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What’s your worst Canberra road rage experience?

Jane Speechley 25 June 2017 27

Road Rage

It’s been a while since I’ve encountered a real example of road rage, and it got me thinking – when has this happened to you?

The other evening I was driving home, after a trip to the chemist no less, to pick up all the drugs to treat my first decent flu of the season.

Turning left out of the main street of Queanbeyan – diagonally opposite the police station – I had a red turn light that remained while the main light was green.

This was not good news for the person in the large white dual-cab ute behind me, who was clearly very important and in a serious rush.

When the light turned green, he or she waited precisely no seconds to sit on the horn.

And I mean, literally, as soon as the light changed – with pedestrians still on the crossing – old mate was hard on that horn.

I really do try not to aggravate people on the roads, most of the time. Previously, anyone who has beeped me when I have been too slow to move off has gotten a quick response and an apologetic wave.

But in this situation, I did what I think any sane person would do: I took that corner more cautiously (read: slowly) than I normally would. Because I’m not going to be rushed into a dangerous situation.

Obviously, this was a huge affront to Quicky McHornface behind me, who proceeded to follow me, tailgating and high-beaming all the way to my home street. A good 15 minutes drive away, in total.

That’s some serious commitment. Who is in such a rush, but can afford to go that far out of their way?

I’m sure I was dealing with a 17 year old with feelings of inadequacy and a big hormonal chip on their shoulder. I think he (or she!?) was doing their best to intimidate me, and they might have succeeded if I was alone or feeling vulnerable.

Fortunately, this was not the case – if only they knew how much my passenger and I were laughing at them from inside our cabin.

I’ve written before about the lunatic behaviour of some people on our roads and some of our worst driving habits – both of which can cause a fair bit of frustration.

Just last week, some twerp overtook me (and about three other cars) at about 40kms above the speed limit, in the inside turning lane, before cutting off a line of other cars and very nearly causing a major accident.

It was irritating, but it didn’t occur to me to follow them and seek revenge. Quite the contrary – I was happy for him or her to get as far away from me as possible.

But you’ve gotta wonder – why are these people so angry?

Here in Canberra, for example, we reside in one of the most liveable cities in the world. We have good socio-economic conditions, good-quality roads and pretty reasonable commutes by most standards.

Why are some of us so mad?

It’d be easy to blame the pace and stress of modern life. But road rage isn’t a new phenomenon. In fact, it was the subject of Steven Spielberg’s first full-length feature film as a director, the 1971 classic, Duel.

I’m not sure if road rage is becoming more common, or we’re just hearing more about it.

Google it, and you’ll find news stories about angry drivers ploughing through fences and multiple vehicles, abusing truckies and climbing onto their vehicles, and wild all-in brawls on the road.

The most likely reason seems to come down to individual personalities.

Last year, researchers from the University of Queensland School of Psychology found a clear link between driver aggression and narcissistic personality traits (which include a lack of empathy, need for admiration, sense of entitlement and willingness to exploit others to achieve one’s own ends).

Notably, the researchers also found those who reported experiencing driver aggression – either as a victim or perpetrator – were 158 times more likely to report having been involved in a crash. Yikes.

So it’s not just a matter of harmlessly blowing off some steam. There are real consequences here. This guy lost his job, but he might be considered lucky – others have been hurt, or even killed.

Finally, let’s not forget, mobile phone cameras and the increasing proliferation of dash cams mean you’re more and more unlikely to get away with bad behaviour. If the police don’t catch you, the Canberra driving community will be only too pleased to name and shame you on the internet.

How can it possibly be worth it?

Over to you – what’s the worst example of road rage you’ve seen or experienced? And if you’re feeling brave – have you ever been guilty of overreacting and regretting it later?


What's Your Opinion?


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27 Responses to What’s your worst Canberra road rage experience?
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tim_c 11:26 am 17 Jul 17

My most recent incident was some cranky woman who got very angry at me for flashing my hi-beams at her because she was driving at around 6:00pm without any lights on. Rather than admitting how inattentive she was, she tried to justify it by saying “I don’t do it very often” (as if she’d even know – she only knew she did it that night because I stopped to tell her).

