More years ago than I care to recall, I was a college student
in the mountains of North Carolina, driving a 10-year-old Toyota Cressida
(remember those?) with sketchy heating but with everything else more or less
One evening in December, already dark, I was driving from the
adjacent city's library back to the college campus, on a road whose
"shoulders" were sheer rock face (this was a "cut," a road
hacked through the mountain in the days of tuberculosis sanitariums). I changed
lanes to avoid a two-car rear-ender in the right lane, passed the wreck, then
got back into the right lane and stopped for a red light.
Then I felt (and heard) WHUMP crash tinkle splinter. Yup. A
car had rear-ended me while rubbernecking the previous rear-ender!
"Onlooker delay" is pretty much my only traffic-related pet peeve, but
it's a big one. Hm, maybe that's why.
Interestingly, that's not the worst of it. Not even close.
I stood, shivering, for what felt like hours by the car while
justice ground onward. Numb, cold, in shock, dreading having to call my folks, I
nodded dumbly when the police-ordered tow guy asked me if I wanted the car towed
to "the nearest AAA garage." Now, of course, I would (I hope) be a
little savvier, but then I just went along. Surely the police would know of the
I didn't know that the "nearest AAA garage" was 30
minutes' drive away from my very rural college campus, across the city, in an
unsafe part of the city, on a downsloping gravel lot, surrounded by a chain-link
fence topped with coils of razor wire, and run by "Buddy."
My unceasingly patient friend at an adjacent city university
drove all the way over to collect me and all the way back, past where he lived
and on out to Buddy's Inn-at-the-Back-of-Beyond, numerous times, so I could
check the progress. The repair work needed was supposedly minor -- a new rear
bumper and a dent in the trunk -- but the days stretched into weeks, then
months. Now, of course, I would be much less patient, but in those days, all my
friends' cars were forever breaking down, I was busy with school, and it simply
didn't dawn on me how unacceptable the situation was. (Months!)
Meanwhile, the elusive Buddy (how did he stay in business when
he was so hard to get hold of?) somehow kept my friend and me strung along well
into April, placating, promising, and adding extras, such as repainting the hood
(well, it needed it). Black ice vanished, snow slowly melted away, timid buds
pushed forth and had time to burst into full flower. One of these days, school
was going to let out for the summer and I was going to need that car.
Finally, having had it, we somehow got the car back. There was
a new bumper on it. However, it didn't take long to discover that (a) the
"new paint job" on the hood and trunk was resolving into huge blisters
and (b) Buddy had somehow missed the tiny fact that the rear axle had been badly
damaged. Well, of course... easy to overlook ... he'd had the car for only five
When the car broke down a week later, I was very glad to see
the tow truck driver arrive after a 45-minute wait. As soon as I got into the
cab of his truck, he smilingly handed me a business card advising me to let him
tow the car ... to Buddy's.
I rather enjoyed tearing the car to pieces and ceremonially
burning it in the dormitory bathroom.
I had just turned 16 and gotten my license, so when it came
around to my family's "Friday night take out dinner" night, I happily
volunteered to take my new license out for a spin and pick up dinner. My
14 year old sister came with me.
As we were driving to go pick up dinner, I had to make a left
on a particular street. We were stopped at a red light and people were
crossing the street in front of our car. We were first in line in the left
hand turn lane. Well, one particular gentleman passed in front of our car.
Now my sister and I are (in my opinion) pretty cute and sometimes get looks from
guys. This was different. This guy stared, really stared at us.
You know, like when somebody is staring at something so hard when they are
walking and as they keep walking forward they keep staring and their head turns
backwards. It made us quite a bit uncomfortable. Of course, my
genius sister (in her own breach of etiquette - one of many from her!) thinks it
would be a good idea to point a certain finger at this person. Charming.
Just utterly charming.
