Florida’s road rage problem won’t be fixed before mental health crisis is solved, counselor says

EDGEWATER, Fla. — With the number of road rage incidents in Florida quickly climbing into the uncountable range, a mental health counselor said the state’s streets won’t get safer until the country’s mental health crisis is taken care of.

On Friday, Edgewater police said a driver began beating another driver over the head with a survey stake, before pulling out a gun and firing into the other driver’s truck. The attacker, 41-year-old James Seiler, was still at large as of Friday night.

The incident happened one week after a man was shot and killed on Interstate 4 in an apparent road rage incident. Other shootings and attacks have been recorded recently in Orange, Flagler, Seminole and Broward counties.


“They’re flipping that switch, and then they’re becoming very reactive,” Dr. Janie Lacy described. “That’s where, depending on the other person who they’re dealing with, it can get violent.”

Lacy, the CEO of Life Counseling Solutions, focuses her practice on anger management, which she said makes up about 60% of the calls she receives. Many of her clients attend a monthly eight-hour workshop to satisfy probation requirements for incidents like road rage.

Lacy said much of Florida’s rising problem can be sourced back to the pandemic, where fear and exhaustion sprouted other issues inside homes. The pandemic has also been tied to a rise in domestic violence and stress within American households.

Read: Soggy Saturday, rain chances stick around all weekend

Even though the initial shutdown is more than two years in the rearview mirror, Lacy said the mental health problems it caused were never solved. With anxiety growing around the country, she said it was a recipe for road rage.

“If people are walking around wounded, they get behind a car, they’re not well, so to speak, right?” she asked. “Then we get bolder because we’re behind the wheel. We don’t necessarily see the person’s face, so we take things personally. Then, whatever we’re having is now… I’m gonna take it out on you.”

Lacy said driving heightened people’s fight-or-flight responses, equating the action to lighting a fuse within people with emotional baggage and violent tendencies.

Read: Daytona Beach man arrested after exposing private parts to underage girls, police say

To solve the problem in the short-term, both she and the police said a person should never pull over or confront another driver in a road rage situation. If a need arises, they advised calling the police for help.

In the longer term, though, she said Americans will have to get help mentally if they wish to see less violence on the streets.

“There’s nothing wrong with getting help,” she offered. “I think strong people say, ‘You know what, I want to be different. And I don’t want to be the way that I was.’”

Read: UPDATE: Apopka firefighter dies after sustaining ‘significant’ work-related injury, officials say

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.