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Road Rage – Look in the Mirror

To have road rage you need three main components; automobiles, roads, and people. For automobiles, since Henry Ford began mass-producing cars, in 1913, there has been road rage. As far as roads are concerned, Christopher Lloyd, alias Doc Brown, proclaimed “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads,” but yes, the roads themselves have contributed to the obvious rage on a road. 😊 Then there’s people. Since Adam and Eve chose to listen to a serpent instead of their Creator, God, we have been a very emotional and sinful group of beings.

I think we have all experienced road rage. Either we were victims of it, we saw it occurring to others, or maybe we even lost our heads and reacted with rage ourselves. But what is interesting to me, is that much of this rage is actually caused by innocent people never intending to act out or be out of line, when we are travelling to and fro. So, in many cases, one only needs to look into the mirror to find the contributor to many of the road rage occurrences happening on our roads.

When automobile travel first began, the cars were very unreliable. They broke down often, they smoked excessively, and they backfired quite often. Let’s face it, they were an annoyance to most. This created a great deal of emotions and outrage. So much so, that many states banned driving on Sunday’s so to not disrupt the families on their way to church. As you can imagine a horse pulling a wagon or carriage does not like the very unusual, loud, unwelcome and unknown (at that time) sound of a car backfiring. Also, the roads in those days were mostly pathways, not true roads as we know them. Imagine a tiny pathway, through a crevice in the rocks, or mostly dry spot in a creek, or a clearing through a woods, being blocked by a broken-down automobile – no horse and carriage is getting by. Let’s not mention the obvious pollution which wasn’t even understood quite yet. So, road rage started at the very beginning of vehicles and roads.

Today, we have made an art out of road rage. It’s quite common for someone to motion to another driver that they are number one, using their middle finger. The shaking head going back and forth in dismay and the two palms held up pointing skyward, are all gestures invented by road rage. In fact, one has to feel that the car horn was developed solely as an expression of our dissatisfaction at the way someone turned, parked, stopped, or was basically in our way.

I learned road rage first hand from my father. He was never very mean or rude about it, but he would often state boldly, inside the car for only us family members to hear, that someone wasn’t smart enough to do something because of some personal trait or choice they had made. For example, if a person driving a Volkswagen failed to use their turn signal, he would loudly proclaim; “If you bought an American car, your turn signal would work!” This comment was always made with the windows closed and only to us, but it was his form of insult and road rage. However, he did not only single out foreign car owners. If the next person was not driving a Ford, and failed to use their turn signal, he would loudly proclaim the same, yet slightly modified statement; “If you bought a Ford, your turn signal would work!” I sometimes find myself uttering the very same words and phrases, again with closed windows and quite honestly more in fun than anything...but…sometimes I do actually mean what I say, out of my own frustrations!!!:☹

But I do feel we ourselves create many of these issues. For example, the interstate highways were designed for EVERYONE to drive in the far-right lane and to only change lanes to pass. Yet many of us drive in whichever lane we feel most comfortable, and if that makes it tough for others, that’s their issue, right? I was recently driving to work and a long line of cars, about 12, were proceeding down the on-ramp to enter the highway. You know every single one of those cars immediately crossed all three lanes and settled their cars in the far-left lane to drive. And, there was not a single car in the far-right lane nor the middle lane – why? Because that was what they were accustomed to doing. This leads to frustration on many drivers’ parts. Does it upset you when someone passes you on the right? This infuriates a lot of drivers. When someone describes their frustration to me, when this occurs, I always ask them; “Do you know why people pass you on the right?” They pause and look at me awaiting an answer, and I respond; “Because they can.” The person passing on the right did not create the issue but the others not travelling on the right, as they are supposed to, caused the issue and the possible road rage.

How many times have you been the third or forth person in line, in a turn lane, and not get through the light, because the first or second car driver was doing something and did not know the light had change? Isn’t it funny, or should I say frustrating, that the people that tend to cause you to miss these lights, almost always are the last ones to actually make it through the light! But let’s be honest, are you ever that person causing others to miss the light? When you wonder why, can you sometimes look into the mirror and find the reason this occurred?

