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When road rage goes beyond the blast of a horn

By 4 September 2014 29

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Following Steven Bailey’s article on road rage in the Capital last week, I considered my own experiences on our roads. I strongly agree with Bailey’s call for greater police presence on the road. It’s an absolute necessity, especially in wet weather when people drive like maniacs, but also for the police to crack down on hostile behaviour from drivers.

Most people associate the phrase ‘road rage’ with the token aggressive horn tooting, abuse across lanes and middle fingers out windows. As far as I was aware, extreme cases of road rage that result in a physical confrontation are usually quite rare and I never thought I would be the victim of this kind of altercation.

In December last year, I was driving through Kingston on a rainy Sunday afternoon with my partner looking for a car spot. The speed limit on Jardine Street is 50 kilometres per hour and given the weather conditions, I was probably driving 40-45 kilometres per hour. As I approached the t-intersection of Jardine and Eyre Street the car behind me started going crazy flashing their lights, beeping their horn and waving their arms around like there was no tomorrow.

At first I didn’t realise that this behaviour was aimed towards me as I wasn’t doing anything wrong, I hadn’t braked suddenly for no reason and I wasn’t driving radically. I kept driving and started to turn right onto Eyre Street. As there was a string of parked cars restricting my vision, I inched out slowly as to not create a collision with any oncoming traffic. The beeping and the waving continued. I chose to ignore it and pulled into the big parking lot opposite the Cusack Centre. The car followed me, sped around the carpark easily doing 60 kilometres per hour and cut me off as I parked.

My partner asked what I was going to do and I said we’d get out of the car and walk to the shops like we had planned. I assumed the guy in the car would just drive off. I was wrong. As we were walking across the carpark, he got out of his car and ran up to us screaming in our faces. Suprisingly the first thing he said to me was “why did you take so long to turn at the t-intersection?!” I let him have it back, which I don’t think he expected. The abuse from him continued with him making several threats of violence towards my partner and I, plus a whole string of undesirable profanities. He stood within inches of me and I was bracing myself for a punch in the face.

Eventually he got sick of screaming at me and got back in his car. We got plenty of photos and a good description. I am forever kicking myself for not filming his outburst.

My immediate thought was to call the police, but felt guilty about wasting police resources so I called the Police Assistance Line (131 444). They were excellent and asked that we visit the station as soon as possible to make a formal statement. The statement was made and a week later we were called back to identify the perpetrator in a visual line up.

One officer told me that a lot of road rage victims don’t tend to make a police report after they’ve had an extreme confrontation because they don’t believe it’s worthy of police time, but that they absolutely should report these instances to police. The guy that abused me turned out to have a long string of driving offences and had been convicted of offensive behaviour on the roads previously. The police officer told me that if anything like this happens to me again I should not hesitate in calling the police as soon as I can and they’ll send a squad car if there’s one available.

If you experience anything similar to what I went through, I plead with you to make a formal police report. I’m fortunate that I am able to stand my ground and not cower away from someone screaming abuse in my face, but what if I was an elderly person or just a timid individual who doesn’t handle confrontation well? Innocent people should not have to put up with unwarranted abuse.

Have you ever been the victim of extreme road rage?

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29 Responses to When road rage goes beyond the blast of a horn
#1
Rollersk8r9:56 am, 04 Sep 14

Cool story bro. Although I’d argue most road rage (i.e. while on the road) is impossible to police. The tension and confrontation over the simple matter of entering the civic carparks and getting a ticket in the morning is astonishing. But in most cases you just have to get over it.

#2
Alexandra Craig10:31 am, 04 Sep 14

Rollersk8r said :

Cool story bro. Although I’d argue most road rage (i.e. while on the road) is impossible to police. The tension and confrontation over the simple matter of entering the civic carparks and getting a ticket in the morning is astonishing. But in most cases you just have to get over it.

