Car security includes dealing with road rage. The National Highway
Safety Administration says aggressive driving is involved in two-thirds
of the annual U.S. 40,000+ traffic deaths. As David Willis of AAA wrote,
“It’s important to understand that you can’t control the traffic,
but you can control your reaction to it. An impulsive action could ruin
the rest of your life.”
Conflicts can push otherwise normal people to commit criminal acts of rage, such as using a vehicle as a weapon or attacking a driver or their vehicle.Daniel Updike of Rochester NY gave another driver the finger – then learned he wasn’t bulletproof in his fragile shell of a car.
Aggressive driving means excessive speed, unsafe lane changes, tailgating, etc. Obstructive driving means hogging space, crawling slowly on access ramps and in the left (fast or passing) lane.
As comedian George Carlin said, “Anyone who drives faster than me is a maniac, and anyone who drives slower is a moron.”Harvin Daly honked at a car that was slow to move forward when an Orlando FL traffic light turned green. The driver of the sluggish car then shot him.
Always assume the other driver is an armed lunatic (whether armed with a gun or a car), and conduct yourself accordingly. Don’t provoke him to pull the trigger or swerve at you. The leading provocations of road rage are:
• Slowpokes in the fast lane refusing to move over to the slow lane. Worse yet are those who actually speed up to deny someone an opportunity to pass, then sadistically slow down again. Though richly deserving to be drawn and quartered, these belligerent clots in the traffic arteries must be ignored. Let the police deal with it.
• Driving while talking on a cell phone. Distracted by a remote conversation is very different from a conversation with a passenger. These drivers weave and wander about dangerously as though they’re intoxicated. And TEXTING while driving is downright LETHAL!
• Competitive driving – those pinballing through traffic and endangering the safety of everyone nearby.
• Tailgating – those who breathe down the neck of anyone in their path.
• Horn blowing and light flashing to demand right-of-way in the fast lane.
• Blocking intersections and lane changes – denying others access.
• Turning corners or changing lanes without signaling.
We have many easily-conveyed hostile gestures, such as shaking your fist or giving the one-finger-salute. Yet we have few ways to use body language to clearly signal that we’re sorry if we were in the wrong.
Perhaps a shrug, a sheepish bow, or maybe hang your head with your hand shamefully covering your eyes for a moment. Just be careful that your apology isn’t mistaken for a hostile gesture.
Be honest, admit you goofed, and be willing to tolerate a raised finger.
Don’t make eye contact, ignore any further hostilities, and drive on. Keep your cool and your distance. If harassment continues, try to safely pull over and stop so you can call the police on your cell phone.
Read “Road Rage to Road Wise” by John Larson and Carol Rodriguez – Thomas Doherty & Associates 1999.