A few years ago, when I was about 17, I was driving to the movie theater with a male friend. We were taking a back road through the woods which led up to one of the main roads that ran through town. The road we were on was heavily wooded and not very well-lit, and ended in a T-bone with the main road at the top of a curving hill; the main road had a large curve (25 mph speed limit) right before where it was met by the back road. There was a stop sign at the top of the hill, and traffic on the main road had the right of way.
Once we reached the top of the hill, we stopped at the stop sign for a good 5-6 seconds. I’m always cautious at that stop sign, as people have been known to whip around that curve and hit people merging onto the main road. After waiting at the stop sign and seeing no oncoming cars, we began to turn left onto the main road when a huge pickup comes whipping around the curve, he was definitely not going the prescribed 25 mph speed limit. I slammed on my brakes, as did he, and he laid on his horn. I rolled down my window slightly and said, “I’m sorry”, as kindly as a scared 17-year-old girl could. He turned left onto the back road, and I continued onto the main road.
Next thing I know, I see the pickup do an (illegal) U-turn and turn back onto the main road behind us. At that point, I’m worried, as the other driver seemed pretty mad about the whole incident, and I decide to take some side streets to get to the theater, and hopefully, lose him in the process. Every turn we made, he was right behind us, speeding up, riding our tail, flashing his lights, etc. Finally, we get on the street that leads into the shopping complex that houses the movie theater, and we get stopped by a red light. I lock my doors just in time to see the guy slam on his brakes an inch from my back bumper, get out of his car, and start walking towards my car. He gets to my window and slams on it with his fist three or four times, and yells, “What the f*** is wrong with you?!? I could f****** kill you right now!” He looked as if he was going to bang on the window again, but just then he peered into my car and saw my male friend in the passenger seat. At that, he turned on his heel, stormed back to his truck, and took off, actually drove his truck through the bike lane next to us (with his right wheels on the sidewalk), flipping us the bird all the while, and peeled off into traffic.
Now, whether I was at fault for the near-collision or he was, I don’t know, and really don’t care. At the time, I didn’t know whose fault it was, but for the sake of politeness, I apologized to the other driver, let him continue on first, and went on my way. His behavior, on the other hand, was ridiculous and, frankly, frightening. 10-13-08
I had a similar experience at about the same age only it was a car full of men that chased and intimidated me. We can all agree that road rage is a violent expression of extreme self-centeredness. How dare you cut *me* off! How dare you impede *my* movement on the road! It’s all about *ME* and *MY* rights to the road.
Behind the wheel of a vehicle and alone on the road, angry people have what they think is a safe venue to let vent with all manner of behavior they wouldn’t consider attempting in a more public situation. Cocooned in a one-ton vehicle empowers them to drop the social inhibitions and let fly with behavior that is both dangerous and anti-social in any other context.