He’s a Demon on Wheels
It’s high noon on America’s roadways. Road rage has swept the country in epidemic proportions as drivers take out their frustrations on other drivers in startling numbers. According to the Associated Press, road ragers are “armed with everything from firearms to Perrier bottles to pepper spray and eggs.”
A study by the American Automobile Association showed that the rate of “aggressive driving” incidents — defined as events in which an angry or impatient driver tries to kill or injure another driver after a traffic dispute — has risen by 51 percent since 1990. In those cases studied, 37 percent of offenders used firearms against other drivers, 35 percent used their cars, and an additional 28 percent used other weapons.
On a national level, road rage incidents are increasing by a hefty seven percent per year. What is causing this rampant malady to spread? Studies indicate that longer commutes to work, ever-increasing rush-hour traffic and mounting pressure in our work and personal lives are all contributing factors. A recent Gallup Poll cited aggressive driving as a greater threat than drunk driving.
Putting the Smack Down
Across the country, many states are putting the brakes on road ragers by increasing fines and threatening jail time. Arizona became the first state to pass an aggressive driver law in 1998. Drivers who simultaneously speed and commit at least two reckless driving offenses face a $250 fine and 30-day license suspension. In Delaware, aggressive drivers can be fined up to $300, more than double a speeding fine, and could face up to 30 days in jail. New Jersey involves the public in nabbing offenders. Signs along the state’s major highways and turnpikes encourage motorists to report aggressive drivers by dialing 77. The 6-year-old hotline has received about 600 calls a day since the state started promoting it and officers are dispatched to every call.
So be careful if you feel inclined to tailgate or swerve in and out of traffic. That guy you just cut off could be a state trooper in an unmarked car looking for aggressive drivers.
Avoiding Mad Max
•Don’t take traffic problems personally.
•Avoid eye contact with an aggressive driver.
•Don’t make obscene gestures.
•Use your horn sparingly (the polite honk can be misinterpreted).
•Don’t block the passing lane (some drivers will think you’re taunting them).
•Don’t block the right-hand turn lane.Source: American Automobile Association (AAA)