Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Road rage accelerates for holidays

December 24, 2006

Advertisement

Neither pear-tree partridges nor roasted duck are the type of holiday bird drivers sometimes serve up this time of year.

Auto insurance companies, law enforcement officers and psychologists caution that aggressive actions and responses - gestures, words or actions - behind the wheel can lead to nothing but trouble.

"If you let yourself be carried away by road rage, the vast majority of the time you're going to wind up with a bad decision," said Gary Sollars, chief executive officer of Charlton Manley Insurance, 211 E. Eighth St. "And bad decisions lead to bad accidents. We find a lot of accidents stem from just losing your good judgment for a brief time."

According to a recent national survey of 1,000 motorists by Leflein Associates in Ringwood, N.J., 50 percent of drivers said they have participated in aggressive behavior when they've been cut off, tailgated or "given the finger."

Thirty-four percent of drivers honk their horn, 27 percent yell, 19 percent give the finger, 17 percent flash their headlights, 7 percent mimic the offense and 2 percent admit to trying to run the other driver off the road.

Not much has changed in the years since a similar survey was taken in 1999, said Ray Palermo, director of public relations for Meriden, Conn.-based Response Insurance, the national auto insurance company that commissioned the survey.

The new survey includes information about driving while using a cell phone. Surveyed cell phone users are 15 percent more likely to honk, 10 percent more likely to yell and 9 percent more likely to give the finger than those who don't use cell phones.

Lauren Schwab, of Chicago, shown driving down Massachusetts Street on Thursday, says that she regularly experiences road rage in Lawrence. A recent national survey found that 50 percent of drivers said they have participated in aggressive behavior when they've been cut off, tailgated or "given the finger."

Lauren Schwab, of Chicago, shown driving down Massachusetts Street on Thursday, says that she regularly experiences road rage in Lawrence. A recent national survey found that 50 percent of drivers said they have participated in aggressive behavior when they've been cut off, tailgated or "given the finger."

Since 2003, aggressive or antagonistic driving has been attributed to 714 accidents, resulting in 15 deaths, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation.

"On holidays, there's always more people on the roads, so there's always more potential for accidents to occur," said Lt. Robert Baker of the Kansas Highway Patrol.

Lauren Schwab, 23, a senior at Kansas University and a server at Vermont Street BBQ, admits she can be an aggressive driver.

"I just have absolutely no patience on the road," said the southside Chicago native. "I speed up and cut people off. If somebody is tailing me, I slam on the brakes."

Such aggressive driving manifests itself around the holidays when people are more stressed.

"I think we're particularly prone to project our feeling of anger or stress on strangers at this time of year," said Marciana Vequist, a licensed psychologist at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center in Lawrence. "People are not paying as close attention to their driving as they usually do and other people are more stressed out and would overreact."

The antidote to this aggression, to some, is simply to back off. Some drivers have a sense of humor about those who rant at perfect strangers to gain a few extra seconds.

"It's hilarious," said aspiring chef Jesse Murphy, 24, of Lawrence, who thinks that no response is the best for angry drivers.

"I prefer giving a 'thumbs-up' to giving 'the bird,'" said Casey Thornburgh, 23, a recent graduate in film from KU who grew up watching her dad honk and tailgate drivers.

Comments

sublime 8 years, 4 months ago

My wife loves her horn.She has a 10 second rule.If she honks it will be at least 10 seconds.10 seconds might not sound like that long,but it is when your honking......I scream and cuss.....for these reasons1) tail gaters 2)Idiots that "stand" on thier brakes at a green light 3)idiots that refuse to drive the speed limit 4)idiots that feel the need to come to a complete stop while turning-as if they will somehow roll thier vehicle at 3 mph. 5) These losers that speed up to cut you off when they see your turn signal come on 6)These morons that will back up half a mile of traffic to make a left turn when they could drive another block and use the light( you will see this move every day on Iowa between 9th and Bob Billings) 7)People that stop for no apparent reason.......You can go to Dillons on23rd or Wal Marts parking lot,but beware both are full of jackass idiot drivers.....Don't you just love it when they f*** up and then they flip you off? I think if people were not so rude and disrespectful there would not be so many road rage incidents .

reginafliangie 8 years, 4 months ago

Oh sublime I'm totally am on board with all your complaints. I also want to add a few. The middle lane (especally on 23rd st) is a turn lane. Move into it if you want to turn, don't stop in the left hand lane and tie up traffic. It is also not a merge lane. I don't have a problem with using it to wait until traffic is clear to pull out, but driving down the road for several yards to merge into traffic is a traffic accident waiting to happen. How can others who need to use the lane supposed to get over if your crusing down the road in it? My other pet peeve is people who think they need to swing out 20 feet from the side of the road to make a turn. This make absolutly no sense to me. I also find it amusing that this girl in the article admits to cutting people off and driving badly but then has the gall to get mad at someone tailgating her. Maybe they are doing that to get back at you for cutting them off. Stop acting like a spoiled little brat and think about your actions and what you are creating when you do your little "move" to others. Doesn't anyone have any respect for others anymore? If you are going to stop in the middle of the street to turn, use your signal. The other drivers around you have no idea why we are stopped in the middle of the street. I have to assume that your going to turn, but I have been wrong in the past. Another little piece, when you see signs, lights, and other warning signals several miles away that the lane is going to end, get over then, don't try to speed your butt up to the front of the line and cut people off or act like "you didn't know" that the lane was ending. If you didn't see the signs then you shouldn't be driving because your obviously not paying attention to the road or your surroundings. You can bet your not getting in front of me, you can go ahead and hit me, it will be your fault, but that type of attitude that your time is more valuble than others and the rude way you just run over others so you don't have to wait in line with others really frosts my cookies! So everyone, no matter what time of year, be curtious to others and respectful, it will save alot of money and time, and possibly lives from accidents.

cms 8 years, 4 months ago

I am of the opinion that most drivers do not have the intellect to be a vehicle driver. Yes, they can operate the vehicle but do not have the broad thought process one needs to maintain consistant and easy flow to their driving. I also attribute some driving problems to cell phone and now text messaging use.

