The Results Of Road Rage

By Ron Ciancutti

I was sitting in my car with the left blinker on near a “no left turn” sign the other day. I was merely attempting to turn into my driveway. To the average motorist it may have appeared I was about to advance illegally, but I wasn’t. As I waited for oncoming traffic to go by, drivers who came up behind me had plenty of time and room to slide into the other lane and pass me on the right. Most folks easily complied.

A Moment Of Weakness
But as I glanced in my rearview mirror, I suddenly saw a car quickly approaching. The driver had the top down and the radio blasting. Instead of slowing down when he saw me, he sped up, laid on the horn the whole way, and then swerved at the last minute, yelling foul language and “NO LEFT TURN” as he passed. I took a deep breath, looked in the mirror, told myself not to take it the wrong way, but then something inside me just burst. I swung the wheel wildly into the right lane and followed that foul-mouthed son of a gun all the way to the next red light. He was in the turning lane, and I maneuvered next to him so my driver’s door was about an inch from his passenger door. With his top down, there was no place to hide. I was seething. “I happen to live there,” I screamed. “Is that OK with you? I didn’t realize you were in charge!”

Reacting And Reflecting
He wasn’t an especially large man, and there was nothing about him that seemed the least threatening. I deduced he was just a regular guy who probably thought he could blow by me, puff out his chest, and never see me again. Clearly, however, he had seen me in his mirror barreling down on top of him, and when I began yelling, he was already shook up. In fact, he was almost cowering at the wheel. He wouldn’t even look at me. He attempted a faint, “Well, you should have had your signal on.” I bellowed, “I did have my signal on, you @!@#$%^&*!” And then I paused for effect, lowered my voice, and said, “Besides that, who are you to suddenly decide you are in charge of such things?” He kept his face forward and his head down and sped away when the light changed. I had my pound of flesh and was feeling pretty good about myself. I turned the car around and drove home, wondering when the feeling of absolute satisfaction would wash over me.

But it never came.

In fact, as the day wore on, I felt worse and worse. I’m not that kind of man. I don’t know how to be a bully, and I’m not comfortable with how frightened the other guy appeared when I pulled up. Yeah, I know that was the intention, and for all intents and purposes, I achieved what I set out to do, but I should be above that stuff. I had sunk to his level and basically did the same caveman impression he did. To “best” him or at least teach him a lesson, I should have pulled up and said, “Excuse me—I live right there, that’s my driveway, which you couldn’t have known but maybe next time you might assume there are parts of the story you don’t know, in which case you’ll keep your horn silent.” Yeah, I would have sounded like a total egghead, but it would have been twice as meaningful if I was above the anger. He would have likely been embarrassed as opposed to frightened, and that possibly would have had a longer-lasting effect. I would have been better off to do what I usually do, and that is to let it go, be the bigger person, and just be glad the situation didn’t get out of control.

Sobering Statistics
I decided to do some research and found a recent article in the Internet’s “Home Advisor,” published on May 20, 2017. The article revealed some frightening statistics:

·        37 percent of aggressive driving incidents involve at least one firearm.

·        The person who is most susceptible to road rage is a male under the age of 19.

·        One of every two drivers who are the object of aggressive behavior will respond in kind.

·        Over a 7-year study period, over 200 murders were associated directly to road rage.

·        More than 12,000 preventable injuries have occurred because of road-rage incidents.

·        2 percent of those who had someone swerve aggressively around them admitted to trying to run that car off the road.

·        49 percent of road-rage incidents are caused by a distracted driver.

·        44 percent of road rage is triggered by one driver cutting off another.

·        60 percent of drivers in a recent survey stated that they viewed aggressive, unsafe driving by others as a major personal threat to their families; this included speeding.

·        30 percent of drivers said that, within the last month, they felt as if their personal safety was at risk on the road.

·        Aggressive drivers are more likely to drive without a seat belt, and are also more likely to drink and drive.

·        Only 14 percent of drivers felt it was “extremely dangerous” to drive 10 miles per hour over the speed limit.

·        62 percent of drivers who fit into the category of unsafe stated they had not been stopped by a police officer within the past year.

·        98 percent of drivers believe it is important to take measures to reduce the prevalence of speeding and unsafe driving.

·        The number-one method of reducing unsafe driving, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey, was to increase the number of police assigned to traffic control.

·        More than 90 percent of people drive to work every day.

·        One of every three drivers who live in one of the largest cities in the United States spends over 40 hours per year stuck in traffic.

·        Because of the extra traffic on the road, AAA estimates a 7-percent annual increase in the number of road-rage incidents.

·        Only 32 percent of people believe a public-awareness campaign against road rage would actually be effective.

·        56 percent of men state they experience road rage from another driver every day.

·        The percentage of women who said they experience road rage on a daily basis is 44 percent.

·        No official government agency keeps track of official road-rage statistics.

These are sobering numbers, aren’t they? Indeed, people make mistakes while driving, and they can happen to anyone. You might not see the car that’s coming at you or forget where to turn or even find yourself in the wrong lane of a freeway when in unfamiliar territory. The problem is that a driver, in trying to correct a mistake, may do so at the expense of another driver, and that person may take the situation personally. The other driver gets angry, the situation escalates, and before you know it, road rage occurs. The best solution seems to be to forgiveand let it go. Try to remember that the lost person slowing down in front of you has been you once or twice before. If that doesn’t work, imagine the driver is your parent or grandparent. Simply extend the courtesy you would want someone else to give you.

Ron Ciancutti has worked in the parks and recreation industry since he was 16 years old, covering everything from maintenance, operations, engineering, surveying, park management, design, planning, recreation, and finance. He holds a B.S. in Business from Bowling Green State University and an M.B.A. from Baldwin Wallace University. He has held his current position as Director of Procurement since 1990. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at ron@northstarpubs.com.