Until the 1990s, it was not an issue that got much attention. Such confrontations were thought to be brief and infrequent, typically no more noteworthy than the angry honking of a horn or display of an insulting gesture.

That’s what happened Thursday in Russell County, authorities said: A road-rage encounter on the JR Allen Parkway in Columbus turned into an extended back-and-forth between drivers headed to their homes in Fort Mitchell, where one man was killed and two others were wounded in a shooting at a Dollar General, across the street from a gas station where the motorists pulled over.

But research showed much of that sentiment was media-driven: People were hearing more about road rage because of news reports highlighting particularly egregious cases. “The crash data suggest that road rage is a relatively small traffic safety problem, despite the volume of news accounts and the general salience of the issue,” the NHTSA said.

But the issue since has faded from the headlines. Though most motorists likely can recall some instance in which an angry driver honked a horn, tailgated, made an obscene gesture or cut them off in traffic, the offense of “aggressive driving” is seldom charged.

“A person commits the offense of aggressive driving when he or she operates any motor vehicle with the intent to annoy, harass, molest, intimidate, injure, or obstruct another person. … Any person convicted of aggressive driving shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature.”

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