OPINION: Beware the sociopath tailgating you

Shane and Hannah Doby outside Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital, where Shane is being treated after being shot in the face during a road rage incident. Photo by Bill Torpy

Credit: Bill Torpy

Credit: Bill Torpy

Metro Atlanta roadways have fewer cars amid COVID, but streets remain mean

It should be no surprise that motorists shooting at each other or brandishing their weaponry is not uncommon on Georgia’s roads.

Carrying a gun in one’s vehicle for protection is fairly routine. And some drivers “protect” themselves from all sorts of things, whether it’s getting cut off, being inconvenienced by someone driving too slowly, or feeling threatened if another motorist looks at them. A stink eye can get a fellow nearly killed around here. Just ask Shane Doby and his wife, Hannah.

I talked with the Dobys as they left Grady Memorial Hospital, where Shane is receiving treatment after being shot in the mouth with a .45-caliber handgun last week on I-675. The couple were heading to an afternoon hike when it happened.

“I guess the guy was just having a bad day,” Doby said with a lick of understatement.

“I got lucky," he added, looking as good as a guy who was shot in the mouth a week ago can look.

The Dobys met with doctors Tuesday. They’re going to wire his jaw shut because it is broken in two places. They must rebuild the palate, perform lip reconstruction, and hope his jaw bone heals to allow for implants to replace the numerous missing teeth.

All this came about, apparently, because Doby was not driving fast enough on the interstate to suit the sociopath behind him.

Shane Doby (left) was shot in the face while driving on I-675 with his wife Hannah (right). Photo from Channel 2 Action News.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

The road rage incident is one of many I found in news stories from the past few months about metro Atlanta highways. Traffic may not be what it was before the pandemic, but we’re wound tighter these days. People are carrying all sorts of emotional baggage, whether it be a layoff, unpaid bills piling up, or just running late. Or maybe they’re mean and crazy.

Last month, Mary Lorraine Riden was shot to death in Clayton County when she got out to confront another driver. Three women were arrested. In Carroll County, a man fired six shots into a vehicle trying to get into “his” lane. No one, including a baby inside the shot-up vehicle, was hurt.

In Atlanta, a man and woman were shot outside their home in May when they didn’t pull into their driveway quickly enough. In Cherokee County, a 60-year-old woman was charged in March with forcing another car off the highway, causing the death of Ashley Faucet.

And late last month in Alpharetta, a man was charged with chasing down a woman and her child, waving a gun at them, forcing them to stop, and then puncturing her tire with a knife. Why? The woman beeped at him after he nearly struck her vehicle.

There is no official “road rage attack” category in police record-keeping. And motorists shooting at one another is only the most dangerous and egregious of highway antics out there. But uncaring and selfish stupidity is often the norm. In 2016, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety did a study and discovered that nearly 80% of drivers had engaged in some sort of “significant anger, aggression or road rage” during the previous year.

Here’s what drivers admitted: Purposefully tailgating (51%), honking to show anger (45%), making angry gestures (33%), trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes (24%).

And while no one fessed up to actually shooting at someone, about 4% admitted to getting out of their vehicle to confront another driver and, unbelievably, 3% of those queried said they had bumped another vehicle on purpose.

In May 2020, an Atlanta couple were followed home and shot in a case of road rage when they didn't pull into their driveway quickly enough, police said. Photo from Channel 2 Action News.

There is sort of an Everyman feeling about highway lunacy. We’ve all been a party to some sort of road rage or at least have been a front-seat witness. There’s even a new Russell Crowe flick out about road rage called “Unhinged.”

Shane Doby admits to being somewhat of a slow and cautious driver, which was his undoing.

As he and Hannah were headed to their hike at Stone Mountain from their Henry County home, Shane glanced up, saw a black Chevy Silverado 2500 on the tail of his Volvo and said to his wife, “Look at this @%&!”

“He was so close behind that you couldn’t slip in a piece of paper,” said Hannah, who did most of the talking because she was not shot in the mouth.

Before you ask, no, Shane wasn’t clogging the left lane. He was over to the right, minding his own business. Next thing you know, the tailgater had pulled along the driver’s side and Shane, whose window was open, mouthed the word, “What?”

The guy had his window down too. The Dobys expected him to scream his displeasure. Instead, he pointed a gun at them. Hannah hit the floorboard, Shane got shot.

“He had a cold look on his face,” she recalled. “No emotion. No emotion at all. He already had his gun on his passenger seat. His hand wasn’t shaking. This wasn’t the first time he did this.”

She saw blood and freaked, urging her husband to pull over as the shooter apparently peeled off onto I-285 going the other way.

Shane said it took maybe 30 seconds to realize he was shot. “It really rung my bell; it was surreal," he said. “I wanted to get to an exit. I wanted to get to a place where they would respond quickly.”

In fact, after being shot, Shane never swerved violently or left his lane, which makes his wife wonder if anyone saw it. Shane’s handling of the incident made it almost unnoticeable to others.

When he pulled over at the exit, his wife kept imploring him, “Look at me! Don’t close your eyes!” She worried if he did, they would not reopen.

Said Hannah, “The only thing that saved his life was his teeth. The bullet hit him straight in the mouth on the left and diverted out his (right) cheek.”

Now the Dobys, who have five kids between them, must endure health issues and medical bills. He was recently laid off from a furniture company, and her hours doing home health care have been cut drastically because of COVID-19. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family. (It has a graphic photo of Shane’s injury.) Police have also released a sketch of the assailant.

DeKalb Police released a drawing of a man wanted for shooting a motorist in the face on I-675. He is about 35 years old and driving a black Chevrolet Silverado 2500.

Credit: DeKalb County police

Credit: DeKalb County police

Hopefully, someone knows a Silverado driver who looks like the drawing.

In the meantime, let’s try to be nicer out there.

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