Road Rage, And How Not To Deal With It

There’s a video that’s been circulating around social media and news outlets over the last couple of days, generating predictable amounts of outrage, judgment, name-calling and decisive proclamations of guilt and punishment. You might know the one I’m talking about: taken from a trailing vehicle, we see a guy on a bagger riding next to a small silver car. Suddenly he lashes out with his foot at the side of the car, prompting the car driver to swerve into him, pushing him dangerously close to a cement barrier. The rider stays upright, but the car begins swerving wildly, swinging right then hard left again, smashing into the barrier head-on before ricocheting off to the right, ramming a passing white truck on the driver’s side and causing it to flip, then spinning to a stop in the right lanes. The biker, meanwhile, continues on his way.

What the video doesn’t show is the events leading up to this obvious case of road rage gone terribly wrong. Apparently the person recording the video began doing so because the car driver cut in front of the rider, and the rider took exception.

We’ve all been there. Drivers do stupid things, and nowadays they’re even more likely to be distracted by something that’s not the road or the other people around them. Here in congested Southern California, where this video was taken, I see it all the time on my daily commute. Rear-ending accidents, texting, drivers cutting abruptly over the double-yellow line into the HOV lane illegally (often made even more illegal because they are alone in the car and aren’t supposed to be using that lane to begin with)…we’ve even seen people reading books while they cruise down the freeway. I had an incident myself last October, when a driver attempted to cut across the double yellow line in front of me.

Read EIC Tuttle’s take on road rage in this April 2016 column.

Looking at this video, it would appear that’s exactly what happened. The car driver (who was alone and not supposed to be in the HOV lane) probably cut across the two double-yellow lines that are intended to protect the vehicles in that lane, and the guy on the bike might’ve had a close call. Maybe it scared him, and fear is a powerful emotion that often leads to anger. Or maybe it wasn’t close at all, but for whatever reason the guy had had enough. He’s having a bad day. Whatever. There’s still no excuse for letting things escalate beyond that.

Not to mention the danger, as he found out. An 800-pound bagger is big for a motorcycle, but it’s no match for even a 3,000-pound econobox sedan. We can say that the driver should be charged with assault with a deadly weapon or even attempted murder, but the rider started it by kicking the car door.

This is a classic example of how not to deal with road rage. I seriously doubt that in the history of people cutting other people off and doing other stupid things on our roadways, there’s ever been an instance of a 70 mph yelling match ending with, “Gosh, you’re right old chap, I shouldn’t have cut you off. My sincere apologies.” It’s easy to let our anger (which is born from our fear as we get a sudden reminder of how fragile we are) envelop us, and we may feel “justified” in making sure the other guy knows how stupid he is and how he almost killed us and where did you learn to drive, anyway??

But is that actually going to solve anything, or does it just make us feel better for a moment? Unless, that is, things go terribly wrong, like they do in the video. Or worse, like it did for another SoCal rider last year who was run over and killed by a driver after a road rage incident.

The last we’d heard, by the way, is that the car driver was uninjured but the driver of the white truck that flipped was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Two peoples’ road rage ended in an innocent person getting hurt. Remember that when the car cuts you off or pulls in front of you, oblivious to your very existence, your reaction shouldn’t be equally oblivious to your surroundings. It’s just not worth it.

How do you deal with road rage? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

14 COMMENTS

  1. The rider did 2 stupid things: 1) kicking the car and 2) leaving the scene of an accident. No matter how idiotic the car driver was, there was no call for kicking the door. There are those that will puff up their chests and pretend to be billybadass behind the keyboard, the bottom line is the rider should not have done what he did. Period. Accept the fact there are idiots out there and ride accordingly.

  2. Having driven/ riden that stretch of freeway 4 30+ years (even b4 carpool) I’ve seen just about every crazy driver/rider incident. Yes the biker shouldn’t have kicked the door,
    Or riden away, the car driver did break the law : single driver, crossing double yellow line ( see this all the time) . Biker needs to come forward & explain his side of the story.

  3. I have in the past(years ago)let some knuckle head know how I felt about their driving.Offered to rearrange his face.Then a little old woman who nearly got me , and I started to let her know….till I saw a little old lady who was scared of this motorcycle rider.I am sure she had no idea what had nearly happened.The people in the other cars only saw me…picking on a little old lady.In less it’s very close let it go.Maybe even let it go anyway if no one has a wreck.

  4. In these situations I am reminded of a quote from one of the Lethal Weapon movies. “Being right ain’t a bulletproof vest “

  5. I would of thrown something at him because I can be sure that he didn’t kick that door for nothing and not a simple lane change either in guessing.
    The car could have been doing any number of stupid and or dangerous things to illicit that kick.

  6. I commute daily.
    I have seen everything. One guy eating a bowl of cereal, a lady had her laptop propped up on the passenger seat with pillows doing what look liked work,another guy propoed his cell phone up on his dash and was watching a video,girls doing make up texting etc.
    Then there are the people that see you coming and get mad at you, because you’re lane splitting and honk at you,yell at you or purposely squeeze you out.
    I will usually pass em,honk,and give em a thumbs up for their stupidity.

  7. This video edits out the part where the car crosses a double solid yellow into the carpool lane and cuts off the motorcyclist. I’m not condoning what the motorcyclist did, but the driver of the car did something illegal and very dangerous first. But for that action, none of this would have happened. Deliberately swerving into the motorcyclist after the kick should set him up for vehicular battery charges as well.

  8. Honestly, a motorcycle is not the place for road rage. Really nothing is. I am a Christian, but even if I wasn’t , I’d have enough sense to just let the road rage rider/driver have his/her rage and pass on by. That is the only sensible answer. If they endanger you, get their license plate and report them. Hang in there, riders.

  9. When I started riding 25 years ago, I sometimes let drivers know I was not happy with them.
    I realized after a short while that I was just wasting my breath, and only making a bad situation worse.
    I quickly learned to concentrate on avoiding trouble situations, and to escape ASAP when said situations do occasionally arise.
    Life is too short to waste time on stupid people.

    • I completely agree. Good Answer. Just slow down and let them go buy. The thing that scares me the most, and makes me the maddest, is when I see people supposedly driving with their heads down; hence, texting. If I can get off the road, I do. Yesterday on a beautiful day here in Arkansas, and a great ride, an oncoming truck swerved into my lane. I was close enough to notice;, hence, driver’s head down, likely texting. Not a good thing for bikers or anybody else. The penalities for driving and texting should be severe.

  10. I do have a can of ‘silly string’ but have not had it on the bike to (as I imagine i would) spray it over the shoulder and let the driver know he is too close! Just knowing I could is enough to ease the mind!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here