Of course. I wouldn’t call the police over the usual road rage. Obviously only extreme circumstances – such as someone right up in your face threatening to punch your teeth in – require police intervention. And, I’m glad I did report this incident to the police – as I said in the article, the guy had a long history of driving convictions – most of which were for extremely aggressive behaviour. People like this shouldn’t have the right to hold a licence.

#3
ausbradr10:43 am, 04 Sep 14

Road rage just brews because very little people these days give a toss about anyone else. Some people seem to think they’re more important than anyone else really. Even just this morning, trying to change into the right lane on Drakeford drive to turn right into Greenway, as soon as I put the indicator on, an idiot in a blue corolla thought I wasn’t worthy enough of changing lanes and sped up, I just merged anyway as there was clearly enough room. An angrier person would probably want to punch that imbeciles lights out.

You can pretty much see how it all comes to blows. If you tick off the wrong person, it’ll happen. It’s not a very bright idea to be ticking off people from any walk of life you’ve never met using our roads either. You just don’t know what might happen next.

#4
Maya12310:47 am, 04 Sep 14

I was lined up in a Woden car park in a long slow line waiting to exit, when a woman came up to me and said she wanted me to let her car in front of mine. I told her she would have to get to the end of the line like everyone else. She let fly, screaming at me, saying among other things she would ram my car, etc. I didn’t buckle, so she tried the car in front who gave her as good as she gave. She tried me again. I told her she would have to wait longer to get her next fix and to sp… off. She was SCARY, but if her bully tactics worked she would continue to do this. In the end she went to the end of the line. I reported this incident to the police, but I heard no more.

#5
Madam Cholet1:30 pm, 04 Sep 14

Maya123 said :

I was lined up in a Woden car park in a long slow line waiting to exit, when a woman came up to me and said she wanted me to let her car in front of mine. I told her she would have to get to the end of the line like everyone else. She let fly, screaming at me, saying among other things she would ram my car, etc. I didn’t buckle, so she tried the car in front who gave her as good as she gave. She tried me again. I told her she would have to wait longer to get her next fix and to sp… off. She was SCARY, but if her bully tactics worked she would continue to do this. In the end she went to the end of the line. I reported this incident to the police, but I heard no more.

Technically ‘car park rage’ or maybe just ‘rage’?

#6
Alexandra Craig1:40 pm, 04 Sep 14

Madam Cholet said :

Maya123 said :

I was lined up in a Woden car park in a long slow line waiting to exit, when a woman came up to me and said she wanted me to let her car in front of mine. I told her she would have to get to the end of the line like everyone else. She let fly, screaming at me, saying among other things she would ram my car, etc. I didn’t buckle, so she tried the car in front who gave her as good as she gave. She tried me again. I told her she would have to wait longer to get her next fix and to sp… off. She was SCARY, but if her bully tactics worked she would continue to do this. In the end she went to the end of the line. I reported this incident to the police, but I heard no more.

Technically ‘car park rage’ or maybe just ‘rage’?

Today Tonight did a story on car park rage about 7 years ago where they said that the car park at your local grocery store was “the most dangerous place in Australia”. Classic.

#7
xcskier4:02 pm, 04 Sep 14

I think ‘ filming his outburst’ might have plunged him further into rage. I wonder if there is scope for some kind of dash cam?

#8
Alexandra Craig4:24 pm, 04 Sep 14

xcskier said :

I think ‘ filming his outburst’ might have plunged him further into rage. I wonder if there is scope for some kind of dash cam?

This is true. Ideally then, maybe just audio recording would have sufficed. Would have been easy enough to conceal.

#9
Antagonist4:48 pm, 04 Sep 14

There was a doozy in Kingston earlier this week in the morning (I was not involved). As has been pointed out earlier, it is difficult to find parks in Kingston at the best of times. An older lady was trying to reverse her car out of a disabled park. She walked over to an older guy (50+) who was waiting in his car for her to move so he could use the parking space. She explained that she needed him to move back a bit so she could reverse out without hitting him – she could not turn around in her seat very well due to a fractured back. Old mate was happy to oblige.