While we’re on stop lights, how many of you run the red light? I’m sure everyone would say they don’t but there are a whole lot of people not only constantly, but consistently, running red lights. So, then the people travelling through the intersection, can’t go when it turns green in their direction…or they can go and cause a wreck. This backs up everyone else and causes far less people to get through intersections, leading to significant rage. The insurance companies might say it’s the person who immediately entered the intersection’s fault, even though they did so…on the green light… just to come in contact with a red-light runner, and thus causing the wreck. But we all know the law breakers are the real cause. The law says that the yellow light means exit the intersection ASAP. It does not say go ahead and enter the intersection after it’s been yellow and you could easily have stopped. I’m no saint – have I entered as it turned red or was yellow and I had time to stop; yes. But I can honestly say that those times have been very few and I go out of my way to stop myself every time now, because I know the harm that could happen if I don’t. I don’t think it’s right for me to break the law, just because so many others do. For me personally, excusing myself because of others, is a very poor excuse!!!

Want to get rear-ended while driving, come to a complete stop, at a stop sign, with someone tailgating you. They will expect you to roll through the stop sign, like many people do, and thus might just hit you because you actually stop, when they don’t expect you to. Or have you ever been angered while entering the interstate, when the car in front of you won’t properly speed up as they progress up or down the ACCELERATION ramp. Or have you ever played dodge-car when you get ready to exit the interstate and the exiting car in front of you slows down to 20 miles per hour under the speed limit, while still on the interstate, and prior to entering the DECELERATION ramp.

Last but not least, have you ever been cut-off by someone pulling in front of you? I’m sure you have. Regardless of whether or not they used their turn signal to change lanes, and I’m guessing likely not! You don’t change lanes unless there is sufficient room for two cars, not half a car. I heard a young lady, one time complaining to a friend that a guy wouldn’t let her over into to his lane of traffic. As I heard her explain it, the guy was travelling along side of her minding his own business, and there was no space for her to pull into his lane, neither in front nor behind him. She proceeded to tell her friend, that simply turning on her turn signal meant that guy was supposed to clear a spot for her to pull into – that simply signaling alone, meant everyone needed to get out of her way. Have you have had this happen to you – or have you ever done this to someone? What would the mirror say, if you were totally honest with yourself?

Road rage is a huge problem and unfortunately, the cause of it, is sometimes self-inflicted. A contributing fact is that our police forces have gotten so bogged down with real crime, that they rarely patrol the streets any more. Thus, illegal driving activity rarely gets ticketed. Ever try driving the speed limit on I-465 – you’re taking your life in your hands if you do. The fact is, we rarely obey the traffic laws because we rarely get caught, or penalized for, not doing so. But if we are honest, we have contributed to some of these things. We have to remember and understand, that our driving is about ourselves being safe and protected those in our cars first. Yes, we have to be aware of the “Other Guy” when driving but we don’t have to be consumed by the “Other Guys” actions. Our sole responsibility is to be safe and responsible drivers for ourselves and our loved ones.

It’s easy to get so caught up in our lives, troubles, and worries, and let them consume our minds and thoughts, forgetting all about the critical and essential needs of attentive driving. We need to remember, and never forget, that we have a 4,000-pound weapon under our seats and foot pedals, and this car, if not handled properly, can cause serious damage to those around us...innocent strangers, friends, family, and ourselves. Yes, cars are safer today than ever before in our lives, but they are also more powerful and capable of inflicting major injury and damage.

So, I implore every one of you, please be as attentive, responsible, and safe, as possible when operating a motor vehicle. Every day that you take to the roads, you have to trust thousands of other motorists to do their best, as we travel side-by-side of these folks, at 70+ MPH, with only a few feet separating our two-ton vehicles. More importantly, thousands of people take to the roads, hoping they can trust you when they encounter you on the road. Please please please…every moment you accelerate, brake, signal a turn, and turn the steering wheel, think about the safety of everyone in your life and all those unknown people you encounter on the roads. Make your next look into the mirror, be one of determining a safe distance to pull into a lane, or to safely back up into a parking spot, or even possibly to check whether or not your hair needs brushed – don’t let that look in the mirror be one of guilt, because you just did something to cause an act of Road Rage! If you are TRULY honest with yourself, the face in the mirror will not lie.

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