'Just nonsensical'

A member of the Winnipeg police traffic division, but who is not directly involved in the investigation, read the woman's report detailing what happened.

"To get that upset over something that happened while driving is just non-sensical," said Staff Sgt. Rob Riffel.

While road rage to the "extreme" shown in the video isn't common, he said, one or two incidents are generally reported to Winnipeg police a month. While he wasn't able to say whether women are more frequently the targets of road rage than men, he believes women are more likely to report an incident to police.

Charges could fall under mischief, uttering threats, assault and charges under the Highway Traffic Act, depending on the nature of the incident, he said, as there are no charges that pertain directly to road rage. He adds if there is cell-phone video taken by the victims, it helps with both the police investigation and prosecution.

He said if you're approached or threatened by someone in a bout of road rage, it warrants an immediate 911 call.

"It's bizarre. People just believe driving is their God-given right and if you were to interfere with it by cutting them off, or not letting them in on the lane change, or drive too slow, people just — for lack of a better word — they lose their mind."

He has the following advice for drivers who are targeted.

"Stay in your car, don't confront, don't answer. If you can leave the area, that's great. That would be the A plan. Don't get out and engage the other driver."

That advice is echoed at a driving school for "high-risk drivers" in the province.

"If someone is following too close, just pull over and let them pass," said Judy Murphy, president of Safety Services Manitoba. "Stay calm and remember they'll be out of your life in a minute."

Faith in community restored

Since sharing the video online, the woman said she has been flooded with kind words and tips from community members who recognized the man, information she is forwarding to police.

"The community came together, [they were] very supportive and restored my faith in people," she said.

She believes an eventual arrest will send a message to others who are prone to rage on the roads.

"This behaviour is unacceptable. And if you're going to behave in a certain manner in public, there's going to be repercussions for your actions."