Along comes a young buck in his car (a Falcon no less!), who looked to be in his early 20s. He was beeping his horn at the older guy and yelling profanities to the effect of “move your car or I will ram it”. His actual language was far more colourful. When the lady had reversed out, old mate drove into the disabled carpark, stepped out of his car and walked around to the drivers window of young blokes car. Young bloke started swearing and threatening old mate from the comfort of his drivers seat … which was when old mate gave him a number of well deserved punches through the drivers window, to the cheers of a dozen or so old ladies (none looked a day younger than 70) who were also watching. They all gave him their contact details, and their parting words were ‘Good on you love! Thank you!’

I don’t agree with road rage at all, but gee it was good to see an old fella give a young buck a lesson in road manners.

#10
missjb4:52 pm, 04 Sep 14

I’m glad your complaint got taken seriously, Alexandra.
I encountered some nasty road rage one night leaving a football game at Canberra Stadium. When I called the assistance line the officer discouraged me from filing an official report, saying that I would end up in court and the process could take months to complete… This was a few years ago though, so hopefully things have changed.

#11
milkman7:50 pm, 04 Sep 14

When I was in my late teens (a loooong time ago) I had a guy get really worked up because someone cut him off and he tried to swerve around them but I was driving in the next lane so he had to jam on the brakes. For some reason he blamed me and started following me. When I stopped (near Kingston) he jumped out of his car and started screaming and running at the car, so I took off and drove about 20 metres. He kept running, so I moved another 20 metres. By now he was puffing and sweating and had a red face (he was a fat bugger in his 40s), so I just kept taking off and going a little bit. He must have chased my car on foot for about 2 kms, and he was so stuffed he could hardly walk. So I laughed and waved and drove off, and it was only then that he seemed to realise he had a long walk back to his car which was still running and blocking a lane with traffic queuing behind it.

#12
gooterz9:42 pm, 04 Sep 14

Had a ‘driver’ try to hit my car so I braked and he ended up smashing his hand on my side mirror.

The side mirror bounced back (Internal spring)..but I don’t think he felt so good afterwards.

#13
Alexandra Craig10:25 am, 05 Sep 14

milkman said :

When I was in my late teens (a loooong time ago) I had a guy get really worked up because someone cut him off and he tried to swerve around them but I was driving in the next lane so he had to jam on the brakes. For some reason he blamed me and started following me. When I stopped (near Kingston) he jumped out of his car and started screaming and running at the car, so I took off and drove about 20 metres. He kept running, so I moved another 20 metres. By now he was puffing and sweating and had a red face (he was a fat bugger in his 40s), so I just kept taking off and going a little bit. He must have chased my car on foot for about 2 kms, and he was so stuffed he could hardly walk. So I laughed and waved and drove off, and it was only then that he seemed to realise he had a long walk back to his car which was still running and blocking a lane with traffic queuing behind it.

Hahahaha. That’s hilarious. Maybe the exercise and fresh air gave him some perspective.

#14
VYBerlinaV8_is_back11:15 am, 05 Sep 14

Alexandra Craig said :

milkman said :

When I was in my late teens (a loooong time ago) I had a guy get really worked up because someone cut him off and he tried to swerve around them but I was driving in the next lane so he had to jam on the brakes. For some reason he blamed me and started following me. When I stopped (near Kingston) he jumped out of his car and started screaming and running at the car, so I took off and drove about 20 metres. He kept running, so I moved another 20 metres. By now he was puffing and sweating and had a red face (he was a fat bugger in his 40s), so I just kept taking off and going a little bit. He must have chased my car on foot for about 2 kms, and he was so stuffed he could hardly walk. So I laughed and waved and drove off, and it was only then that he seemed to realise he had a long walk back to his car which was still running and blocking a lane with traffic queuing behind it.

Hahahaha. That’s hilarious. Maybe the exercise and fresh air gave him some perspective.

I had a similar thing happen to me once too, where the guy thought he could catch my car on foot, so I just trundled along for a bit to give him some exercise. He would have been quite a bit faster if he hadn’t been screaming as well.

