I know it is hard to believe but our generation, the generation of free love and far-out friendliness has become one of the fastest growing demographics of road rage aggressors and victims. What happened to those laid-back, peace-loving, pass-the-joint people?
Compounding and many times triggering road rage is distracted driving or aggressive driving. More and more mid-lifers are not only using cell phones but they are talking, texting and instant messaging while driving!
Just yesterday in the retirement community where I see clients, I saw a man, at least eighty-years-old nearly fall off of the curb because he was texting with his grandson about the World Cup Games and trying to walk at the same time.
In a Nationwide Insurance survey, 37% of boomers admitted to texting while driving and 35% admitted to some sort of multi-tasking while driving.
In 2012, 3328 people were killed in distracted driving crashes. [distraction.gov]
There are increasing numbers of recorded cases of road rage incidents committed by either men or women that are middle age, normally calm, successful people with no history of crime, violence or drug and alcohol abuse. They become so irritated by another driver’s distraction or rudeness that they are hell bent on ‘teaching the other driver a lesson.’
Have you ever:
- Hit your brakes to teach a tailgater behind you a lesson?
- Blocked the passing lane on a highway so a car cannot pass you?
- Have you cursed, screamed at or given the finger to another driver? [This gesture has gotten people shot, stabbed or beaten to death in every single state.] [www.nhtsa.com]
- Rudely honked your horn at another driver? [This behavior has resulted in a large number of honkers being shot or beaten.]
- Tailgated a driver you felt was driving to slow?
- Flashed your high beams at a driver that has their high beams on?
If you answered yes to any of these questions you are guilty of aggressive driving. That behavior puts you, your passengers and the other driver at risk of harm, even death. That other driver that you provoked could have Intermittent Explosive Disorder and some sort of weapon. That few minutes of anger could cost you your life.
To avoid becoming aggressive on the road:
- Never drive while hurt, angry, tired or hungry.
- Leave earlier than you need too. Always give yourself a time cushion in case of traffic, an accident or poor weather conditions.
- Have water and some sort of snack in the car.
- Have your favorite music or an audio book available.
- Accept that you may be late, it happens, it is not the end of the world.
- Always have something to clean your windows and your hands.
- Place a photo of your family and or pets on your visor.
- Keep a stress ball in the car.
- Relax your muscles, breathe deeply.
To avoid becoming a victim of road rage:
- If a driver is trying to pass you, let them. Being right is not worth dying.
- Never make eye contact with an aggressive driver, it can be perceived as aggression.
- Always use your turn signal.
- Keep your high beams low.
- Don’t block the road to talk to someone. [This behavior has caused dozens of shootings and beatings] [AAA]
- If an aggressive driver is following you, do not drive to your home. Go to a police station or some other safe, well lit area.
- Never, ever engage with an angry driver. They are irrational and you are not the ass-hat driver whisperer.
- Never give the finger or any other provoking gesture to another driver [Again, many people have died as a result of this behavior.]
I will never understand why we will stand, holding the door for four or five people at a convenience store, smiling and then get in our cars and fight to the death, to be first and only one there when it comes to merging in traffic.
Please choose to live, be forgiving on the road.
Road Rage has affected my family in the worst way possible. My younger brother, musician David Albert was beaten to death by a group of men who became irate because he stopped at every stop sign. They felt he was driving too slowly. David was driving the speed limit. He was twenty-six and had a beautiful wife and a thirteen-month-old son.
I felt compelled to tell the story in my first book Bristol boyz Stomp.