Well, that must have opened some sort of floodgates, because
this guy stops in his tracks, turns back, and starts pounding on the car
shouting at us. I have never heard the word "b*tches" used more
in such a short time, not to mention other far less savory words that would have
(as they say) made a sailor blush. All this time, I am crying and mouthing
"sorry, sorry, sorry" over and over again. I am completely
freaked out. This maybe lasted for 30-45 seconds but it felt like an
eternity. Finally, the light turns green and I think this must be all
Nope! Since we were making a left from a busy street, I
had to wait until the light turned yellow (basically another cycle), before I
could turn. This guy follows my car into the intersection, all the while
cars are whizzing past him. He continues his tirade the whole time.
Finally, I get a chance to turn and slam on the gas to make my left. I
almost hit the guy, but frankly could not have cared less at that point.
As we drive away, I turn to my sister and yell, "Why the
heck did you do that, you jerk?!". Her response was "It wasn't
that big of a deal!" Yeah right!
When I was learning to drive, I lived in BC. There they have a
"graduated licensing programs" and learners have to display a big red
"L" sign on the back of the vehicle to let others know that the driver
is still learning and to give them a little extra space. Unfortunately, this
often ends up backfiring, with other drivers being really mean to the learner,
including honking them and cutting them off and just generally being jerks.
Anyway, one night I went out for a practice drive. It was
foggy--so foggy that you could barely see a foot past the front bumper. That
blinding white kind of fog that only makes the light of your headlights bounce
back at you, rather than helping you to see.
So obviously, I'm creeping along, as is 99% of the other cars
out there, so that we don't hit anything. Going that slow had nothing to do with
me being a learner; it was just unsafe to go any faster. At one point, I ended
up being the lead car on the main road. I was going about 40 kph, and there were
about six or seven cars behind me. No one was getting impatient because I was a
learner. Everyone was going that slowly because any faster would have been
dangerous. Well, I say that no one was getting impatient, except for one idiot,
he passes the whole line of cars, blaring on his horn all the way. In a double
yellow section of the road (where passing is illegal), in fog the consistency of
soup, passing at least six vehicles into oncoming traffic where no one will be
able to see you coming. What an idiot. He was just darn lucky that there wasn't
a semi coming the other way (and it was a "dangerous goods" route,
too!). As if the ten seconds he saved were worth risking his life.
My hubby and I were driving through the Jasper area. Speed
limits there are strictly enforced because of the prevalence of wildlife. And
we're not talking squirrels, were talking herds of mountain goats, full grown
moose, elk, deer, even grizzly bears. It's not just about not killing the
wildlife--it's about safety. You don't want to hit a full-grown moose at 90kph.
You'll both end up dead.
So I was taking my turn driving and going the usual 5 over the
speed limit that most of us do. A bus pulls up behind me and decides that's not
fast enough and starts tailgating. Getting tailgated by a bus while in a small
SUV...not fun. So I speed up a little to 10 over the speed limit. Still not
enough. Well, I've had enough, so I slow down to EXACTLY the speed limit. It was
windy road with no place to safely pass.
Bus tries to pass anyway, through a double yellow around a
blind corner. At the last second, he changes his minds and pulls back in behind
me. Good thing, too, because we turned the corner, and there was a full-grown
moose on the road! We all slam on our brakes and wait for the animal to go on
his merry way. Wildlife (especially wildlife of that size) always has the right
If I'd given in to the tailgater and been speeding, my hubby
and I would probably have been killed. So don't let anyone pressure you into
driving at an unsafe speed.
My husband, who was driving, and I were driving in town on a 4
lane (with an additional turning lane in the center) 2-way road in Ithaca, NY.
We were in the left lane. All of a sudden, a car traveling at a high rate of
speed in a 30 mph zone nearly clips our bumper and passes us on the LEFT in the
TURNING LANE, nearly clipping our bumper. If anyone had been using that lane,
there would have been a horrific accident. This guy then proceeded to veer in
and out of traffic with no signal and then had to stop for a red light.
