Road Rage – What is at risk?

I was driving to a claim yesterday when I witnessed a very dangerous road rage incident.

There was a long line of traffic in the right hand lane waiting for the arrow to turn green. A driver, who I later found out was lost turned from the centre lane right. The driver in the car behind who was well back, immediately sped up but the first car kept coming.

A game of chicken ensured as the two cars vied for the one lane in the side street and it looked as if the first car would hit a pedestrian coming out from between parked cars and the car that had rushed up to block the gap incensed that the first car had broken a road rule and delayed them by 0.5 of a seconds was going to have a head on accident with a car coming from the opposite direction.

Luckily the second car braked heavily, the first car swerved and missed the pedestrian.

The second car then hung well back until the first car stopped to turned right down yet another side street, this time from the correct position and the second car pulled up and started yelling and screaming at the driver of the first car. This driver fortunately did not respond but drove off when it was safe to do so.

I was following the first car and ended up beside them in a petrol station to fill up. I could not help myself from explaining that I had witnessed everything that had happened and that it was lucky that no one was hurt. The driver explained at that point that he had got lost and had been driving around getting increasingly frustrated and when he saw the street he needed he was in the wrong lane. It was a major divided road and he did not know where he could do a U turn and so made the turn believing he had plenty of room
to do it safely. I had to agree that if the second car had not sped up as soon as he had put his indicator on, it would have been.

He then explained that he kept going as he thought the  second driver should not be rewarded for showing no road courtesy and he said that 99 times out of a 100 he would not have pushed the issue and it was only because he was already frustrated by being lost and late that he did what he did.

We discussed what would have happened if the pedestrian had of been hit (probably killed at the speed he would have been hit) or there had been a head on. Either way the ramifications could have been life changing for more than one person.

In our time poor increasingly stressful world it is easy to lose our cool. I know I can get frustrated when cars keep pulling in front of me because I always allow a safe breaking distance between me and the car in front. But I have learned that it is better to take a big deep breath, put on some soothing music than let my emotions get to me.

I feel much better for it and feel I will live longer as a result (in more ways than one). I think my new motorist friend will think twice before he allows road rage to get the better of him.

I say all of this in the hope that at that split second when you have to react to the perceived discourteous behaviour of another motorist that you consider the possible consequences. Is the other person twice as big as you? Do they have weapon? Are they drunk or on drugs such as ice (crystal methamphetamine hydrochloride)? Are they even discourteous or just lost, disorientated or attending to an emergency?

Stay safe, arrive alive, sleep well at night (and keep your no claim bonus).

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