Some people just don’t have a brain.

I saw an altercation once in Kingston between an Action bus driver and a bloke who was waiting to park his car. The Action driver was obviously having a bad day, because he shouted obscenities through the open window at the older guy parking the car. The old guy shouted back to calm down, and the bus driver parked the bus in the bus stop and went back to have a go at the guy. I didn’t see how it ended.

Acting like an aggressive kn#b is never acceptable, but I can’t help but wonder if some such problems could be avoided if we focussed on driving a bit more considerately and stopped worrying about being in front quite as much.

#15
ausbradr12:51 pm, 05 Sep 14

“such problems could be avoided if we focussed on driving a bit more considerately and stopped worrying about being in front quite as much.”

This ^^. Road manners in this country generally suck. People need to think that if you wouldn’t do what you’re about to do, on foot in the shopping centre, then you probably shouldn’t do it on the roads.

#16
watto233:18 pm, 05 Sep 14

ausbradr said :

“such problems could be avoided if we focussed on driving a bit more considerately and stopped worrying about being in front quite as much.”

This ^^. Road manners in this country generally suck. People need to think that if you wouldn’t do what you’re about to do, on foot in the shopping centre, then you probably shouldn’t do it on the roads.

I have to agree and there are plenty of self righteous drivers out there too. Yes its not illegal to sit in the right hand lane at 80, but just drive in the left unless you need to be in the right. Yes people will speed pass you, but at least the bad driver is off down the road away from you and you’ll get tailgated far less. Just wave to them at the lights or something. I don’t get the mentality, you’ll just make a bad driver, angry and take more risks, risking more peoples lives.

#17
Tooks3:58 pm, 05 Sep 14

missjb said :

I’m glad your complaint got taken seriously, Alexandra.
I encountered some nasty road rage one night leaving a football game at Canberra Stadium. When I called the assistance line the officer discouraged me from filing an official report, saying that I would end up in court and the process could take months to complete… This was a few years ago though, so hopefully things have changed.

If you were actively discouraged from reporting your incident, that’s poor form. However, I think it’s important to give victims of crime a realistic idea of what to expect when going through the court system, even for a relatively minor matter.

There are people who regret making a statement when the matter is not resolved 6+months later.

#18
VYBerlinaV8_is_back4:40 pm, 05 Sep 14

watto23 said :

ausbradr said :

“such problems could be avoided if we focussed on driving a bit more considerately and stopped worrying about being in front quite as much.”

This ^^. Road manners in this country generally suck. People need to think that if you wouldn’t do what you’re about to do, on foot in the shopping centre, then you probably shouldn’t do it on the roads.

I have to agree and there are plenty of self righteous drivers out there too. Yes its not illegal to sit in the right hand lane at 80, but just drive in the left unless you need to be in the right. Yes people will speed pass you, but at least the bad driver is off down the road away from you and you’ll get tailgated far less. Just wave to them at the lights or something. I don’t get the mentality, you’ll just make a bad driver, angry and take more risks, risking more peoples lives.

Like.

#19
Brianna7:47 pm, 05 Sep 14

Kingston seems to have had more than its fair share of incidents. :o) By the way, I really wish we had a thumbs up or down button.

#20
Antagonist10:37 am, 06 Sep 14

Looking at the responses to the poll and the number of people who identify as being the victims of ‘extreme’ road rage, it appears to me that we have a need to make ‘road rage’ an actual offence with severe penalties to match. With traffic congestion only set to get worse in the coming years and driver attitudes becoming worse with it, we are only going to see these incidents becoming more frequent and serious. I hate nanny-state legislation, but the laws in their current form do not appear to be a deterrent.

#21
mr_wowtrousers12:13 pm, 06 Sep 14

Or alternatively, Australians need to get a grip. Drove for two years in Japan with very slow posted speeds and tonnes of cars, not a single incident of road rage. Was back in Australia for less than 24hrs before being honked at, flipped off and had a car used as a weapon against me.