She then proceeded to complain that she couldn’t see now that she’d stared into my illuminated hi-beams (I was a little puzzled by her concern – she’d already driven most of the way home without needing to see where she was going).

Of course she was one of those clueless Mazda 3 drivers/owners. She looked like a reasonably respectable person, but I realised she was from a very low level of class when she opened her mouth and vented a load of the most filthy language I’ve ever heard (I’ve usually found the one in the wrong is the first to get unreasonably irate).

rhino 5:05 pm 07 Jul 17

I believe the best approach should be to give people the benefit of the doubt. If someone overtakes you and cuts you off, maybe they have an emergency to get to. You giving them the finger, honking the horn and flashing your lights, isn’t going to help anything. Maybe they just heard that they have cancer. Who knows, but you can’t improve the situation by going on the offensive.
If someone narrowly missed having an accident, obviously use the horn and let them know. Especially if they genuinely seemed to not notice, which is a big problem if they’re oblivious to all the accidents they’re almost causing around them.
If you’re trying to get someone to move out of the way, using the high beams is a bit aggressive really.
If you see someone speeding, it’s not your job to try to teach them a lesson either. As I said, you don’t know their story, so if it upsets you, just give them the benefit of the doubt that they have their reasons and don’t worry about it.
If someone lets you in, give them a wave. Positive vibes spread and benefit everyone. Negative angry vibes spread and make the roads less safe in my view. Let people in when you can too. Unless they knowingly drove to the end of a closed lane and expect to push in and skip ahead rather than merge smoothly like a normal person. Screw those guys haha.

Ghettosmurf87 1:16 pm 30 Jun 17

robert_1 said :

I get road rage quite often, generally because I’m always wanting to go the speed limit or a little faster and there is always a jerk in front of me going 10 under. A good example is this morning coming down the hill on hindmarsh drive I was stuck behind this driver and when we finally got to the lights to turn right near the hospital the turning arrow just turned orange and then I was stuck for even longer behind this guy waiting for the cycle to change again. Yes its frustrating having to share the road with useless losers but that’s life and you just have to suck it up.

And here we have a prime example of the type of aggressive drivers that cause accidents on the road. Why in the world do people get so wound up over a 10km/h speed difference that might add 2-3min to a 20min commute? And missing a set of lights that also probably adds 2min?

It’s rather worrying that people are so willing to rant, rave and rage while control a 1-2tonne vehicle being driven at speed. Do all these people also audit their time allocated to a task so assiduously through all other aspects of their life? From my experience, the answer is almost certainly no. I wonder if they are so considerate themselves about how their actions affect the timeliness of others seeking to go about their life? Once again, I have not seen much evidence that the people who rage are the people who go out of their way to make other people’s lives easier…

joker12 7:39 am 30 Jun 17

I never experienced road rage until I moved to Canberra, although I can’t say the behaviour of the people you mentioned is anything close to my frustrations, wow.
I’m originally from a regional city, but got my license in a major city. Canberra is definitely a country town when it comes to driving. People drive under the limit, they are way too cautious to merge lanes, they don’t indicate… It drives me mental. Please be more considerate to other drivers.
Alternatively, I have been pleasantly surprised by cyclists. In my old city they were the bane of my life, they are very considerate and responsible here.

LocalUser 12:32 am 30 Jun 17

JC said :

bigred said :

Must say I haven’t really experienced anything serious for a while, but I suspect there will be a day very soon that a tailgater in the Cotter Road road works zone experiences some wrath. It is amazing that they feel it is Ok to drive close and in a threatening way just because the driver of the car in front respects the road workers’ right to a safe work place.

Same issue on Horse Park Drive too near Moncreif. The 24×7 40km/h limit is probably the silliest roadworks speed zone I’ve seen anywhere, ever but at end of the day it is the posted speed limit. The number of people (old young male/female) that get agitated because I make an effort to go 40 really gives me the irrits.