Incensed, my husband pulls up behind this gentleman, and shows the driver that
he (my husband) is going to call the police on his cell phone. This guy became
quite irate and sped off at the green light, shouting and giving the finger all
the way. Well, my husband puts away his phone and we proceed to turn right on a
street that goes into downtown Ithaca. Our crazy driver friend decides to turn
right on a parallel street and meet up with us downtown at a red light. My
husband really did call the police this time and gave them a description of the
car and license plate number. This guy is making obscene gestures and swearing a
blue streak and threatening to get out of his car and "have a talk"
with my husband about the situation. The police dispatcher could hear every word
this guy was saying. When the light turned green, we both sped off and the guy
went into another side street. I'm not sure if the police ever stopped him, but
it amazes me that drivers can do such dangerous things and get angry and road
rage when law-abiding citizens decide to do something about it.
It was my daughter's first day of Kindergarten and her
first day riding the school bus, she was excited and I was a mess of course
watching my baby leave for school. All went well as she happily boarded
her school bus and she went off to school.
I anxiously waited for her to arrive home at the bus stop.
The bus comes down a four lane road in a residential area with a speed limit of
25 and due to some confusion on the part of the bus driver he stops in the lane
furthest from the curb with his red lights flashing - this leaves the lane on
the curb open. A fancy Cadillac pulls up into the curb lane as my daughter
is walking towards the school bus doors to get off. I notice as she
descends the stairs that the woman in the Caddy is slowly cruising forward in
her lane totally ignoring the flashing red lights (these mandate everyone in all
lanes MUST stop) and ignoring the open school bus doors. I realize as my
daughter starts down the steps that this woman is going to hit her in her
attempt to get past the bus. I freak out and jump in front of her car and
throw myself onto the hood (she wasn't going very fast) and scream at her that
she has to STOP. She does just long enough for me to get off her car and
then she screeches off. I am fine my daughter is fine but scared for weeks
about getting off the bus. I turned the offenders license plate number
into the police and they said they had a talk with her.
As a teen I was a passenger in a friend's car and we
were headed towards the mall when we crossed an intersection and a man in a
beat-up car flipped us off for not stopping to let him turn right in front of us
into our lane - our light was green so we had the right of way but he was trying
to bully his way into the busy intersection instead of waiting for his own light
to turn green. So being young and immature I flipped the bird in
response to his initial "birdie".
That must have sent him over the edge because he pulled out right behind our car
hanging out his window screaming at us. Then he passed us and using his
car forced us off the busy road right in front of the police station. He
got out of his car carrying a crowbar and screaming obscenities at us all and
waving the crowbar around as he came to my side of the car threatening to kill
me. My friend took off right as he swung the crowbar at my window and he
ended up denting the trunk. Stupid maniac man didn't realize that he was
in front of a police station and was promptly surrounded by police. I have
never again released my "birdie" from it's cage while driving. A
stupid reaction led to a lesson well learned.
I was in college which was about 2 hours by Interstate
from my home town. One late Sunday I was driving from home to my college
town and admittedly I was going waaayyyy over the speed limit, the road was
deserted and I was in hurry.
Out of nowhere a car comes screaming up on me and is right on
my tail - kind of scared me at first. I couldn't figure out why the car
didn't pass in the empty right lane as he came up to me since I obviously didn't
see him in time to move. As he continued to tailgate me I started getting
angry and considered hitting my brakes to give him something to think about -
but I decided that would be dangerous to us both. So instead I simply took
my foot off the gas and watched in my rearview mirror in amazement as my speed
went from above 80 mph to 15 mph and the car was still right behind me.
"What was up with this person?!" I thought..... Then as my car
coasted down below 15 mph the car behind me turned on it's blue and red flashing
lights and promptly pulled me over. It never once occurred to me it was a
police officer. I laughed at my stupidity and when I explained my thought
process to the officer he laughed to - then handed me my ticket.
This happened to me some years back in the Boston area. I was
driving on a road that was one lane in either direction, behind a car that was
going under the speed limit, with no other traffic in sight either ahead or
behind. We came to a red light where the road widened temporarily into two lanes
(it narrowed again soon after the light), so I pulled over into the right lane
so I could pass as soon as the light changed. Apparently the other driver was so
incensed that I had the nerve to pass him that he passed me by going over the
double yellow line into the oncoming traffic lane (which was still clear), then
proceeded to do 20 mph in front of me the whole rest of the time I was on that
road. While I may have been wrong to pass on the right (though there wasn't much
danger considering that the other driver was stopped at the time), passing
illegally just to piss someone off is not exactly the high moral ground either!