"Another little piece, when you see signs, lights, and other warning signals several miles away that the lane is going to end, get over then, don't try to speed your butt up to the front of the line and cut people off or act like "you didn't know" that the lane was ending" Traffic engineers will disagree with you. Piling into one lane miles ahead of a merge makes a traffic bottleneck even worse.

If one would quit thinking that "someone is trying to get ahead of me", most road rage problems would disappear.

If I may add one more irritant, driving in the passing lane. I often wonder if driving schools teach that slower traffic stays to the right and that the left lane is for passing.

sublime 8 years, 4 months ago

Another little piece, when you see signs, lights, and other warning signals several miles away that the lane is going to end, get over then, don't try to speed your butt up to the front of the line and cut people off or act like "you didn't know" that the lane was ending. posted by " reginafliangie"----------No sh!t. Thanks for adding that one. When I see that happen ,I make those idiots wait...You should all do the same.

sublime 8 years, 4 months ago

Posted by shadower (anonymous) on December 24, 2006 at 8:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

sublime, sounds like Santa needs to bring you a gift certificate for a session with a good anger management counselor. Although sounds like you would need more than 1 session.

Maybe, but I would settle for some hydrocodone and a xanax.

frank regnier 8 years, 4 months ago

Maybe automakers need to invent a "explosive device" so when tail gaters decide to ride your bumper, the device activates and disintegrates the offending tail gater. The device could also be mounted on the front of the vehicle, so those who think they can talk on their cell phones while driving and those who like slowing down traffic intentionally, the device would activate and disintegrate them into smaller molecules. Just a thoughtful idea for automakers. Merry Christmas road rage drivers!

budwhysir 8 years, 4 months ago

Sounds like alot of us can see exactly what the other person is doing wrong.

Politicaly speaking, there are plent of people who know how to drive but choose to forget how. Road rage is not a problem it is an expresion of feelings. It sure seems we have alot of people with some pretty strong feelings of dislike.

Cant we all just slow down and get along for a while. After all tis the season. And Santa is watching to see who is naughty and who is nice.

gccs14r 8 years, 4 months ago

If you're frequently on the receiving end of road rage, the problem is you. Figure out what part of your driving needs improvement (take lessons if necessary) and quit being an obstacle to traffic. If you find yourself frequently shouting at other drivers, learn how to read traffic patterns and figure out what you're doing to box yourself in. Blowing a gasket won't get you there any faster.

gccs14r 8 years, 4 months ago

"She had a 'water pistol' that was VERY realistic-looking."

That's a good way to end up dead. Some folks shoot back. If nothing else, she might end up on the receiving end of a felony car stop for brandishing a weapon. Protesting that it's a water pistol won't keep her from getting asphalt prints on her breasts.

true_patriot 8 years, 4 months ago

gccs14r - yep, exactly right on both points - if someone is always annoyed by other drivers and getting into bird-flipping sessions and near-accidents, they are the cause of the problem. And yep, brandishing a weapon fascimile in a threatening manner is not only illegal but will get your ass shot if you try it on enough people

someone mentioned people snoozing in the passing lane - i find this particularly annoying, especially since there are signs posted to remind people. In some states it is actually a law to stay in the right lane except for passing and you can get ticketed for camping out in the passing lane. I passed to such clueless drivers on K-10 this evening (a PT Cruiser and a Ford Explorer). I've been driving all over this country in all kinds of vehicles for many years now and people are definitely worse at highway driving than ever before, and that includes truck drivers as well ... Lots more independents maybe?

budwhysir 8 years, 4 months ago

I can not even fathom the fact that in todays world we have a classification known as road rage. What a completly left wing politicaly correct classification for peoples in ability to wait thier turn and go with the flow.

Whats next, work rage, or grocery store rage. We will probably have people throwing tomatoes at each other if the express lane is shut down at noon time.

Also, does it seem politicaly correct to have turn lanes, with the way people drive, we could just make our turns from the side walk or grass.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 8 years, 4 months ago

I always wanted to print up a piece of paper saying "Congratulations, you've won. You made it to the red light before the rest of us." Then jump out of my car and give it to the driver who recklessly jumps from lane to lane, going over the speed limit, cutting off cars, then arriving at the same red light 1 second before everyone else. I would do it, if there wasn't the danger of being shot.

Mike Blur 8 years, 4 months ago

If you're gonna pull a gun out on the roadways, it better be real, and cocked and loaded.

You have no idea who is in the other vehicle.

In other words, brandishing any kind of weapon (realistic or not) on the roadways is not recommended.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.