Let’s get along on the road

Paul W. Smith

What happens to people when they get behind the wheel of their car, SUV or truck?

It seems even the most mild mannered, gentile, civilized person can sometimes, somehow, take on the personality of an out of control, mean spirited bully.

You know very well what I’m talking about; in its mildest form you realize that moment when you have flicked your turn signal on to indicate your desire (or need) to change lanes, that the turn signal apparently is a signal to that person in the other lane to inexplicably speed up to make it impossible for you to get over and into that other lane. All of a sudden it appears you have found there is some kind of race or competition you had no idea you were involved in.

It gets worse. Apparently, lately, much worse.

According to a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study just released, nearly 80 percent (more than I would have guessed) drivers have expressed significant anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year. Incredibly, the findings suggest approximately eight million U.S. drivers have engaged in extreme road rage, including purposefully ramming another vehicle or getting out of the car to actually confront another driver.

Certainly that kind of behavior is (thankfully) not happening with the degree of regularity that good old-fashioned honking is, but even that has taken on a greater degree of annoyance and anger and is happening more than ever. Add to that yelling at another driver, tailgating, blocking someone from making a lane change, and the age old bad idea of making “angry gestures” appears to be out of control.

Can’t we all just get along?

Paul W. Smith is host of “The Paul W. Smith Show” on WJR-AM (760) from 5:30-9 a.m. Monday-Friday.