24×7 40km/h along Athalon Drive in South Canberra at the moment due to massive road works – road rage along that stretch every morning and afternoon…..

robert_1 7:26 pm 29 Jun 17

I get road rage quite often, generally because I’m always wanting to go the speed limit or a little faster and there is always a jerk in front of me going 10 under. A good example is this morning coming down the hill on hindmarsh drive I was stuck behind this driver and when we finally got to the lights to turn right near the hospital the turning arrow just turned orange and then I was stuck for even longer behind this guy waiting for the cycle to change again. Yes its frustrating having to share the road with useless losers but that’s life and you just have to suck it up.

tim_c 5:36 pm 29 Jun 17

Spiral said :

The Cotter roadwork area has a lovely temporary speed camera that tells you how fast you are going and either approves or disapproves.

Last week I saw a driving school car without a student speed through there (iirc about 70 in the 40 zone)…..

I wouldn’t put too much on the numbers displayed on those signs – I went through there the other day at about 20km/h (stuck in the merging afternoon traffic) and the sign displayed 70km/h and told us all to slow down. Other times I’ve gone past it at about 50km/h (signposted limit was 60km/h at the time) and it displayed 25km/h.

There’s also one near the back of the airport – the roadworks are signposted 60km/h and the LED sign tells me I’m going 57km/h before telling me to “SLOW DOWN”. Go figure!

I knew someone who worked for a council in Vic and he was trialling one of those signs – he got his wife to drive past at various speeds and he reported similar results – you’d be lucky if the displayed speed is within 30km/h of your actual speed.

JC 3:07 pm 28 Jun 17

Not road rage, but this morning experienced a common thing of late that drives me nuts.

Was going down the Barton Highway past Curran Drive at Nicholls. I was at the back end of a row of cars, absolutely nothing behind me. A car turned out of Curran drive, threw their indicator on and just expected me to part the way for them, which I didn’t and copped a blast of the horn from them.

To who ever that was, and others like them, you in the turning lane need to cross a broken line to get into the main lane, that means you need to give way to me. It is not a zipper merge where who ever is in front has right of way. IF traffic is heavy, I will attempt to make a gap for you to safely merge into, and if I can I might even change to the right hand lane so you can get into the left. But if I don’t, like today that means you need to give way and pull in BEHIND me, like you did. No need for the horn. And today there was a car on my right so I couldn’t move and as there was nothing behind me I wasn’t going to slow to make a gap for you.

devils_advocate 10:56 am 28 Jun 17

I was once guilty of a road rage incident.
This guy in a white volkswagon jetta challenged me to a drag race, on the agreement that the winner to get the ownership papers to the loser’s car.
I wasn’t particularly worried because I was running an s2000 at the time, with more than $100,000 under the bonnet.
In fairness the guy wasn’t the worst driver in the world but got onto the no2 way too quickly and I ended up beating him fairly easily.
Up until that point all was fine however after the race, instead of handing over the pinks after the race he just drove off without so much as an explanation.
Luckily he was an associate of a local group of private contractors so he wasn’t hard to track down.

wildturkeycanoe 7:25 am 28 Jun 17

My last road rage incident was on Lady Denman Drive over 10 years ago, when I got stuck doing 25km/h in a 70 zone day after day for a whole week going to work. The drongos blocking the road made no attempt to let the queue of traffic backing up behind them pass, but continued to go slowly the entire trip. With vehicles constantly coming the other way there was no possibility to overtake. I lost it in a fit by day four and made an overtake at the first opportunity of a gap appearing. Totally flustered by this repeated inconsiderate behaviour, I released my pent up frustrations by hitting the anchors. For the next couple of kilometres I let my aggression run wild and drove a nice, peaceful 15km/h, slowing these morons down to give them a taste of their own medicine.
Of course it changed nothing and they continued to impede traffic week after week, month after month. They never tried using a different route or the cycle path that was running parallel to the road. I did feel satisfied with my rage attempt, but decided to use a different route after that as I knew they would never learn.
Why is it necessary for organised cycling events to have warning signs and escort vehicles, but when the same people do it in an urban environment regularly, in the dark and in foggy conditions it’s totally okay to risk their lives without any safety systems in place? I just don’t get it.
From Pedal Power’s own site regarding social cycling events “Advise the road rules: obey the traffic rules, keep left, stop at red lights and stop signs, use cycle lanes when they exist, take care in traffic.” So why do the lycra brigade ignore these recommendations?

