Road Rage has resulted in lives lost and prison sentences gained. This past summer has seen a few cases of road rage—from retaliating against a motorcyclist who rants about using your cell phone while driving, to a young woman chasing and killing a Navy Officer. If the road doesn’t send you into a rage, then the online comments on these stories will. But despite everyone's mixed opinions, there is some possibly good to be had from all this bad. So, what can we learn from the mistakes of others?
My former boss David Kennedy once told me a story about road rage that has unconsciously altered my response to bad drivers, on more than one occasion.
David is a car guy with no interest in motorcycles—a man who has never even ridden a motorcycle, ever. But despite his disdain for motorcycles, I still respect him and consider him a close friend.
Read post for above video here.
The story begins with David driving in the fast lane on a LA freeway on a typical morning commute. Traveling in a lifted late-model truck, he was sipping on his coffee as a motorcyclist slammed his driver’s side mirror as he passed. Having no clue to what caused this blunt action, David's emotions flared and he became instantly glossed over with rage. As the bike disappeared, splitting lanes through traffic ahead, David remained angry as hell. Later, David caught up to the motorcyclist in traffic.
Immediately recognizing the truck whose mirror he had just smacked, the biker jumped off his seat and glared through his helmet with a Deadpool-like expression. It's what David decided to do next that left an indelible impression on me.
As his truck drew closer to the motorcyclist, David knew this was his opportunity to extinguish his anger; to accomplish revenge on the asshole who just took out his mirror. With his window down, he pulled along side the motorcycle, drew in a deep breath, leaned over and screamed:
“I don’t know what I did to you, but I’m sorry!”
Maybe David did nothing wrong and the biker was a plain and simple asshole. Maybe, he deserved a beating. Maybe, the biker deserved a lot, but did he deserve to have David put his life at risk? No.
It's possible that it was David's fault. Maybe his coffee distracted him from his accidental lane change, or maybe he swerved and blocked the rider's path. But to David, it wasn't important to pass blame. What was important was distinguishing the conflict early.
David couldn't care less about motorcycles or the people who ride them, but he doesn’t need to respect motorcyclists to respect life. He’s no murderer and doesn’t want to be, but unfortunately not everyone understands that.
Photo courtesy of Popular Military
Navy Officer Zach Buob
Take the story of Darla Renee Jackson, who chased down a motorcyclist after he kicked the side of her car for blocking his path. Now, do I think this 26-year-old woman is a murderer who left her house that morning with a desire to kill? No. But she didn’t pay attention to the difference between manslaughter and murder. She didn’t realize that she was essentially driving a weapon and didn't understand the severity of her actions. She let her rage overcome her until she took a Navy Officer’s life.
She now knows what her actions have caused as she’s facing a possible lengthy prison sentence. It’s a painful story to watch unfold, especially hearing things like her mother say, “I told her, ‘Don’t worry, it’ll be okay, it was an accident. He was the one acting crazy and driving erratically.'”
The thought process of it being someone else's fault so they deserve whatever happens to them is insane. A kick does not deserve to be chased down and killed.