Flagler Sheriff blames COVID-19 for increase in road rage and domestic violence incidents

Angry drivers behind the wheel and domestic violence on the rise in Flagler County have officials blaming the pandemic.

“Oh my God, will you get out of the way?”

The Flager County Sheriff's Office released a new public service announcement as part of its new road rage safety campaign. It's something Sheriff Rick Staley felt compelled to do after he noticed a serious uptick in road rage and domestic violence incidents in the county. 

He says there have been 18 cases fo aggravated assault so far this year, which is a lot for a small county. The sheriff blames COVID-19.

"The virus is not causing people to do this but it’s the pressures of COVID-19. They’re being locked up at home. They’re staying home more, not getting out," said Sheriff Staly.

That confinement leads to stress and arguments inside the home and on the road that then turn violent. "These trends are being seen across the country," said Staley.

These are serious road rage incidents involving weapons. In an incident at the intersection of Palm Coast Parkway and Belle Terre Parkway, deputies say somebody pulled out a gun and pointed it at another person through the passenger side window.

"Pulling a gun, pulling a knife is not the way to resolve your argument or dispute."

Sheriff Staly hopes the PSA reminds paernts to react appropriately on the road and think of the example they're setting for their children.

"It’s time to grow up and be the example," he says in the PSA.

Staley says there will be strict enforcement operations starting soon, and the county is working with mental health providers from neighboring counties to handle the domestic cases. 

"What everybody needs to undertsand is that we’re all in the same boat," said Staly.