Just yesterday I watched a man metaphorically explode behind the wheel of his car… and his anger (I guess we call it road rage now) was directed at me.

I WONDER IF in the old days horse and buggy drivers, or cowboys ever yelled and waved their arms about at the drivers of other buggies or other riders, because they couldn’t make the turn they wanted or… whatever. Certainly when I was growing up, road rage wasn’t really a thing.

Sure, there were people who were d$%ks behind the wheel of their car, but just because you paused a little longer on a round-about, or stopped on an orange light, no-one hoped out of a car behind you brandishing a tyre iron. Or maybe they did?

These days, however, it seems that road rage has become a pandemic, like as if its acceptable to yell and scream like a moron just because you can’t get to where you want to get, right here and right now. It’s the sort of show a child puts on when they don’t get a toy they want and, as an adult, what are you expected to do? Ignore or distract the behaviour.

We don’t tolerate bad behaviour in children in the middle of the supermarket, so why should we tolerate it on the road, where there’s a good chance that apopleptic driver could cause a collision. I mean, if you had a dinner guest over who was lined up at the buffet, it wouldn’t be the done thing to up-end a bowl of soup on someone just because they’re lingering over the baked potatoes. Would it? Or maybe it would?

So, what had I done to cause just anger in the driver of the car behind me yesterday? I was parked at a round-about watching all of the non-indicating and trying to use mind powers to determine which way the cars I was tracking were going to go… it didn’t work. Now, excuse me, but if I’ve got no idea what the driver of two tonnes of wheels and steel is about to do, then I think it’s my right to be more than a little cautious. That wasn’t good enough for the bloke behind me… he wanted me to engage in a Russian roulette style of, drive out into the round-about and take my chances… and also a chance with the lives of my children who were singing along to their new favourite song in the back seat… and that song? It’s called Your Welcome and it’s from the soundtrack to the film, Moana. I haven’t seen the film but the kids have and they love it, but I digress, or do I?

I was tracking a car on the round-about that I knew, thanks to my mind-powers, was going to drive right around the round-about only he didn’t have his indicator on. Instead of doing what old mate in the car behind me wanted… I’ve never been one for peer pressure (if I had been, I would never have worn a Pork Pie hat when I was 16)… rather, old mate would have had me spear out and be T-boned. And where did the bloke behind me want to go? Left… only he didn’t have his indicator on.

Anyway, the crisis was over… I went straight-on at the round-about and the bloke behind me, waving his hand out the window turned to the left… not indicating and… tail-ended a car. It was divine justice… if you believe in such a thing.

And a week ago, on the freeway, I pulled back to let someone move into my lane. Now, there was no need for them to move into my lane, but they wanted to be in it, so I pulled back. Did I get a wave? Nope. Nothing. And that’s probably because the driver was busy dictating a voice message, or using Siri to update his Facebook or Twitter…

More and more cars are being developed with ‘smart technologies’ to keep us connected, even when we really shouldn’t be.

So, my question is this, is our modern life and a need to be somewhere right now, causing us to become arrogant on the road, and put others in danger?


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  1. Ignore them or flip them the bird and just drive off, realise that they are probably under a lot of stress whether it be from work or trouble with family. You just happen to be a convenient outlet to vent on.

    1. Flipping the bird is just another form of road rage – an expression of anger or aggression toward another human being who is not doing what you want them to do. Ignoring them (while preferable to flipping the bird) is just letting the problem go on.

      Well done Isaac on an article which does highlight the attitude problem many motorists have. It all begins with driver education. Not enough is done to get young drivers thinking the right way early in their driver education.

  2. A few weeks ago I had a young lady tailgating me on the highway coming into work. I was in the left hand lane, and there was heaps of traffic, so everyone was ambling along at about the same speed. She was clearly annoyed, and when a small gap appeared swerved into the right lane and tailgated the guy next to me. I saw her angst and backed off a bit. The guy in front hit the brakes and BANG she ran up the back of him. Sucks for the guy in front, but no sympathy for her.

  3. It seems that the impatience of many tailgaters causes them to make rash decisions and confuse and possibly panic the person they are tailgating, potentially making the situation worse…..

    One time I was on a single lane road in Sydney approaching a dual lane section, and the driver tailgating me started moving to the right to see around me, I started moving and indicating left to take the left lane, by which stage he had swerved left and tried to come around the left of me, then suddenly swerved back to the right when he realised what i was doing….

