A couple of month in the past, I used to be driving behind an enormous truck on a significant east-west thoroughfare in south Denver. As a result of I don’t like being unable to see across the car in entrance of me, I flicked on my blinker and eased into the precise lane. Nearly instantly after I settled in my new lane, the truck shifted over, as soon as once more in entrance of me, blocking my view. I parried with my blinker, checked each rearview and driver-side mirrors, and moved again to the left lane once more.
By way of driving etiquette, it was a superbly secure transfer. It was additionally authorized, and so I didn’t assume something of it, till I noticed a big pickup truck bearing down on me. He obtained proper up on my bumper and was banging his palms on his steering wheel and screaming like a baseball supervisor who was seeking to get ejected. We obtained to a pink mild, and he continued his histrionics. It will have been comical—the place was he moving into such a rush?! And would he have gotten there sooner if he’d simply been in entrance of me?! Would he not have gotten caught at this pink mild?!—had it not been so disconcerting.
In case you’ve been on the highway recently within the Mile Excessive Metropolis, you might have skilled one thing akin to this. You may need had somebody tailgate you whereas yelling at you. You might have had somebody pull up beside you, decelerate, and provide you with a nasty glare or the center finger. You might have been crossing the road as a pedestrian with a stroll signal, solely to have a automotive peel out after you’ve handed it, as if by some means, by legally crossing the road, you’d inconvenienced them. You might have been on I-70 or I-25 and seen automobiles racing and weaving out and in of site visitors, like they had been within the Quick & Livid. You might have been on the freeway and watched a automotive cross three or 4 lanes to get to an exit. I’ve seen all of this stuff in latest months.
A few of this will not come as a shock. Folks drove much less throughout the pandemic, and the roads had been usually blissfully freed from autos. So maybe a rise in site visitors mixed with individuals who have been principally remoted for greater than a 12 months is an affordable rationalization for a few of this habits, in accordance with Samuel Cole, site visitors security communications supervisor for the Colorado Division of Transportation (CDOT). Individuals are pissed off; individuals won’t have been behind the wheel a lot over the previous 16 months; and all the things—all the things—appears just a bit bit more durable than it was earlier than the pandemic.
However you could be shocked to be taught that Colorado had a highway rage drawback earlier than COVID-19. A Fox31/KDVR article from Might of this 12 months notes, “In response to information from the Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration, in 2018 Colorado ranked because the second deadliest state per capita for highway rage incidents.” The second deadliest state within the nation. That statistic ought to provide you with pause: It’s each scary and considerably confounding, particularly given the laid again nature of Colorado’s populace. As Cole places it, “It begs the query of total civility in our society. Is that one thing that’s going by the wayside?”
Cole tells the story of his colleague, Tamara Rollison, a CDOT communications supervisor, who not way back went for a hike within the mountains. The oldsters on the path had been pleasant and courteous, however when Rollison obtained in her automotive to go again residence, issues modified. Whereas driving on a winding, rocky, grime highway, Rollison was tailgated by a car. The motive force, a male, handed Rollison along with his window rolled down, and angrily yelled at her. He then sped off, solely to go one other automotive on the four-wheel-drive highway, which had steep embankments. Rollison’s time in Colorado’s wilderness couldn’t have been extra completely different from the expertise she had as soon as she obtained behind the wheel of her automotive.
She’s not alone. Certainly, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) will get roughly 80,000 calls associated to highway rage every year. Which means the query is when, not if, you’ll expertise somebody shedding it behind the wheel.
That spurred the CSP to produce a podcast episode this previous spring about highway rage wherein it recognized the three greatest methods to attempt to keep away from angering different motorists. The primary is to not drive within the left lane on the freeway; it’s legally a passing lane, so that you shouldn’t camp on the market driving 60 mph, lest you’ve got somebody pull up in your rear bumper and begin screaming obscenities at you. The second is to alternate automobiles when merging into the identical lane, which retains site visitors flowing and cuts down on highway rage. The third, in fact, is to not observe too near the automotive in entrance of you. Not solely is it extraordinarily harmful, nevertheless it additionally actually makes individuals very, very mad.
Cole says he spends quite a lot of time occupied with the way to cope with these irate drivers. He posts details about it on CDOT’s social media channels. He additionally places up reminders on the digital message boards you steadily see on Colorado highways, reminiscent of “Get reduce off—shake it off” and “Anger results in hazard—keep calm.”
These sentiments are shared by those that work at CSP. “We hope that [people experiencing road rage] can go be adults and diffuse their anger and frustration in a wholesome means,” says Sergeant Blake White of CSP, “like going and figuring out, listening to classical music, and respiration. However typically these adults don’t have that in them and so they let it out in unhealthy methods. Generally that manifests as highway rage. However, once more, does that matter [to you]? No. Let that individual proceed, and let it roll off your again. We are able to transfer previous this.”