Road rage: What to do about inconsiderate drivers
We have all witnessed road rage. Many of us have been guilty of it personally. Taking action because of anger on a street or highway is dangerous and stupid. If you are in a hurry and another vehicle gets in your way, venting your frustration might result in a collision. If that happens you will no longer be in a hurry, no matter how important it was that you arrive at your destination in a timely fashion. If you are fortunate enough that you do not leave the scene in an ambulance, you will still have to deal with statements to the police, producing insurance information, collecting that information from the other driver or drivers, and finding a way to leave the scene if your car is not drivable. To avoid that kind of trouble you must do two things: you must avoid giving in to road rage yourself and you must do what you can to prevent being involved in the consequences of unreasonable actions by another driver.
Why do so many drivers seem so angry all the time? Part of the reason is the high-pressure world we live in. We are all (or most of us) saddled with a bewildering burden of tasks. We have jobs, houses and cars and children to take care of, finances to manage, and correspondence of various sorts to receive and respond to. It can at times seem overwhelming. Instead of writing a letter, we send an email. Those are too long and take too much time, so we “tweet” as a time-saver. Hurry, hurry, hurry. We seem to be perpetually behind and struggling to catch up. When we do take a vacation from work, it has to be a carefully orchestrated frenzy of attempting to see and do everything possible in the time allotted. Even our vacations leave us worn out. So we are constantly running behind and in a hurry to get where we are going. When that other driver cuts us off and, by doing so, makes us a little farther behind, we tend to get angry about it. We started off frustrated because we are working on a schedule we cannot possible meet. When somebody, whether intentionally or thoughtlessly, delays us even more, it escalates our frustration.
But it is not just our hectic schedules that lead us into aggressive driving. Many people view driving in traffic as a competition. Even on those occasions where they are not pressured for time they have an urge to get ahead and stay ahead. These are the drivers who speed up when you pull out to pass them. They will race to get ahead of you so they can pull back over into your lane—and then slow down. These are the people who pull over in the left lane, pass you, then whip back over in your lane so they can turn right. They do not get to where they are going any sooner, but they are ahead of you, and that is what is important to them. If you do not get out of their way when they want you to they can become enraged and do something really stupid. For too many drivers, the underlying purpose is not so much to get to their destination in a timely fashion; the purpose is to “defeat” other drivers.