My sister and I were driving an elderly relative to El Paso,
Texas. We were in my Thunderbird. The headlights on this model
changed automatically in that if the sensor was turned on the lights would
brighten and dim automatically when faced with bright lights. This
particular part of the drive, about 10 miles outside of El Paso, we ended up
behind a double gasoline tanker truck. This truck was, unfortunately,
reflective. That's right, you guessed it, the headlights didn't know that
what was in front of us wasn't another vehicle and the lights kept going from
dim to bright and back again. My sister was driving and I was in the back
seat, trying frantically to tell her how to turn off the sensor. We didn't
do it fast enough, apparently, because the double tanker slowed down, got behind
us and proceeded to tailgate us at 80mph (we sped up to try to get away from
him) and flashed his headlights on and off. We were finally able to move
over and he went by us. My sister tried to catch up with him enough to get
the license number but it was obscured by dirt. We tried to get the
company license number but he sped away. I was able to get the name of the
company and called them the next morning to report the unsafe driving. As
I told the gentleman on the phone, even if we had been doing it on purpose (I
assure you we weren't!) there was no reason for his driver to exacerbate the
problem. He could have been the cause of a fatal accident very
My self-centered friend had my jaw hitting the ground with
this incident, even though I am very used to her focusing on herself!
My friend and I were sitting in her car in a drive-through waiting to be served.
My friend's foot accidentally slipped off the brake pedal and her car rolled
forward and bumped into the next car in the drive-through - totally my friend's
fault. She got out of the car with a sour look on her face and went
to inspect the damage to her bumper, while the girl in front also got out. The
girl said something about her car and my friend said "Your car! Who cares
about *YOUR* car? What about *MY* car?" This is where my jaw hit the
ground. Insurance information was grudgingly exchanged. I wished the earth
could open and swallow me up so I wouldn't have to be seen with such a rude and
This event happened about 5 years ago, but is still so
fresh in my mind because of the appearance of the other car involved. It was a
rainy night and I was driving about 25 miles from my mom's house to mine, which
required taking the freeway. I was going at least speed limit (where I'm from,
we consider MINIMUM speed to be 5 miles OVER the posted limit) but since it was
raining, I was slowing down to 65mph for once. Approaching a blind turn, which I
always hated navigating even on a clear sunny day, I came up quickly behind a
big rig in the middle lane doing about 55 while he was trying to pass an even
slower car which was in the slow lane. I checked my rear view mirror and didn't
see anyone for quite a ways, so I steered into the fast lane in order to pass
the big rig.
At this point the road becomes straight again but is now
rapidly descending downhill, causing the big rig to increase speed without
trying, and I was starting to realize I may not have time to pass him before I
reached my exit. I was already doing 70mph now and I wasn't about to go any
faster in the rain, and as I was about to take my foot off the gas completely to
go behind the big rig again I heard the faint sound of what sounded like a car
horn. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw nothing, but I kept hearing this
noise which was clearly NOT coming from the big rig. As I pondered this I saw a
faint light behind my car, not of headlights, but of an INTERIOR dome light. I
look again and here is this guy in his late 20's driving a light colored Volvo
with black and white Cow-hide patterned seat covers with NO headlights,
tailgating me so close that he was literally blocking my rear view mirror with
the darkness of his entire car (like I said, it was a dark night anyways which
is why I didn't notice him right away with no headlights). So I realized he's
trying to push me around the big rig. At this moment I realized I was not going
to make my exit for sure, but I still wasn't going to speed up anymore for this
jerk on my tail. I continued to cruise at the same speed, no break-checking
(which I tossed around in my mind for a few moments) until finally, a mile down
the road, I passed the big rig and made my way to the slow lane to take the next
exit and backtrack to my house.
