Road rage creates complications for student drivers

Jacob Fulton | Staff Writer

Careless driving is driving students up the wall.

While on the roads, many students face frustration with those around them. Whether the road rage is directed at them, or they are the ones expressing anger, the irritation can have nasty consequences.

Junior Tyler Murrin said that teenagers tend to be hasty when driving.

“Student drivers always feel a need to get where they’re going, as fast as they can,” Murrin said. “They stop for no one. High schoolers’ driving is impulsive and lacks communication, which can be dangerous to themselves and the people around them.”

Senior Reilly Bogan said that this impulsiveness goes against what students may expect of themselves as drivers.

“We’ve gone to classes more recently than the older drivers on the road, so some people would think we would be able to understand and remember the rules better,” Bogan said. “But older people have had more practice; we just don’t seem to care because we’re overconfident.”

Bogan said that this often results in many instances of road rage.

“When I get frustrated while driving, I’m quick to express it – and that happens very often,” Bogan said. “Usually there’s some foul language and honking, especially when people cut me off or drive too slow. And sometimes, when I’m driving really fast and the car in front of me hits on the brakes, I throw my hand up through the roof of my car – for some reason, I feel like it helps me stop faster. But that’s gotten me in some trouble before. I (also) flip people off fairly often. I stick my hand out the window, and drive away pretty fast so I don’t see what their response is.”

Bogan said that these actions can help minimize her anger while in the car.

“It’s really therapeutic to get my rage out like that,” Bogan said. “I may get really irritated when I’m driving, but that’s a way to get it out. It may not be the most pleasant thing ever, or the safest, but letting people know I’m mad at them helps me calm down. It also kind of makes me feel superior to them, even though I’m too scared to watch their reactions.”

Murrin said that he could recall specific occasions of frustration, both expressed by him and directed at him.

“One night, I was coming home from work, and there was a car behind me,” Murrin said. “I was driving a little over the speed limit, but they decided for some reason that I wasn’t going fast enough for them. They put on their high beams and started to tailgate me – they got as close as they could. At this point I wasn’t happy with them at all. They were stuck behind me anyway and were being rude about it, so I decided to slow down to the point where I was only going 25 (miles per hour), and they just had to keep going at that speed behind me.”

Bogan said that these altercations can easily escalate beyond staying in cars.

“In my neighborhood, there was this one lady that needed to stop at a stop sign, but she didn’t,” Bogan said. “So I stopped, because I didn’t want to get in an accident, and I got really angry because I had the right of way. She saw me, and it got to the point where she got out of her car and came over to my window. I was really ticked, and she started yelling at me because she didn’t think I had any reason to be mad, even though she almost hit me (with her car). She even threatened to talk to my mother – and she doesn’t even know who I am or where I live in the neighborhood.”

Algebra II teacher Nicole Paxton said that she feels many people don’t understand the issues road rage can cause.

“When you’re operating a vehicle, that has to be the first priority,” Paxton said. “Any time you don’t have control over something, it can cause frustration, and some people can control that emotion better than others. But you have to have perspective.  Does it really matter if (they’re) driving 10 miles (slower than you)? The consequences are too great to take that risk (and show your anger).”

Paxton said that even though she doesn’t find it wise to express her irritation, there are some situations that still cause her to do so.

“While I’m driving, (I control my anger),” Paxton said. “But parking is another issue.  I often find myself enraged by people that park in handicap parking that aren’t allowed to. During the time that I needed to pick up my youngest daughter from dance, the parking lot is packed, and there are only two handicap parking spots. My daughter needs her wheelchair to walk in with me, so I needed those spots for proximity and safety.  I saw one of the men leaving his car, on his cell phone, so I stopped my car, rolled down the window, and asked him to move.  He motioned his index finger, as if to say ‘hold on’.  Let’s just say I didn’t (wait).  He moved.”

Bogan said that though angry drivers take their annoyance out on the other people involved, they aren’t blameless.

“I obviously want to blame it on (other people), but it’s definitely somewhat my fault too,” Bogan said. “I may complain that they’re driving too slow, but in reality, I’m also driving too fast. I really have to take some of the blame for not doing what I’m supposed to. And sometimes, when I’m having a bad day already, they may not be doing anything wrong but I take out my anger on them. It may make me feel better, but it can have consequences.”