    Another couple of times I have tried to move back to the left lane after overtaking someone, only to have an impatient driver try to overtake me in the left lane….almost running up the back of me and most likely cutting in far too close to the vehicle i had just overtaken….then swerving back to the right when they realised what I was doing….

    As I tend to make a decision and stick with it I took the left lane in all three cases…..had I panicked and swerved right to try and get out of their way thinking they were going to overtake on the left, I’d likely have been in their way again….

  4. There must be so much psychology behind it. I know road rage has been around since I was a kid cos my old man was a big fan of driving dangerously to demonstrate his disapproval of other road users. And I have to admit I have my limits too. Like when people mosey on past successive slow vehicle turnouts it really sticks in my craw. And indicator-less lane drifting. Etc etc.
    The best I can sum it up is that when I (and I think many) perceive a breaking of the road users code – legal or ethical, deliberately or ignorantly – that endangers or seriously inconveniences me, I feel that “the gloves are off” and that ironically it’s ok to also behave badly.
    That may mean just gesturing and giving the horn a work out, or passing badly at the first chance. Obviously some people take it way further, and I’ve also had drivers respond badly because they of course often had no idea they were breaking my code.
    In every instance I can think of, a simple wave of apology and acknowledgement would have appeased me, which is what I always try and do, because I know in my logical mind, especially with kids going nuts in the back and all the other distractions of modern driving as you say, that we all stuff up from time to time.

  5. I agree with the general sentiments of this article, but you never really know what someone is going through. 90% of the time I’m sure people are just being jerks, but that guy could have been rushing for a very legitimate reason. His pregrant wife could be about to head into labour, or like me recently, he could have been rushing to the vet to say goodbye to the family dog.
    Whilst those aren’t excuses for breaking the social rules or laws, you never know what people are going through.

  6. I disagree with the basic premise. We do indeed tolerate lousy behaviour from children and not just in supermarkets. Kids grow up with little if any discipline. My kid’s primary school told my son that I was not allowed to smack him. That is not correct. They may not agree with me but it is not yet illegal. I had a chat to the teacher, who is old enough to know better. I can only see it getting worse as the undisciplined generation become parents and they abdicate their responsibilities also. Riots in prisons for teens, children carrying out violent crimes with impunity, out of control drug use – we have the lot. At the same time it is difficult to say much because the parents of these crims are just as likely to assault the one who speaks out. Just ask school principles, nurses, ambulance crews etc how violent people are becoming. No, not every 13 year old is a criminal. But it surely is worse than it has ever been. I don’t think road user ignorance/arrogance helps either. There is still no excuse for violence against anyone even if they are jerks behind the wheel.

  7. Not giving indication at a round about or while changing the lane is one thing. There are other road rage problems I have seen, in spite giving indicator for 15 to 20 seconds to change the lane the driver does not want to give the space in the lane. Some drivers tailgate so close that they force us to drive faster than the speed limit and drivers without patience would prefer changing 2 to 3 lanes without giving indication in order to overtake multiple cars in front of us. Sometimes they tailgate so close that they force the car in front of them to exit the lane.

  8. It’s a tough call to say what actually causes road-rage. I would suggest that the common factor is that every person who operates a vehicle on the road is of the opinion that they know what they are doing and nobody can question that. This is made worse by many having learned or adopted bad practices and refuse to change them because “I know what I’m doing!”
    When you have someone who is more vocal about it, who knows what is setting them off. The common factor though is that someone is seen to be in their way and the best thing they can do is to get out of that way and not become part of the crash that the rager may cause.
    Of course, there are two kinds of ragers in my opinion… those who know the road rules and get frustrated by utter stupidity and/or ignorance – and those who don’t care about laws and what is right or wrong; all they know is that someone is in their way.
    One thing I have noticed about people is along the lines of never mentioning politics or religion at parties. The same thing applies with the driving ‘skills’ of people and their parenting ‘skills’. Most people will get their back up if you say that they suck at either but I like to remind people who sit in the right lane everywhere they go that they must not be very good as parents either as they are demonstrating to their children that courtesy is optional depending on where you are.
    There is a lot more to this topic in my mind but I will stop here.

  9. “divine justice” LOL, I must admit i used to get upset when people did stupid things in traffic, however nowadays I just try to laugh at it. Hit home to me seeing some guy having a fit of rage because the car in front of him was doing maybe a few kph slower than he wanted to go, mind this was in heavy traffic congestion. The object of his rage was an elderly lady, could have been my mum or somebodies Gran. I thought seriously it is not right to loose your lollie like that.

    Courtesy is contagious.

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