Queanbeyanite 10:57 pm 27 Jun 17

Mines pretty tame, but I don’t drive much over there, I always get lost around Wanniassa.

A Canberra born local (his Grandmother born in Queanbeyan) and I were heading out of town on a friday afternoon, negotiating bumper to bumper traffic on Mouat Street. As I crept up to the Goodwin Street intersection, unlike those before me, I slowed so as not to block the T intersection. I flashed my lights to signal the lead car in Goodwin to pull out into Mouat, as you do, at least that’s what we do in Queanbeyan. He was a bit surprised and I got a wave.

Quick as a flash my Canberra mate whipped his arm across and and blasted him with my horn!

I said “what did you do that for?”

“The bastard’s cuttin’ in!”

“But I, flashed my lights to let him in…”

“Watcha do that for; they’re rat runnin’, they’re rat runnin’, look at ’em”

Fortunately the poor bloke ahead didn’t escalate the issue, and I survived to drive courteously in Canberra for another day.

JC 6:55 pm 27 Jun 17

dungfungus said :

I have found that encounters with road-ragers are best handled by blowing them a big kiss rather than giving them the bird.

If you are referring to my post, the only where I can see giving the bird being mention, I was the receiving not the giving end.

Spiral 1:28 pm 27 Jun 17

The Cotter roadwork area has a lovely temporary speed camera that tells you how fast you aregoing and either approves or disapproves.

Last week I saw a driving school car without a student speed through there (iirc about 70 in the 40 zone).

The next day I saw the same vehicle indicate left before reaching a round-about in Coombs that it went straight through, and it continued indicating left until it had exited the round-about.

That is one driving school I will cross off my list.

dungfungus 10:19 am 27 Jun 17

I have found that encounters with road-ragers are best handled by blowing them a big kiss rather than giving them the bird.

JC 10:15 am 27 Jun 17

bigred said :

Must say I haven’t really experienced anything serious for a while, but I suspect there will be a day very soon that a tailgater in the Cotter Road road works zone experiences some wrath. It is amazing that they feel it is Ok to drive close and in a threatening way just because the driver of the car in front respects the road workers’ right to a safe work place.

Same issue on Horse Park Drive too near Moncreif. The 24×7 40km/h limit is probably the silliest roadworks speed zone I’ve seen anywhere, ever but at end of the day it is the posted speed limit. The number of people (old young male/female) that get agitated because I make an effort to go 40 really gives me the irrits.

bigred 6:19 am 27 Jun 17

Must say I haven’t really experienced anything serious for a while, but I suspect there will be a day very soon that a tailgater in the Cotter Road road works zone experiences some wrath. It is amazing that they feel it is Ok to drive close and in a threatening way just because the driver of the car in front respects the road workers’ right to a safe work place.

JC 3:38 pm 26 Jun 17

Maya123 said :

JC said :

20 years ago had a bit of an issue with a guy in Belconnen. He was in the right hand lane of William Hovell Drive approaching the Drake Brockman roundabout and was sitting more or less besides me and wanted to get into the left hand lane (I presume he wanted to turn). I was in no position to pull back and let him in, as it was time to slow down for the roundabout anyway and I had a car up my clacker so couldn’t brake hard. He was tooting and waving his hands furiously. I turned left myself and went to Kippax shopping centre.

Then as I was leaving here he was sitting in his car waiting for me and then when he sees me get into my car comes over for a chat. I told him to piss off and started to drive home, only to find him following me, so instead I turned onto Southern Cross drive and drove to the police station instead where I reported him. The silly bugger followed me all the way too, but cleared off when I stopped out front.

And maybe not road rage of that nature the other day in Belconnen took off from lights on Cameron Ave heading onto Chan Street. 4WD was in right hand lane took off slower than me but then accelerated harder and past me towards the merge on the other side of Benjamin Way. I backed off to let him go first but he veered across the centre line almost hitting me, so gave a toot to say I am here, only to be met with a brake check and the bird after the merge. Seriously WFT?

