The Antidote To Road Rage

Being a reader of FHZ requires you to maintain an open mind.  Even if you don't agree with both sides of the issues here, understanding the contrary view permits perspective and in some cases, deeper understanding of the root causes of things we consider trouble.  For an example, consider the recent road rage incident that seems to have piqued a considerable amount of interest.  While I in no way sanction what was done, nor think it was a mature or acceptable way to handle the situation, realize that in many cases, feelings of frustration manifest themselves in angry, retaliatory behavior.

Who among us has not experienced anger at the inconsiderate moron who fails to pull to the right when we are well behind them, permitting us a free lane on the way to some emergency?  Even in your personal automobile, how about the idiot who not only signals they are going to take a right turn, but then shoots across to two lanes of traffic to make a left?  Like he couldn't just make the wrong turn, make a u-turn, and make things right?

Individuals have given themselves the freedom to make poor decisions, then be let off the hook because we shouldn't "judge" them, or because their mommy didn't hug them as a child, or whatever victim story they happen to choose this week.  The reality is that while reacting negatively to those who act in error is not acceptable, neither is the act that sparked the reaction in the first place.  Perhaps if our nation's law enforcement would start hauling off people who run red lights; who make erratic and unanticipated turns without use of a signal; those who drive too slowly in the passing lane, who fly down the shoulder to cut to the head of a merging line, or those who fail to pull to the right when an emergency vehicle is asking for the right of way, perhaps you might see a considerable decrease in road rage.

The base cause of indignity is usually the result of inconsiderate behavior.  Someone flaunts the rules and disregards the normal values of society, and the enraged individual is angry at the injustice of the situation.  I would be willing to bet that if anyone could write a ticket (not that I am an advocate of that), you'd see a lot less road rage.

Why?  Because if there were a non-violent method of resolving the conflict, I would be willing to bet that people would take that option.  The problem is that there is no resolution.  The enraged individual feels as if there is no way the situation will be resolved, they feel the injustice of the situation, and they act out in frustration, sometimes regardless of the consequences.

Now let's take this a step further.  Think of a non-driving situation in which you were pushed to the edge…Was this reaction a result of powerlessness, of frustration evolved from conflict in which you were victimized and felt no method to resolve your issue?  Perhaps it was an automatron manning the phone at your credit card company, or the cashier at Wally World, or the cable guy who doesn't show up when he says he will.  You percieve a lack of power to change the situation and that lack of control becomes overwhelming.  Over time, you may even be willing to act on it, in such a possibility, even inappropriately.

So what is the solution for our version of road rage?  Education?  Humorous attempts to enlighten the inconsiderate sometimes work, as in this fine example from the Tuscaloosa Fire Department. Other attempts like this one from Eugene, Oregon and this one from an agency I can't read on their final slide aren't as memorable (IMHO) but still get the message across.

But the more in-depth solution would be for individuals to maintain less distrations in their vehicles (phones, texting, and radios come to mind), and more overall awareness (simply paying attention to the fact that you SHARE the road with others).  And likewise, the way for you to avoid conflict that cascades into an intractable situation would be to step back for a second and understand the other person's perspective, and recognize that your escalation of the incident, although it may very well be warranted, is pushing you and the other party toward a battle that someone is going to lose. 

Conflict in life is inevitable.  Conflict escalation and intractability is not.  Be one of the first on your block to be the voice of sanity and work to understand, not to react.

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