Lane merge and road rage

Dec. 08, 2012 @ 12:04 PM

“Get rid of all the BMWs,” Fred said.

My husband has a warped sense of judgment when it comes to drivers of BMWs. He just doesn’t like them. Rid America’s roadways of BMW drivers and Fred’s road rage problems would be solved.

That’s not the truth. He just got ticked off when a right-lane-merging car invaded his lane too aggressively.

“It’s not a BMW,” I quietly point out. 

He shouts some not-so-nice words to the other driver. Honestly, I’m the only one that really hears them. The other driver is probably laughing, knowing Fred’s upset. Plus, that driver is a car ahead on busy Fairview Road, which is being repaved.

“Fred,” I say. “I recently read a Texas Transportation Institute study finding the car that goes by in the empty soon-to-be-closed lane is speeding up this merge mess. It’s better to work the merge in zipper fashion, use all the lanes available, merging only when required.”

I sling this phrase “road rage” around like it’s self-explanatory. Everybody knows the term. Angry, aggressive, mean behaviors by automobile drivers.

The AAA Foundation, in its Aggressive Driving Update, calculated that 56 percent of fatal accidents had road rage as a component. 

There are tips to apply so that etiquette we practice inside our homes can be practiced inside our automobiles, trucks or vans:

  • Sleep, just not while you’re driving. All of us keep our cool better when we have enough sleep the night before.
  • Plan ahead. Try to build in enough time to get to your destination. Extra time means a calmer driver.
  • Turn down the bass on your sound system. Aggressive music makes aggressive behavior.
  • Relax, loosen up and breathe deep.
  • Your car is not your instrument to work off your anger at your boss, family or whomever.
  • Try to use etiquette and good manners; if others act like a jerk, it doesn’t mean you have to. Extend courtesies to other drivers.
  • Don’t take it so personally – the other person might just be a terrible driver, not out to get you.