Was the 4WD black? I tend to find aggressive creeps mostly drive black ones.

It was actually. And then when he got to Lathlain Street he turned left then more or less straight away did a u turn to park outside of Goodberries (or what ever the place is called these days).

Garfield 1:00 pm 26 Jun 17

Maybe 6 years ago I was heading west on Parkes Way towards the City in almost peak hour traffic. I was in the right hand lane moving slightly faster than the left hand lane and leaving a safe gap between myself and the car in front. A shiny red Holden sedan zoomed up behind me well over the speed limit. It was sitting only a few metres behind me. There was nowhere for me to go as there was a car to my left, but this youngish male driver wanted me out of his way. I’d been rear ended before by someone less aggressive than this and tapped on the brakes just hard enough so that they lit up to let him know he was too close. That sent him into a mad frenzy, which probably wasn’t helped that a little further down the track I had to brake slightly to maintain the safe distance from the car in front of me. When we reached a small gap in the left lane, he pulled into it before I had a chance to. I wanted to ensure there was a safe gap between me and the car that would have been behind me in the left lane. He didn’t overtake but stayed alongside me, rolled down his window and yelled abuse at me, which I ignored. Then he threw a part eaten sandwich and after I ignored that I think he scooped up coins from his centre console and threw them at my car, leaving half a dozen scratches. He kept driving on and by the time we reached the Glenloch Interchange he must have been all of 5 seconds in front. Reported it to police and they said next time to call 000 from the car regardless of phone laws.

Maya123 12:48 pm 26 Jun 17

JC said :

20 years ago had a bit of an issue with a guy in Belconnen. He was in the right hand lane of William Hovell Drive approaching the Drake Brockman roundabout and was sitting more or less besides me and wanted to get into the left hand lane (I presume he wanted to turn). I was in no position to pull back and let him in, as it was time to slow down for the roundabout anyway and I had a car up my clacker so couldn’t brake hard. He was tooting and waving his hands furiously. I turned left myself and went to Kippax shopping centre.

Then as I was leaving here he was sitting in his car waiting for me and then when he sees me get into my car comes over for a chat. I told him to piss off and started to drive home, only to find him following me, so instead I turned onto Southern Cross drive and drove to the police station instead where I reported him. The silly bugger followed me all the way too, but cleared off when I stopped out front.

And maybe not road rage of that nature the other day in Belconnen took off from lights on Cameron Ave heading onto Chan Street. 4WD was in right hand lane took off slower than me but then accelerated harder and past me towards the merge on the other side of Benjamin Way. I backed off to let him go first but he veered across the centre line almost hitting me, so gave a toot to say I am here, only to be met with a brake check and the bird after the merge. Seriously WFT?

Was the 4WD black? I tend to find aggressive creeps mostly drive black ones.

JC 9:40 pm 25 Jun 17

20 years ago had a bit of an issue with a guy in Belconnen. He was in the right hand lane of William Hovell Drive approaching the Drake Brockman roundabout and was sitting more or less besides me and wanted to get into the left hand lane (I presume he wanted to turn). I was in no position to pull back and let him in, as it was time to slow down for the roundabout anyway and I had a car up my clacker so couldn’t brake hard. He was tooting and waving his hands furiously. I turned left myself and went to Kippax shopping centre.

Then as I was leaving here he was sitting in his car waiting for me and then when he sees me get into my car comes over for a chat. I told him to piss off and started to drive home, only to find him following me, so instead I turned onto Southern Cross drive and drove to the police station instead where I reported him. The silly bugger followed me all the way too, but cleared off when I stopped out front.

And maybe not road rage of that nature the other day in Belconnen took off from lights on Cameron Ave heading onto Chan Street. 4WD was in right hand lane took off slower than me but then accelerated harder and past me towards the merge on the other side of Benjamin Way. I backed off to let him go first but he veered across the centre line almost hitting me, so gave a toot to say I am here, only to be met with a brake check and the bird after the merge. Seriously WFT?

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