Coping with road rage
Twenty minutes is a long time to stay mad. According to Virginia State Police, that's how long it took two drivers to work out their issues on Interstate 95, with a most unsatisfactory result. Both men are charged with attempted murder after a Tuesday afternoon duel between a dump truck and a Jaguar along four miles of southbound interstate in Prince William County.
A court will have to sort out exactly what happened, but the incident offers us a chance to discuss a topic that was all the rage a few years ago, but only occasionally arises now, in an age when we're more likely to be distracted by cellphone users and texters.
Our local jurisdictions did pass laws that enhanced the charges against road rage. And police do conduct their periodic Smooth Operator campaigns against aggressive drivers.
Still, the phenomenon seems to have a lower profile now. Driver anger seems to come up most often when we discuss the rules for merging on crowded roadways. I periodically urge people not to self-deputize and attempt to enforce traffic laws without benefit of a badge. Nor is it necessary for a driver to prove his righteousness to a total stranger in these situations. Just let it go.
This is very common advice for avoiding road rage:
* Leave yourself enough time for the drive. Anxiety contributes to road rage.
* Don't take it personally. You don't have to prove anything to a complete stranger.
* Don't let issues that have nothing to do with driving cloud your judgment in reacting to a traffic incident.
* Get some sleep. Tired drivers -- and we have lots of them in the Washington region -- are prone to be irritable.
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