Last week the lives of many were impacted by a senseless tragedy that led to the death of one, and to another being charged with first-degree murder.

While shootings in Oro Valley don’t happen often, last Thursday night officers had a unique case on their hands when reports of shots fired came through the lines. Those shots were fired on Oracle Road, apparently between two vehicles in what is suspected to be a road rage incident.

The end result, two lives are ruined and their families will be impacted for many years to come.

Joshua Stephen Switalski, 22, was killed by a single gunshot wound. That bullet came from a gun suspected by police to have been fired by 21-year-old David Arnoldo Mota. One life lost, and the other will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars for a moment of anger that he can’t take back.

We all have our moments of anger, and on the road, rage has certainly become a common trait among many.

According to Oro Valley police, Switalski was driving a sedan when he got into a verbal confrontation with Mota, who was driving a pickup truck. The altercation didn’t take long to turn violent.

These days, we hear many stories that make us shake our heads. They make us ask why? What would make you so mad that you think you should pull a gun and take someone else’s life? Did he cut you off? Block you in a lane? What can someone do on the road to make a person so angry?

We all have moments where road rage is apparent. I’ve been flipped the bird on more than one occasion. I myself have wanted to do the flipping. But, I can’t say I’ve ever even thought of carrying a moment of annoyance so far.

It is difficult to find true statistics on road rage incidents. Agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Foundation, Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, or the Center for Disease Control don’t keep such numbers.

However, according to one survey conducted by the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation, American drivers ranked road rage as the No. 1 problem on U.S. roads. Forty percent of respondents ranked it as their top concern, ahead of distracted driving, drunk driving and highway congestion.

According to a AAA study, 80 percent of drivers on the road say road rage is an “extremely serious” risk that jeopardizes their safety.

Aggressive driving encompasses acts like speeding and tailgating or running a red light – acts that don’t involve another driver. Road rage is predatory, intimidating another driver, throwing objects or using a vehicle or other weapon to threaten or hurt another driver.

According to a report provided by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the power of anonymity gives an aggressive driver a false sense of control; therefore they rarely take into account the consequences of their actions.

As Mr. Mota begins going through the court system, facing a lifetime in prison, he has plenty of time to reflect on the consequences of his actions, and will certainly realize at some point that you aren’t going to be anonymous for long when you decide you have a right to pull a gun and take another’s life simply because you aren’t happy with how they are driving.

Hopefully, Mr. Mota will begin asking himself if it was worth it in the end.

(1) comment

John Flanagan

Well said, Thelma. Controlling one's anger is important, and on the road many drivers take it personally when another motorist is too slow, forgets to signal, or cuts someone off by mistake.
As a New York driver all of my life, I have been cursed at numerous times by impatient, fast, and reckless motorists, yet I generally follow the speed limit, am usually in the slower lanes, do not weave from lane to lane, and drive defensively. It boils down to two things as I see it: 1) We all need to keep our anger under control, and 2) There are too many angry people carrying guns here in Arizona and elsewhere.

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