Thursday, October 8, 2009

Road Rage

The symbolic face of death:  detail from an 18...Image via Wikipedia

Road rage is an act of agression by a vehicle driver toward another.  If taken to the extreme, it often leads to physical assault, injury, and even death. It has risen to epidemic proportions throughout the country, whereby more drivers fear being victimized by road rage than by drunk drivers.

Between 1000 and 1500 people are killed each year due to road rage incidents, most involving firearms and other weapons...including the assailant's car. In every day, common cases, plain old aggression and aggressive driving also cause over 50-percent of all car crashes in this country.

How  do we slow this disease down, especially here in the Bay Area?  To start with, we all need to lighten up when driving.  I'm going to share an incident that happened to me a few weeks ago that may offer some help::

I take DeLaCruz Blvd every day when working for StreetWise Special Delivery. I was driving South the other morning between Hwy.101 and the San Jose Airport, when I nearly ran a small truck off the road. It happened at a wishbone fork that leads right to Santa Clara or left where it turns into Coleman Ave. I turned left onto Coleman at the same time this small truck turned onto Coleman from the Santa Clara, ElCamino Real side.  I was either not paying attention or he drifted into my huge, sunrise blind-spot....because I never saw him!. I changed lanes and cut him right off,  not realizing a thing until we stopped a half -mile ahead at the airport entrance stoplight. 

This is the perfect road rage scenerio!  The driver could either lay on the horn, flip me off, get out of his truck screaming for a fight, or pull out a weapon and physically assault me. It happens all to often, but thankfully...not to me, at least not this day. What did happen was just the opposite, and an example to learn from:

...I heard a tap on the horn from behind me and turned around. The man signaled me to roll down my window. (I thought something may be wrong with my car) He then leaned out of his window, and, in a calm voice intoned..."Did you know you just cut right in front of me?" You almost ran me off the road back there at the bridge." I apologized and said....  "I didn't even see everything OK?"  "Yea, I'll live. Just be more careful next time, and have a nice day", he said.  I told him thanks and apologized again. We both drove off on our seperate ways,  safely and free of  road rage!! This truck driver teaches a great lesson! Lighten UP!

...It comes down to the basics.... Don't drive in a bad mood, avoid being in a hurry, and drive defensivly as opposed to aggressively!  Always signal when changing lanes.(57% don't) Do not tailgate, do not drive slowly in fast(left) lanes, and above all...AVOID possible confrontations on the road. This means no return screams, obscene gestures, horn honking or high beams. If threatened or taunted by another driver, avoid and evade them.

If pursued, use your cell to call police and/or drive to a station if possible.  Do NOT drive home, and do NOT leave your car unless safely away from danger. These rules should help reduce road rage incidents, but it may also come down to common sense.

If you make a mistake behind the wheel and have the chance...apologize appropriatly. Be cheerful and polite to other drivers especially in heavy traffic where most road rage originates. Smile, and let the other driver in, or slow down...and let them pass peacefully.
If we all follow these basic steps, perhaps we can pave more PEACEFUL roads to drive on.

Continue to drive safely out there, and avoid THE RAGE.



"Best Wishes"--PTCJr

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