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


Avoid controlling others

Attempting to control or correct the behavior of other drivers is generally pointless and may even lead to road rage.  Try to take appropriate action to accommodate their driving shortcomings, but otherwise avoid engagement.

For example, when someone makes a right turn across the nose of your vehicle from your left, be happy if you avoided a strike.  Horn honking, yelling out the window or offering a single-finger salute won’t correct the error and may exacerbate the situation.

Often, the offender will not even know they made a mistake and will retaliate with their own honk, yell, finger or worse.  For what should be minor forgotten incidents, many drivers have been hunted down and forced into confrontations involving injury or death.

On Oregon’s Interstate Highway 84, I witnessed a driver who moved into the about-to-be-closed right-hand lane of a construction zone every time another vehicle tried to drive there.  Evidently, the enforcing driver felt that everyone should have already merged out of that lane by then (shortly after “right lane closed ½ mile ahead” sign) and was determined to thwart anyone from traveling further within it.

If you are passing by a long line of stopped traffic up to the merge point, you are undoubtedly raising the ire of some motorists, as depicted by the example above.  However, expert opinions on the topic reveal that an orderly “zipper merge” is most efficient at such zones, where  both lanes are employed right up to the merge, with a “take turns” approach blending into the open lane at that point.

Again, there is no positive outcome resulting from attempts to control traffic, and doing so will likely kindle bouts of road rage.  In fact, in the scenario I witnessed last year, plenty of horn honking, shoulder passing, and open-window yelling ensued, accompanied by quite a few hand and finger gestures.  The deterioration of patience and the escalation of rage were caused by the driver who evidently felt he was doing the right thing by controlling others.  From what I saw, it was quite apparent he was doing the wrong thing.  Attempting to control traffic is the wrong thing to do even when your take on the situation is right, but it’s doubly wrong when you are acting from a false set of road rules.

A few years ago, I experienced a driver acting from some unknown set of rules as I drove through Moscow, Idaho headed to Lewiston.  Just south of town, I directed a very light horn honk at a vehicle I encountered on the highway.  The pickup truck had sat motionless in front of me for a few seconds, not turning left from the highway despite no oncoming traffic.   I saw that the driver was looking downward possibly at something in the seat, so since there was no paved shoulder and I wanted to proceed, I offered the slightly audible reminder.  As he turned left into a parking lot, he stuck his head out the side window screamed, “What’s your f----n’ hurry?”

I concluded that he must have resented traffic passing through his small town, perceiving that it consists of vehicles speeding with drivers too hurried.  I guess he feels accordingly justified to slow the progress of such travelers.

When driving, simply avoid anger. Further, don’t transfer that anger to others or try to control their driving — there’s little to gain and plenty to lose.

Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at