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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Why all the rage?

Road rage exists everywhere.  Searching related news stories on the Internet regularly reveals the tragic outcomes of such events.  Just last month, a Florida man was slain in front of his family when an outraged motorist followed him to his residence after an “aggressive interaction” on an area roadway and shot him.

Anger experienced while driving can easily escalate. One definition I found describes road rage as, “violent anger caused by the stress and frustration involved in driving a motor vehicle in difficult conditions.”

To that I suggest:  Don’t get angry, resist stress, and avoid frustration while driving.  It may be easier said than done for some, but it’s an advisable approach.

I’ve had drivers tell me that they see growing evidence of anger on the roads here in the form of undue “competition.”  For example, they experience the wrath of others simply by merging ahead of them or impeding their progress in the normal course of driving.

S.L. related a story of a driver he tried to merge ahead of onto Interstate 90.  When trying to merge into the space ahead of the touchy driver, the touchy driver sped up, thwarting S.L’s maneuver while displaying single-finger gestures with both hands.  Then, the angry one positioned himself ahead of S.L., slowed, and took the next exit.

If the offending driver would simply have maintained his speed, he would have ended up behind S.L.’s vehicle, not been inconvenienced in any way, and been able to then take his exit without any issue whatsoever.  Evidently, that was not so obvious to the illogically angered driver.

Such ire seems to rise from a latent desire of some drivers to keep everyone behind them.  I’ve even had drivers obviously speed up to make the situation appear dire, so they could honk their horn when I’ve pulled onto a roadway they are approaching on.  I’ve also experienced that behavior a few times when making a left turn in front of oncoming traffic even when allowing ample time and space.

Just yesterday, I received a honk from the driver behind me when I turned off an arterial, using my signal and slowing appropriately.  I actually make those turns quicker than the average driver, but evidently still not quick enough for this selfish driver who doesn’t like to accommodate normal driving occurrences.

I do find driver tolerance to be lower here than in California, for example.  Though rage occurs everywhere, I find drivers to be generally more courteous there.  I think that reality results from their greater traffic and more frequent slowdowns.  Adopting a calm and cooperative attitude there is the best approach to dealing with such density.

Here, I suspect, having fewer vehicles and traffic jams, many drivers become upset at the slightest slowdown or accommodation.  But whatever excuse is offered for the lack of tolerance, resulting agitation and potential rage, it’s not a worthy one.

Doctors at the National Institute of Health have noted that some drivers have Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED) underlying their incidents of road rage.  If you think that describes you, seek help!

If you find yourself regularly tailgating, using your horn, changing lanes, or gesturing to other drivers, you may suffer from IED.  If you become the victim of such behavior, don’t make eye contact or engage the offender, but rather strive to get clear of them.

Readers may contact Bill Love via email at