You are driving on a freeway in the slow lane. You notice a driver on your tail. You tap your brakes a couple of times, saying “get off of my tail!” You and the tailgater exchange birds… and the rage is on!
I’ve seen plenty of road-rage and in my younger days when hormones were coursing through my body. I’ve participated in loonicy such as this.
Why does it start? I think this is a male thing – much like other kinds of male possessiveness. The mostly younger males think they have a right to intimidate a slower driver out of their way. What right does someone have to go the speed limit when everyone else is going faster? Hey – I have a truck and can eat the car in front of me if they don’t move. Hey – I’m hot stuff and they are not. Thinking like this is dangerous when driving a one to two-ton vehicle!
The instigator thinks they are right and the recipient (I hesitate to call them the victim) thinks they are right! I use to be the willing recipient at times mostly when I was minding my own business and a tailgater would try to hurry me along. I would tap my breaks and slow-down, figuring the tailgater would drive around me in the fast lane.
The tailgater would instantly anger and flip me the bird, and I would flip the bird back to his court! I was very lucky when I was younger because no one pulled over (or I may have done something I would have regretted). This is the dilemma many young males face today. What do I do if road rage happens? I will give an example of what happened to me several years ago and how I handled it.
I was driving to work on the freeway. Traffic was not completely stopped but getting clogged up. I was in the slow lane, keeping five car lengths ahead of me (figuring I would have time to stop if anyone jammed on their breaks). I was driving a Nissan Sentra and noticed a large, white truck in my rear-view mirror, driving very close. He was trying to get me to speed up and narrow the gap in front of me.
I widened the gap in front of me, figuring that incase I had to stop suddenly – I would need more distance (due to the idiot tail-gating behind me). The tail-gator kept on me with brights on (it was twilight – right before sunup). I tapped my breaks again and slowed more – upsetting the tail-gator by my action. I finally moved my rear-view mirror so I could not see the tail-gator and he went berserk! He was yelling as he pulled beside me, flipping the bird and trying to get me to pull over.
In my younger days – I probably would have pulled over and gotten into an altercation. I could have easily won but everyone has a wife, a girl friend, a son or daughter, mother or father, or someone that cares about them. As I have gotten older, I have realized that the innocent should not have to pay for having an idiot relation! Never mind that I could easily go to jail in a he said – he said situation were I could have easily just ignored him.
What happened? I just kept driving, mostly not looking at him, for about 10 miles (fifteen minutes at the speed we were traveling). When I did look at him – I noticed he was continuing to yell but eventually he lost interest as he was not willing to use his truck as a missile to pull me over. I diffused the situation by refusing to continue the gestures and would have kept driving until he went away.
What did I learn? I learned that even though I can still knock-out most instigators (I’m a 5th degree black belt), there is no reason to participate in any aggressive actions other then self-defense – especially road rage! Road rage affects innocent people and has no reason to exist other than testosterone driven madness!
Nowadays I am even more conservative – I just ignore tail-gators and keep my speed steady. Eventually they go away. I do not participate in their madness even though I know I could easily stop them if we pulled over. What would it prove? NOTHING!!! I think responsible martial artists need to continue to teach this message. Fight only as a last resort and do not participate in actions that are likely to lead to a dumb – preventable confrontation.