Bob Denny: Look out for road rage

Published: Monday, June 9, 2014 at 3:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, June 9, 2014 at 3:32 p.m.

It's summer, and there's lots of cars on the road. I drove peacefully in the middle of the night, returning from an out-of-state vacation. I recognized my off ramp, checked my mirrors, set my turn signal and pulled safely onto the off ramp. But a large truck pulled up close to my bumper and hit his air horn

I continued at a reasonable speed around the bend. He roared past me and charged into my lane aggressively. Luckily I was alert, hit my brakes hard and gave him as much room as I could. I don't know if he thought I had done something wrong, or whether he was strung out on drugs to stay awake. I felt lucky to be alive!

Recently after a long stretch of highway, the traffic came to a stop at a red light. Right away two angry men hopped out of their cars and started hitting each other! Do you watch “What would you do?”

A young man and his lady friend were harassed by another driver. Filming the entire episode, they pursued the offender, who drove aggressively around them. They both pulled over and stopped in a parking lot, and the woman in the other car came at them yelling, reached into their car, and began hitting the female passenger!

Yes, it's “road rage.” It seems to get worse each year. The experts tell us that road rage is the result of frustration, impatience, and anger. A driver may have an attitude or mood which has built up because of fatigue, frustration, impatience, and irritation.

In this state of mind, minor incidents can trigger an overreaction. Judgment is impaired, and a driver may interpret the actions of other drivers as a threat, challenge, or an insult. Upset drivers' emotions escalate out of control, causing the situation to become dangerous or even deadly!

You might find yourself in a situation like that! If you're driving, the way you react could cause the situation to become a crisis, and the results could be disastrous! How can you keep from being sucked into a road rage confrontation? Here are some suggestions from the law enforcement field and the mental health field:

Be alert for a possible road rage situation early. Notice any signs of aggressive driving around you.

If you notice a situation, take a moment to think! Realize that you have the power to control your own thoughts and behaviors, and make responsible choices! Remember that the way you think about a situation, and the way you respond to it, influence how it plays out. You can choose how you think, or your attitude. You can choose how you want to respond, rather than reacting impulsively. The way you think and the way you act cause the way you feel!

Choose to be calm, patient, cooperative, and courteous, and drive that way!

If you're not a part of the solution, you're part of the problem. It takes two to make a fight! Don't play their game. Someone is sure to lose. Don't tease, antagonize, or do anything to block their way or make this a contest. Avoid eye contact. Let someone else make that mistake!

Slow down. Drive peacefully. Choose a slow lane and stay there. Don't be in a hurry. Go with the flow. Let them find someone else to joust with!

Choose to be the good guy, the good citizen. Be happy with how you've handled the situation, and with who you are. Do the right thing. Your feelings and courtesy are contagious. The world will be a little better because you're here!

Bob Denny counseled troubled youth and families in Florida for 15 years, and taught psychology at Florida Gateway College for 10 years. His book "Happiness is looking for you!" is available on Please address your comments and ideas to

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