Don't Engage - End Road Rage!
56% Chance Road Rage Was A Factor In This Accident
A Regular Good Day...
The sun was up before me, which isn't unusual. Hot and testy, I tempered it by sitting on the patio while I read the local news and sipped coffee from my favorite mug. My youngest daughter tiptoed through grass, wet from the sprinkler.
"Can you take us swimming?" she asked, hopeful and already dressed in her swimming suit.
"I suppose," I said while I quickly did a mental inventory of plans for the day. Nothing was going on that I couldn't be flexible about. I also quickly summed up that would mean that my husband and I would have a little free time together on this gorgeous day.
"I'll get beach towels and sunscreen!" she said as she ran to inform the rest of the kids.
It's All About Attitude
Just Another Day?
Dave and I decided to drive the girls to the pool and then do some shopping together for supplies for our summer garden. We needed boring stuff like another hose, sprinklers, clay pots. We took Big Red and loaded the kids in the back. I let my husband drive knowing I could help him if needed.
The sun was burning through the windows and I was glad the air conditioner worked. The kids were bantering back and forth and suddenly, we came upon an accident. There were firetrucks, ambulances, police trucks, crowds of people standing, mouth open speechless while a tow truck loaded an undamaged motorcycle onto it's bed.
"That's weird," I muttered to my husband. "Usually people around here don't stop to gawk like that. I noticed a camera crew and then my eyebrows knitted themselves together apparently knowing before I did that something was really fishy about this incident.
Road Rage Happens Here
As the news unfolded I learned that this was a case of extreme road rage. Two motorcycles traveling together crossed paths with a car driven by Grandpop who was with his wife and 9 year old grandson. Oh and a loaded .380- caliber semi-automatic pistol.
It was just one of those "regular" days. The kind where you tell yourself nothing could go wrong at the start of it. The birds were singing, the kids all the faces of health and happiness. My husband and I were going to take a drive through the country while the kids went swimming at our community center. What could be more unexceptional in the Midwest?
I am certain these two men, who by some cruel twist of fate, happened to be driving in the same easterly direction, on the same day at the same moment in time, never expected to meet. These two regular guys started out having a regular day. A split decision to act on an event that might otherwise have been more forgetful will change their lives forever.
End Road Rage
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety these are the main reasons that road rage incidents began:
- Flashing Headlights
- Rude or Obscene gestures
- Purposefully obstructing other drivers
- Verbal Abuse
You can decrease the odds of being involved in a road rage incident by avoidance of those frequent precursors.
- Leave early
- Get your car checked for safety purposes regularly
- Before you drive anywhere - make it habit it check your mirrors, seat position and gas gauge
- If traveling a long distance, make sure you have a snack or water for your road trip.
- Recognize your own triggers to stress and learn to develop a good plan for dealing with your frustration
- Do not make eye contact with other drivers
- Apologize if possible if you accidentally cut someone off for instance
- If an aggressive driver is around you, try to create distance between your vehicles
- If anyone follows you, drive to the nearest police station
- Do not use the horn to punish another driver - it is there for emergencies and to attract attention - don't attract angry attention!
Approximately 56% of car accidents are a result of aggressive driving. It is estimated that about 1200 people die each year due to road rage. In one six year period (1990 - 1996) there were at least 10,037 cases of road rage. Of those only 413 incidents were female aggressors. (In 528 cases the sex of the driver was unknown due to different reporting criteria from police agencies.)
While there are certain people that are more likely to engage in aggressive driving behavior - it can be controlled by everyone. Road rage is believed to have originated in the United States around the 1980s. One thing is certain - it hasn't gotten better. People have attacked each other with a multitude of objects after confrontation stemming from road rage. The AAA Foundation cites "firearms, knives, clubs, fists, feet, hatchets, tire irons, jack handles and baseball bats."
People have hurled objects through the windows or at vehicles. People have used Mace or other forms of Pepper Sprays - but usually it is used aggressively rather than defensively. In one case a teen was shot and killed because he threw an egg at an angry driver. Two people threw hatchets at each other after an altercation on the road.
Don't engage in behavior that can cause your own death or someone else's. Road Rage kills but a few moments of frustration can be coped with. Avoid aggressive driving and avoid others who do - why ruin a perfectly good day?