Tuesday, October 26

Deconstructing Road Rage: Part 1

I've read articles and passages in books that address road rage and the underlying reasons behind our aggressive roadside manner. I do agree that when we are made to feel impotent behind the wheel we lash out at the obstacles within our path. I think that is a valid deduction. However, I also feel that there is a much more subtle thing going on than just reacting to an affront on our manhood (or womanhood).

The animal part of our brains is deeply uncomfortable with the prospect of piloting large complex machines at a high rate of speed along side many other large complex machines also moving at a high rate of speed. Our nervous systems go on high alert, even when we are inattentive and we become territorial, defensive and aggressive all at the same time. Despite our relative experience in motor vehicles that our instincts are truly aligned NOT to drive vehicles at high rates of speed.

When we are confronted with obstacles in our path, impediments to forward momentum and threats to our safety upon the road we become angry, we become subconsciously defensive and we lash out to protect ourselves in a situation we never truly felt safe in to begin with.

It is normal in our world to put unqualified people in control of machines that are far more dangerous than we allow ourselves to believe they are. It is too easy to get a drivers license and even easier to modify our behavior once behind the wheel to suit our own habits, wants and whims. Who says I can't talk on my cell phone, eat, put on makeup, curl my hair or read a newspaper while driving? Who says my eyes always have to be on the road? Who says I can't stop quickly if I need to?

When confronted with their inherent shortcomings as a driver almost everyone becomes defensive, but the truth is NONE of us are the drivers we think we are. Movie make it seem as if anyone can get behind the wheel and start doing the Tokyo Drift.

Sorry, it just ain't so.

So when the roadway, the environment or the currents of traffic force us to slow down, take stock of what we're doing we start to see the whole shebang with more clarity and I think it frightens us. I think we want to stay in our complacent mindset, happily, obliviously gunning down the road thinking we really can control the metal beast under our widening backsides. We don't really like to think about how inadequate we truly are behind the wheel.

My gas pedal will never stick. I'll never have a blowout at 75 mph. Deer don't jump out in front of me. If only those $#@%&! cyclists would get of the road, everything would be just fine!

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