Australians: oh yeah, they are super chilled. Leave the country for a bit and come back. Australians are super-pumped, aggressive and just looking for ways to let everyone know about it.

See also: getting aggressive while drinking. Japanese could give most Australians a run for their money when it comes to drinking. Zero aggression. Australians (men and women) after a night on the town? Just spoiling for a fight.

Calm . . . the eff . . . down. Take a breath and move on.

#22
bigred9:26 pm, 06 Sep 14

Antagonist said :

Looking at the responses to the poll and the number of people who identify as being the victims of ‘extreme’ road rage, it appears to me that we have a need to make ‘road rage’ an actual offence with severe penalties to match. With traffic congestion only set to get worse in the coming years and driver attitudes becoming worse with it, we are only going to see these incidents becoming more frequent and serious. I hate nanny-state legislation, but the laws in their current form do not appear to be a deterrent.

It is an offence. We are just not up to “road rage elimination by media release” month

#23
HenryBG10:48 am, 07 Sep 14

Brianna said :

Kingston seems to have had more than its fair share of incidents. :o) By the way, I really wish we had a thumbs up or down button.

A lot of “invalid pensioners” in their 30s and 40s in the area.

#24
Antagonist11:19 am, 07 Sep 14

bigred said :

Antagonist said :

Looking at the responses to the poll and the number of people who identify as being the victims of ‘extreme’ road rage, it appears to me that we have a need to make ‘road rage’ an actual offence with severe penalties to match. With traffic congestion only set to get worse in the coming years and driver attitudes becoming worse with it, we are only going to see these incidents becoming more frequent and serious. I hate nanny-state legislation, but the laws in their current form do not appear to be a deterrent.

It is an offence. We are just not up to “road rage elimination by media release” month

On this point I will politely disagree. There are a bunch of traffic offences that include furious driving and a bunch of others that may loosely be applied, but there is no such offence as ‘road rage’.

#25
dkNigs5:12 pm, 07 Sep 14

I’ve had people try to kill me on the road with road rage before, actually running me off the road. The police took a report, and did nothing.

Hell they submitted the report so badly that during a security vet I had to explain I wasn’t the one road raging, and had put the complaint in!

#26
Tooks6:05 pm, 07 Sep 14

Antagonist said :

Looking at the responses to the poll and the number of people who identify as being the victims of ‘extreme’ road rage, it appears to me that we have a need to make ‘road rage’ an actual offence with severe penalties to match. With traffic congestion only set to get worse in the coming years and driver attitudes becoming worse with it, we are only going to see these incidents becoming more frequent and serious. I hate nanny-state legislation, but the laws in their current form do not appear to be a deterrent.

No, we don’t need a road rage offence. We already have a range of offences for road rage incidents.

#27
Antagonist9:08 pm, 07 Sep 14

Tooks said :

Antagonist said :

Looking at the responses to the poll and the number of people who identify as being the victims of ‘extreme’ road rage, it appears to me that we have a need to make ‘road rage’ an actual offence with severe penalties to match. With traffic congestion only set to get worse in the coming years and driver attitudes becoming worse with it, we are only going to see these incidents becoming more frequent and serious. I hate nanny-state legislation, but the laws in their current form do not appear to be a deterrent.

No, we don’t need a road rage offence. We already have a range of offences for road rage incidents.

60% of respondents to the poll say they have been the victim of ‘extreme’ road rage. Clearly the laws in their current form are not working, or the police are cannot be bothered to enforce them. Either way, something needs to be changed (in addition to driver attitudes). For the record – I am very much a petrol head and Summernats regular.

#28
Evilomlap4:48 pm, 04 Nov 14

Why didn’t your partner at least stand between you and an abusive guy yelling in your face??

#29
Alexandra Craig11:46 pm, 04 Nov 14

Evilomlap said :

Why didn’t your partner at least stand between you and an abusive guy yelling in your face??

I stood in front of my partner so I was in between them both. While not the smartest move, I did it because I thought this guy would be slightly less likely to punch a woman than he would be to punch a man.

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