The subject of road rage is on my mind because I witnessed an incident of it during a recent trip to Los Angeles and when I returned, a client presented with some big consequences for his episode. As we all know, these outbursts remain common despite stronger laws in many areas, resulting in harsher punishment for the offenders who get reported.
No surprise, road rage is more common amongst men than with women, as men generally express more aggressive behavior than do women. One curious observation that I’ve made over the years, including in the two instances alluded to above, is that many of the offenders are essentially (very) nice guys who commit an act of road rage impulsively during a period of high stress or frustration in their lives. Their manifested aggression is uncharacteristic of their typical behavior.
Not that I’m “holier than thou,” because I’ve “been there and done that” with regard to road rage. Happily, I’ve chosen and exercised much more restraint in recent years.
I was a front-seat passenger in the car with Bob (name changed) in L.A. as he was pulling out of a store lot onto a busy street. When he assertively, yet safely, tried to enter the street in front of an approaching car, the female driver abruptly circled around him and cut him off. Each driver vehemently “gave the finger” to the other. Fortunately, neither forced the issue beyond that. However, I was stunned by Bob’s verbal response to me: “If I had a gun, I’d want to shoot her!” What an extreme reaction from a man who is usually centered and level-headed.
My client George (fictitious name) impresses me as as a very kind, caring and considerate man in so many respects. He became impatient with a woman driving in front of him, who remained in the left lane. Annoyed that she didn’t change lanes after he flashed his lights and honked his horn, George attempted to pass her on the right. As he proceeded to do so, she suddenly moved over, panicked as she saw him entering the right lane, and hit a guard rail. Noticing the accident in his rear view mirror, ¼ of a mile down the highway, George called 911 to report it. Witnesses corroborated the woman’s account of the incident and George was cited for reckless driving, a charge that not only resulted in a lot of points on his license, but also the likelihood of a hefty fine, possible jail time, and the loss of insurance from a company who has insured him for fifteen years (hence, a big rate increase elsewhere).
Caveat emptor! Anger management or self-control pays handsome dividends.