Who ever said that a car is a potential weapon might have predicted the actions of the 26-year-old driver two days ago.
Charles Ann of Fort Lee, NJ was arrested in Flushing, NY yesterday after allegedly killing his girlfriend by intentionally running over her again and again with his 2011 Hyundai Sonata.
Ann had a spat with 25-year-old Aena Hong around 4:20 p.m. Monday in Fort Lee, NJ. She got out of the car, and as she walked through the intersection, Ann allegedly revved up his engine, took aim, and drove straight into her, knocking her down and running over her body. He then stopped, backed up, and ran over her again, stopped again, and ran over her one more time, according to witnesses.
One bystander said he attempted to stop Ann from running Hong down by banging on this window, but the driver did not stop he said.
Police located Ann in Flushing, NY yesterday in the apartment of a friend: he appeared to be preparing to flee the country while in posession of a passport and large sums of money, said the Bergen County prosecutor, John Molinelli in a prepared statement according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
“Mr. Ann waived his right to a hearing for extradition and is scheduled to be in court on Friday to be handed over to New Jersey authorities, according to a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney’s office. He is being held on $3 million bond,” reported the WSJ.
“The investigation further revealed that Ms. Hong had a tumultuous dating relationship with Charles J. Ann, and was recently trying to end the relationship,” Mr. Molinelli said.
They had been dating for about a year.
Which begs the question: why did the driver have a license if he was unable to control his emotions and used the car as a weapon? The simple answer, because no driving test in the United States measures a person’s psychological and medical aptitude for driving a potential missile.
The incident points to the fragile relationship between drivers of motor vehicles, and pedestrians and cyclists, whether they’re known to the driver or not. Many drivers who strike and kill or seriously injure others may do so simply because they are driving under the influence of emotions.
No state in this country requires drivers to undergo psychological testing for temperament or emotional maturity that could lead to acting out agressively either on people they know or strangers. Few incidents are actually prosecuted unless the driver was under the influence of alcohol, and there are no numbers tracked of psychologically-imbalanced drivers on the road who caused crashes.
In Germany, Medical Psychological Assessments, or MPA’s that measure a person’s psychological ability to drive responsibly are required for drivers who have been arrested for drunk driving or multiple infractions. Germany issues on average 100,000 MPA’s a year, and usually 50% of those have to be retaken because the offenders fail, according to Wikipedia. But no driver is given the assessment prior to obtaining their license, a more logical first step.
Furthermore, the MPA only measures a driver’s inability to drive when they have been found to be driving drunk on numerous occasions, and or have a number of driving offenses under their belt, according to Dr. Karin Muller and Gerhard Laub in a 2006 report to the First International Traffic Expert Congress. The MPA makes no attempt to measure a person’s emotional volatility, lack of empathy, or degree of likelihood to turn a car into live ammunition.
Poland requires testing of a larger group of drivers, including those with previous incidents, a drunken driving history, professional drivers, and teachers according to a 2009 report by Jadwiga Bąk, Dorota Bąk-Gajda, and Monika Ucińska of the Poland Motor Transport Institute. Those tests include psychomotor and mental abilities but perhaps more importantly, assessments of personality and temperament. Questionnaires include assesment of the personality traits neuroticism, “Ekstraversion,” and “Psychoticism.”
Among the temperament traits assessed are alertness, perserverance, sensory sensitivity, emotional reactivity, endurance and activity, said the
In an interview about his book, “Road Rage and Aggressive Driving,” Dr. Leon James placed the blame squarely on our socialization in cars, and the lack of emotional intelligence assessments in driving tests: “Road rage and aggressive driving has become common and normal in our society, for men and women, young and old, professional and inexperienced. Driving with aggressive emotions is something we learn as toddlers being driven by parents and adults who express negative emotions towards other drivers. We get conditioned to a fast pace, a competitive attitude, and a lot of risk taking and stress.”
Road rage is probably one of the most significant negative impacts on cycling in the United States after lack of infrastructure provision (or spaces on the road intended for bicycles.)
In a 2009 study, the Automobile Association of America found that 56 percent of fatal crashes were the result of aggressive driving. Aggressive and reckless driving were also found to be as important a stressor for drivers as other drunk drivers, and more important overall than any other factor they encountered on the road.