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.
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.