Unfortunately for me, this guy wouldn't quit...he came up in
the center lane next to me, flipped me off (again with his interior dome light
on so I could clearly see it), and then jumped in front of me and BREAK CHECKED
me after I did nothing to him at all!! So I slowed way down to let him go ahead,
and just as I am exiting the freeway I see him SLAM on his brakes and he follows
me off!! I realized I was in a dangerous situation with a psycho and I'm a young
girl all alone, so I realize I can't possibly drive straight home or he could
follow me there. I head toward the nearest gas station, see a man pumping gas
(thank god!) and come barreling in next to him, rolled down my window, and
shrieked as loudly as possible, "This psycho is following me!! Call
911!" This Volvo actually followed me all the way into the gas station
still honking at me and flipping me off, until he saw the guy pumping gas look
up at him and start to walk toward him in a threatening manner (thank god for
gentlemen who are willing to help out a damsel in distress). The guy circled
around a few times as we waited for the police to come, and when the Volvo guy
saw them he stepped on the gas and took off. Seriously!! This guy RAN from the
police! I've never seen anything like it. I'm positive they got him, as I saw a
tow truck hauling that same Volvo later the same night. What a night. I think
about that guy every time I see a light colored Volvo...hopefully I'll never see
one with cow seat covers again! I'm sure that guy HAS to be in jail for some
psychotic behavior, right??
The other day, I was driving home from a friend's house with
my young son (7 months old) in the car. The road I was driving on had only two
lanes (one in each direction). There was a big rig semi truck in front of me,
turning left. As there was no left-turning lane, I waited (as I'm supposed to)
for him to complete his turn before entering the intersection (I was going
straight through). Just as I started to accelerate, a truck from two cars behind
me comes racing up on the shoulder, zips in front of me, and cuts me off so
close that I had to slam on my brakes to keep from hitting him. This was a
totally illegal move, as there was only one lane of traffic and no passing lane.
I leaned on my horn, and was very upset, especially since I had my son in the
car (and a "baby on board" sign in my back window made that very
And this idiot was driving a company vehicle--from the phone
company (which gives the worst service ever, but that's a whole other story).
The guy then tried to lose me in traffic, but I stayed with him (carefully), got
to the next red light just behind him and wrote down his license number. As soon
as I got home, I called the company to complain, and actually got an apology
from the manager on duty.
After a long day at school, I was driving home down a fairly
busy road. This road is a fairly major route, averaging 3 lanes of traffic
(occasionally 4). However, the speed limit is only 60km/h (around 40mph).
The particular stretch I was driving had 4 lanes, and I was in the lane second
from the right. I knew the far right lane was going to end (that lane only
existed for cars driving to the high school that is in that area).
I was going the speed limit and noticed a silver pick-up truck in my rear view
mirror riding rather close. No sooner had I noticed him in my mirror than
he pulled out to the right of me (in a lane that was ending in about 150 m, no
less) and passed me. I guessed he was doing at least 80km/h (50
mph). I was frustrated, but I continued and didn't act on my anger.
I mumbled to myself and wondered aloud, "Where's a cop when you need
one?" About 1 block later, I found myself coming up
behind this silver pick-up in a right hand turn lane. Out of
nowhere, another car (oddly enough, also silver) zooms right in front of
me, cutting me off without so much as a signal. I had to slam on my
breaks to avoid rearending him. I was fuming mad...Until the silver car
suddenly started flashing red and white lights. Oh yes, Ladies and
Gentlemen. This was an unmarked police car who caught the silver truck and
pulled him over. While I'm glad that the idiot was caught (in a community
safety zone too), I don't appreciate the dangerous move that the unmarked police
car took to do it. I did get my wish though! :)
My husband and I love to drive places, just for the fun of
driving. We have been known, at times, to drive clear across the state for no
real reason. As such, we've seen many and varied forms of road rage.
