Settle It Down

Road Rage is getting worse.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines road rage as "The operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property." This doesn't just pertain to other drivers on the road. It is any driver or pedestrian that the aggression is targeted at. Rage is defined as 1: violent, uncontrollable anger, 2: feel or express violent behavior. To do this while operating a motor vehicle of any sort is considered road rage. Some examples of road rage are, but not limited to, cutting off other drivers, verbal insults, physical threats, dangerous driving, no turn signal, excessive honking, and insulting gestures.

Within the past 24 hours, a teen was arrested for pointing an air soft gun at a 72-year-old woman while driving. A man on a motorcycle knifed a bicyclist three times. Another man was arrested in Oklahoma City for pointing a gun during an incident on the road. An 18-year-old girl was arrested for ramming her car into the side of another driver. One man got out of his vehicle and took the keys from another driver for "driving up wife's a**." After using a mini baseball bat against another driver, a man was arrested. Two sisters attacked a woman with a metal baseball bat for accidentally cutting the sisters off. All of this is road rage, and it is getting worse.

The last research into the demographic of those guilty of road rage was put out in 2009. They ran the studies for three years. When the findings were published, the results were not pretty. There were over 1,200 road rage incidents per year on a steady rise every year, in the US alone. Most of the guilty were in their early 30s, and 96.6 percent were male. From what I personally witness on the roads, there has been an increase amongst women.

Unfortunately only 14 states in the US have passed laws against aggressive driving. California is one that has not passed laws against aggressive driving, even though Los Angeles is one of the top five worst cities when it comes to aggressive driving. In Virginia, aggressive driving is treated as a lesser crime with two different levels of misdemeanor.

Horn honks, swerving, tailgating, and attempting to fight other drivers are the key signs an officer of the law will cite a driver for. It won't be the only thing though. The ticket may not say "Road Rage" on it, but it will have a long list on it. The citation will list each action made plus any category it can be attached to, including endangerment. For those now thinking "well I can just go argue it," guess again. Burden of proof does not require "intent" to successfully convinct and most officers will show up to court for road rage hearings. With the list of violations on the ticket any judge could do the math and figure out what the full traffic violation was. By the time the ticket is served, depending on the severity, a driver could face anywhere from $300 (minimum) up to two life terms in jail. A first offense is normally met with the ticket fine and a 6 month license suspension. If someone ends up injured or dead, it steps into the category of murder. No matter what, once convicted of road rage, the driver is now considered a criminal in the eyes of the law.

I know it is hard not to get upset on occasion when driving. Sometimes it seems like many people on the roads should not have a driver's license. I have even found myself asking out loud "How did that person get a license?" I will never know the answer to that question. None of us can change the way other people drive their vehicles, unless we are an officer of the law. There are ways we can better deal with the rage that builds up inside ourselves.

First suggestion is watching your clock, set timers, and leave early. Instead of procrastinating and putting things to last moment manage your time better. When needed to be somewhere at 5:30 and it takes 20 minutes to be there, leave at 4:40. Give yourself extra time for traffic.

Second, play your music and rock it. Who cares if other people see you grooving and singing in your vehicle? Guess what? That vehicle is your personal property. If dancing around a little, drumming on the steering wheel, or/and singing keeps you from yelling or anything worse, do it. A happy person enjoying themselves is infectious.

Third, put the cellphone down! I know it is hard and sometimes there is an emergency where we have to let the boss know we're going to be late. If that's the case, pull over and make the call. Or if there is a Bluetooth in the vehicle, use it. No call is worth a life.

Fourth, consider the golden rule. Even if you aren't religious, think about what the message is. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. If making a small mistake, would you want someone to threaten you and yell at you? Do you feel you deserve to die for not using a turn signal? 

Common courtesy on the roads and in life will get this country a lot further along. If that doesn't appeal or hold enough weight in argument for change, consider the consequences. Is it worth $300, a suspended license, a damaged vehicle, prison time, or/and someone's life?

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