Touring Tip: Avoid Becoming a Road Rage Victim

Nov 06, 2015 View Comments by

Touring Tip: Avoid Becoming a Road Rage VictimStay Safe Out There –

By now most of you likely have seen on social media or in news reports the road rage incident in Texas where a driver, apparently intentionally, swerves into a motorcycle passing him on a double yellow centerline. The passenger on the motorcycle received serious injuries and the driver of the car, on a video filmed by another rider, when asked why he did it, said, “I don’t care.” Fortunately, this incident didn’t result in a rider fatality, but plenty of other road rage incidents, usually involving cars, have, including a recent one where a four-year-old child was shot and killed.

There is something in the psyche of some car drivers, which demonstrates disregard for people operating vehicles smaller than theirs and can trigger a road rage response to a perceived slight from another motorist. Psychologists can probably analyze the causes of this ad nauseum, but those of us who ride regularly in traffic see reckless behavior far too often.

At the risk of pointing out the painfully obvious, motorcyclists, even those wearing full protective gear, are no match for a 4,000-pound or heavier vehicle. As riders, we have to choke-down our emotions and not do something, like delivering a certain hand gesture or yelling profanity, which may trigger road rage behavior.

I believe it is appropriate, if the opportunity safely presents itself, to respectfully let an offending driver know when their actions have put the rider in danger. Most drivers will respond positively to this and perhaps be more vigilant in the future. Absent that opportunity and driver response, though, it’s best to just let it go and live to ride another day.

In the Texas incident, however, it was the overt act of the motorcyclist passing the driver on a double yellow centerline, which, apparently, triggered the road rage. At some time or another, probably most, if not all, of us have been stuck behind a slow vehicle and been tempted to pass, or have passed, on the double yellow. The superior power-to-weight ratio of a motorcycle, compared to other vehicles, often means that there may be more room for the motorcyclist to safely pass others than the yellow no passing lines are calibrated for.

Other forms of perceived, or real, aggressive riding by motorcyclists also may trigger an unexpected, life-threatening road rage response from a seemingly normal and sane driver. Even if these “ticking-time bomb” drivers are a small percentage of the total driving public, they are virtually impossible to identify in advance from the seat of a motorcycle. Riders must be fully aware of the additional risk they are assuming when engaging in behaviors that might trigger a road rage response. This is just something to keep in mind as you share the road with much larger vehicles.


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