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What’s your worst Canberra road rage experience?

By 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.

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