Stress Overload-Road Rage
Trucking equals hours of boredom interspersed with moments of sheer terror or anger. It happens to all of us at one time or another, some of us shrug it off, and some of us accumulate stress to the point of road rage incidences. Road rage varies from a driver swearing at every car that passes them to actual acts of violence with either the vehicle or weapons used to kill someone. Several years ago, two truckers went after each other on the shoulder of the road, one died. Other stories abound about road rage causing death and damage.
Stress overload caused road rage can carry over into all aspects of a driver’s life both personal and professional. A driver who is experiencing road rage on the road does not just shut the anger off when they get to the truck stop or warehouse. Let a clerk make the driver wait in line or another driver beat them to a parking spot and many times, the fight or argument will be on. The driver having serious road rage can go home and take the anger out on family members.
It seems that some days are just full of stressors to a driver. The driver is caught in rush hour to start with due to hours of service limits. Two and a half hours inching forward to make fifteen miles can get on anyone’s nerves. Add to that during the backup, cars are trying to get ahead by passing too closely on the shoulder or cutting the driver off; then at the end of the backup, the driver sees that it was for nothing other than two highway workers standing talking on the shoulder. Road rage starting, you bet!
When the driver gets to their destination, a receiver, the receiver says the driver was late and will have to be worked in. While the driver waits, dispatch is calling wanting to know what the holdup is, there is another load waiting to be loaded. The driver, who by now is at least distracted, has to blind side into a dock while another driver crowds in trying to get past. Finally unloaded, the driver has to maneuver around cars leaving for the day to leave the facility. Stress starting to overload.
Loading the next load, the forklift breaks down and the loader is having a bad day, he yells at the driver. By the time the driver is done loading, it is nighttime rush hour. While in it, the driver’s partner calls and says one of the kids is hurt, the driver is 2000 miles from home. The driver is ripe to exhibit full-blown road rage and becomes a threat to others.
Actions done by drivers who are in road rage mode are many. Tailgating or pushing another vehicle up the road by following too closely, blowing the horn, flashing headlights to try to get someone else to move faster or over, finger gestures, screaming out the window and crowding the white line trying to intimidate others are just a few symptoms to watch for both in yourself and others.
If it is you exhibiting these symptoms, it is time for a break driver to get your head on straight. Find a safe place to park, do anything to make yourself expend safely the accumulated stress, take a walk around the truck and thump your tires, throw rocks at trees, sit and pray or call a friend to vent. Only continue on when you are calmer.
If someone else is exhibiting road rage towards you, do not allow yourself to react in kind. Do what you can to mitigate the situation. For instance, if you are passing someone and doing it slowly causing people to wait, then either speed up or slow down and allow traffic to pass and do not react when they flip you off as they pass.
Someone telling you that you are number one or making other gestures towards you might be annoying, but consider the source and drive on, but keep an eye on that vehicle. If someone crosses the centerline to try to hit your vehicle, waves a weapon at you or does something else that is dangerous or you feel threatened, do not hesitate to dial 911 and report them. Road rage violence has become such an issue that law enforcement will usually respond. Whatever you do, never hit the shoulder or stop where they do to confront another person. One never knows what type of weapon they may have.
If someone has acted out against you, even with just gestures and then follows you off the ramp or into a business, be on guard. Keep your doors locked and your windows up, do not leave your vehicle until you are sure it is just coincidental that they are going where you are. If they do approach your vehicle, call 911 immediately; do not engage in conversation with them.
The best medicine for road rage is not to allow it to affect you in the first place. Find some way to deal with whatever stressors start road rage. I use humor. When another vehicle’s driver does something stupid, I think that they are actually disabled folk; they so wish that they could do what I do but cannot that they do stupid things trying to feel adequate. Sounds silly, but it works for me, something else might work for you.
Road rage is only going to become a bigger problem as traffic increases as it has over the last couple of decades and the economy depresses more people. The more vehicles on the road, the more apt drivers will exhibit road rage. Your life or someone else’s is not worth it at all.