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Woman says she was assaulted in road rage attack, experts say it's common holiday season

(PHOTO: CBS Austin)

A Burnet County family is thanking an off-duty Austin Police officer for saving them from a road rage suspect.

Police say the armed man was pointing a gun at a family of three on a rural Burnet County road when the officer drove up.

The suspect fired at the officer when he got out of his car to intervene. The suspect was shot twice but is expected to survive.

Closer to home, an Austin woman is recovering from injuries she says were caused by a man punching her in the face during a road rage incident.

Mental health experts say they're not surprised to see this type of behavior on the roads, especially this time of year.

A counselor who specializes in anger management told CBS Austin that people have a lot more on their plate this time of the year which can lead to anxiety and chaos on the road.

One Austin woman who said she experienced that rage first hand is pleading for others to be safe and have some patience on the roadway.

Early Tuesday morning a driver who only wants to be identified as Amanda said she was frozen in fear by an angry, out of control driver.

“He punches my mirror and knocks the mirror out and that's when I got scared,” Amanda said.

She said it all started when she stopped for a train in front of some railroad tracks in south Austin.

“He cut us off and I gave him a honk. That's all I did and he flipped us off,” Amanda said.

It didn't stop there. Amanda said the man got out of his car and kicked hers. She drove to a nearby parking lot and turned her car off, but he followed her there. That's when her girlfriend started recording.

"Amanda don't do anything" Her girlfriend said as the car peeled out and drove toward the pair.

“He said I don't care if you're a man or a woman and he punched me in the face,” Amanda said.

Michael underwood is unrelated to the case, but he is a therapist and specializes in anger management. He said there's a heightened sense of emotion this time of year.

“That anxiety creates chaos and as soon as they get behind the wheel it's ‘leave me alone. I’ve got to get where I need to get and move out of my way’,” Underwood said.

Amanda doesn't disagree that the holidays cause more stress, but she doesn't think that's what caused this driver to snap.

“I don't get a word in I don't say anything and he yelled some sort of slur referring to us being lesbians and punched me again. This human being has issues,” Amanda said.

It’s been several days, but you can still see the visible result of Amanda’s injuries. Two punches to the face busted her lip and it’s still swollen, but she says it's the scars you can't see that hurt the most.

“The amount of anxiety we both have. I don't feel very comfortable driving, I'm scared, we're jumpy,” Amanda said.

Underwood said if you're put in a tense situation on the road, the best thing to do is not make eye contact with the other driver.

“Because as soon as you make the eye contact you've engaged and even if it's a silent conversation it's a conversation and you're communicating,” Underwood said.

Amanda’s girlfriend was able to capture a picture of the suspect license plate. She is pressing criminal charges for assault.

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