Road Rage

I can say with the utmost certainty that there is a very small, if non-existent, population of people that can say they have never experienced road rage, or have at least once in their life. If we are honest, once would be an understatement. My experience was likely altered, because I was born and raised in Southern California and from what I have read, Los Angeles was the city where road rage originated over 30 years ago.

I have been witness to family and friends (I’m guilty as well) yelling, honking, using hand gestures, and the all empowering stare when you end up next to that person at a stop light. My early childhood memories include being a passenger in the car while my stepfather chased down menacing drivers, then get out and threaten to do bodily harm. Not to mention, the thrilling game of chase as he followed inches from their bumper, or got in front of them and slammed on the brakes. I don’t remember if I was afraid of things escalating out control, or just keeping myself from tumbling around the rear deck of his Datsun 240Z, where my brother and I would sit quietly.

Road rage comes in many different forms. You can go from the internal dialog of complaining about the drivers around you to acting crazy. No matter which one you choose they all raise our blood pressure, making us upset and could potentially lead to an accident or worse.  As I write this post, I’m reminded of a story my friend shared with me recently. As he drove along the highway listening to music, he observed the lanes to his right and left occupied. Soon a Mercedes began tailgating him, flashing their brights on and off. This went on for a while and eventually, he began to get upset. This driver could easily have gotten over, but instead felt the need to create a potentially hazardous situation. By this point, my friend was in a rage, and after thinking about the consequences, he decided to slam on his brakes. Fortunately or unfortunately, the other car had automatic braking, making it impossible for an accident. The Mercedes swerved and finally went around, which he could have done miles before, eliminating any road rage or potential crash.

Driving is stressful enough these days with the added traffic, road construction, and potholes. I wonder why we, as drivers, feel the need to create these situations in the first place. Is there a deep seeded urge to teach other drivers a lesson? Have we, ourselves, never made a mistake like cutting someone off, drifting into another lane, pulling out in front of someone that we can’t forgive, and then go about our day? Are we in such a hurry, rushing from here to there, that being courteous to one another doesn’t occur to us? I think It comes down to having common courtesy.

I would be remiss not to mention staying off your cell phone while driving.  If you are holding your phone, texting, and driving, you are not able to pay attention to what is going on around you. There are so many distractions these days that holding your phone while driving is just plain stupid!

As a person who rides a motorcycle and drives a car, I am hyper-aware of road safety and try to remind myself every time I get behind the wheel what is at stake. Road rage has no place on our freeways and roadways. Maybe we should all take a few breaths before we get behind the wheel and remember everyone is trying to get somewhere alive and in one piece.  Please remember to be safe out there.


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