I have a story, and an observation. The story first -- it's
the most recent incident of road rage that happened to us, and it happened right
in the town we live. It's a little rural town, with small, one and two lane
roads throughout. My husband was driving, and I was passenger. We left our house
and came out onto a one way two-lane road, making a left turn into traffic and
heading over the viaduct. Once over the viaduct, the speed limit went from 35 to
25. From what my husband told me, there was behind us a silver minivan,
following rather close on our tail. He kept glancing in the rearview mirror, a
little concerned about how close they were getting, but as it was about 11:00 at
night and the lanes were pretty open, he figured they could pass at any time if
To his surprise, they continued to edge up on our tail, until
even I began to notice and get uncomfortable (and I'm not always the most
observant). My husband slowed down to the exact speed limit (he had been going
slightly above). The silver minivan abruptly swerved around him and shot down
the road at about 40 mph in the right lane, tires screeching, and my husband and
I let out little surprised laughs. The really surprising (and confusing) part
came next, though.
My husband proceeded down the road until he came to the light
he wanted to turn at, where the silver minivan was also stopped -- in the right
lane. My husband was still in the left lane. What's interesting about what
happens next is that when the minivan sped ahead of us, they had about a 3-4
minute window in which they could have quite easily switched back into the left
lane, but they didn't.
So the light turns green and my husband turns left -- and so
does the silver minivan. Illegally crossing two lanes of traffic in order to do
so. Then they start tailgating us again. My husband continues going the speed
limit, completely and utterly baffled by their behavior. At this point, the
street is no longer a two-lane one way, it's a two-way street with one lane each
way, so the silver minivan is stuck at the speed limit, which obviously
infuriates them. Finally, finally, we get to a point in town where they can pull
out from behind us, and they do so -- but not without first pulling up next to
us, rolling down their window, and screaming, "CRACKHEADS!" at us.
My husband and I cannot stop laughing whenever we recall this
incredible incident. We had no idea that obeying the law made a person a
The observation I have is this: I've noticed a growing
tendency among those who have committed some sort of driving blunder, where they
are clearly in the wrong, to smile and wave cheerily at the pissed off driver
that they've wronged. This happened whether they've cut them off, nearly knocked
them off the road, cut across lanes of traffic, or what have you. I know they
think they're being clever and cute and oh-so-smart, coming across as the calm
and smooth non-road-rage person. I wonder if they realize, at all, that what
they actually come across as is the ditz who has no idea they almost just killed
someone? I'm not condoning the pissed off, yelling, flipping the bird driver --
but further inciting rage but waving cheerily and smiling cheekily when you've
almost killed someone may not be the brightest course of action.
I was the passenger in my friend’s car recently when we were
victims of road rage. We pulled up to a light to take a left turn just as
the green arrow to make a left was turning yellow. To make a left at this
intersection, you have to cross two lanes of traffic so my friend stopped at the
light because it was clear she wasn’t going to be able to get across until the
arrow was green again. The guy behind us starts blowing the horn – I
guess he wanted her to pull into two lanes of traffic.
To get back at him we start going a touch below the speed
limit on a road where he cannot pass her. When we go to get onto the
highway, the guy goes up onto the grass to get around her, pulls his car in
front of her to block her & throws a cup of something (old coffee or soda?)
at the car! The windows were down because it was a nice day so it got all over
her & the interior of the car. He sped off and unfortunately she was
too nervous to speed up and catch him so we didn’t get his plate.
The only solace I have is he must be a miserable, lonely old
guy who hasn’t gotten any action in years to get so upset at two pretty young
girls driving down the road!
The street I drive home from work on is ALWAYS slow on
Fridays, and it's worse now that they've got it all chewed up for some
construction. There are a couple of side streets that feed into this road
and, since it's stop and go anyhow, most polite people let one in at a time. The
other Friday I'm driving along at the usual snail's pace and, when I get to an
intersection where there's a few cars waiting, I let one in. Like I said
before, it's nothing unusual; the person in front of me did the same thing.
Well, this is too much for the purple minivan behind me. When I don't
creep up to stay behind the car ahead of me, and let this girl in, she LAYS on
her horn. I check my rearview to see what the matter is, and this woman...
who is old enough to be my mother (and I'm no teenager anymore)... is flipping
me the middle finger. Even better? So is the teen boy in the
passenger seat. I just had to chuckle, because it's not like one extra car, or
me staying braked an extra couple of seconds in stop and go traffic, is going to
get her to her very important place any faster. Nice to know I won the
maturity battle on that front.
Page Last Updated September 18, 2008