It’s a common behavior that many of us know too well; there’s no question that road rage is getting worse in America. Short tempers, long commute times, and antagonistic behavior can lead to all kinds of disputes and confrontations on and off the road. In a year of extreme stress and anxiety, road rage can easily turn deadly.
This was the case on June 14th on the I10 Freeway westbound at Palm Springs, when road rage took over for the driver of this matte black tesla. Speaking anonymously to Scrubs Magazine, the healthcare worker stated:
“I was driving in the second to fast lane at a safe speed. There is tons of construction work going on in the Palm Springs area right now and I wanted to be extra safe. All of a sudden I see a Tesla racing up behind me. I got scared, there was a truck to my right and a car to my left, so I slowed down.” It’s then that the Tesla driver seemed to take on an even more dangerous approach.
“I think he thought I was brake checking him, so he started to tailgate me and was driving about a foot away from my car. He sped up and moved to the left of my vehicle and started nudging toward me as if to push me into the truck to my right. I was terrified. It’s been such a hard year for everyone, and my anxiety was through the roof. The car then sped up to move in front of my vehicle with no room to do so, I had to slam on my brakes otherwise he would have clipped my hood and sent me into the truck.”
The HCW in question called the police immediately. “I managed to get my phone out and take a picture of his license plate. I shouldn’t have been doing that whilst driving but I felt so angry and upset that I nearly lost my life”.
The police took the report seriously and put a call out for dispatch to find the driver.
Why are so many of us losing control of our emotions behind the wheel?
The Problem with Road Rage
The greater city of Los Angeles is in mourning after a tragic “road rage incident” left a six-year-old boy dead. Authorities say Joanna Cloonan was driving her son, Aiden, home from kindergarten on the 55 Freeway in Orange County when another driver in a white Volkswagen opened fire on their car. Aiden, who was sitting in a booster seat at the time, reportedly told his mother that his “tummy” hurt after getting struck by a stray bullet.
The California Highway Patrol said there was “some type of road rage incident” involving Cloonan and another motorist prior to the shooting. The police posted a reward of $500,000 for anyone with information related to the crime.
Two people have since been arrested, including Marcus Anthony Eriz, 24, and Wynne Lee, 23, who are both expected to be charged with murder. According to his Instagram page, Eriz works 23 miles from where the shooting took place.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said the killing “has left our entire community devastated,” while adding, “6-year-old Aiden should have been in kindergarten today, but instead, his family is getting ready for his funeral tomorrow.”
Unfortunately, incidents like this remain all too common across the U.S. Experts say quantifying road rage can be difficult, but it seems to be happening more frequently with every passing year. Statistics show the number of road rage-related deaths and injuries continues to increase at a rate of around 7% per year.
In a 2019 survey, around 80% of drivers said they have experienced some form of road rage within the last month, and 78% of drivers admit to engaging in this kind of behavior themselves.
It’s important to note that aggressive driving is not the same as road rage. Aggressive driving, which includes speeding, cutting off another driver, running red lights, and weaving through traffic, is when a person engages in unsafe driving habits that have the potential to endanger others.
Road rage is even worse. It’s the act of engaging in unsafe driving for the sole purpose of threatening or harming another human being or damaging property. Road rage is responsible for an average of 30 murders every year. The term was first coined in the 1990s when major news outlets started reporting on the subject. Road rage includes:
- Swearing, profanity, and other insulting gestures
- Hitting, bumping, ramming, or swiping another vehicle
- Slamming on the brakes when someone is traveling close behind you
- Forcing another car off the road
- And other violent acts that pose a threat to other road travelers
Studies show running late to work tends to be the leading cause of road rage, but it can spring up when we least expect it. Around 33% of drivers say long wait times and slow traffic lights can lead to road rage. Also, 25% say that waiting for passengers to get into their vehicles can bring it on, while another 22% say narrow lanes on highways and road closures can set them off.
Resisting the Urge to Rage
No one is immune to road rage. It’s been a difficult year for most of us, especially if you work in healthcare. The added stress of the pandemic coupled with political and economic uncertainty is enough to make anyone’s head explode.
In driver’s ed, they teach you to expect other drivers to make mistakes. If someone does something careless or downright stupid behind the wheel, resist the urge to freak out at them, whether by honking, yelling, or flipping them the bird. You might think you’re doing other drivers a favor by calling out this person’s mistakes, but these kinds of reactions can easily spiral into full-on disputes, many of which can turn deadly. Increase your following distance, stop earlier, and give yourself plenty of room to maneuver around others to avoid any unintentional consequences.
Try to keep your cool behind the wheel to avoid incurring the wrath of your fellow drivers.