Coping: With Road Rage

Reno, NV) – We have had the first patch of “dark cloud” on our trip around the country… a run-in with road rage.

The tale begins up in Susanville, CA – that’s where we departed about 1 PM Monday mto head down to Reno.

What was not clear – either from the online services or from the signs – was that there would be a half-hour wait about a third of the way to Reno because of road construction.  A pilot car was in use and the back-up, by the clock, cost us an honest half-hour.

I don’t know if you’ve spent much time idling in a car when it’s 97 outside and you have the A/C on, but it is somewhat frustrating.  There is nothing you can do, no reasonable alternate routes.  And apparently this kind of delay does set some people off…

After we finally got going, we drop for maybe 15-minutes when there was another delay:  The road was down to a single lane.

Since I was in the right lane, which was closing (complete with the orange barrels, I flipped on the turn blinker and checked the traffic.

The left lane ahead was slowing but I had room – the only traffic behind was a pick-up truck about 10-12 car lengths back.  I made my move, paying close attention to the now braking left lane traffic ahead./

Then I look in my mirror – and the pickup has obviously speeded way up and had to apply heavy braking to keep from rear-ending us.

That didn’t set well with the driver of the pickup – who in turn flipped into the closing (less than half lane by now) right lane and proceeded to aggressively try to force us off the road.l

I sized up the situation – and stomped on  the brakes.

Now the driver of the pickup stops completely, gets out of his truck and starts coming back towards us.

About here, he looked around and saw a cop car on the closed section of pavement just ahead…so he jumps in his truck…pulls up 300 feet, jumps out of the truck and stops again – getting out of his truck which stopped traffic – and goes overs to yell at the cop about my driving.

To the credit of the Nevada State Patrol, the office firmly instructed the pickup driver back into his car and on his way…and seeing this, I pulled over behind the NSP car to explain my side of the story.

With adrenaline now pumping like crazy and hyperventilating a bit, I explained what had happened to the office.  He was incredibly cool.

Yes, turns out they have a lot of road rage cases like this. “Hot day, construction back-up..we get too many of these…” he told me.

After chatting for a few minutes, we went on our way…only to have the big insulin hit show up and nearly pass out…so I pulled over and let Elaine drove.  I needed to chill for a while.

(I don’t do well when crazy people stop their trucks and come at my vehicle in a threatening manner… Perhaps it was a lesson from some aspect of Universe trying to teach me something:  Remember we had the discussion about whether we should travel armed or un-armed on the trip?)

All’s well that ends well.  We got to where we were going and that was that.  I took two baby aspirin, though:  Stressful events in elderly people (which we is, dammit) can set off ugly secondary things, so it doesn’t hurt to be proactive.

A couple of shots of liquid nerve restorer at our destination, some food, and10-hours of sleep –  back ready for anything.

Bottom lines for us is that no matter how safely and carefully we drive, there will always be someone who – when you have plenty of room to safely make a lane change – will speed up and try to cut you off – and if you persist in the change (as I did facing a closing lane) they will be pissed because they can quite literally, as the officer explain, jump over to aggressive behavior.

Now let’s suppose that instead of one driver, there had been a real reason for a whole bunch of people to be on the road at one time.  Something like a “dirty bomb” from a terrorist group, ort what have you.

In that kind of situation – where we were incredibly lucky to have an NSP officer right there – then before getting underway from a home location, yes, that might be a time when considering going armed would make sense.

Road rage is a mental health indicator of society at large.  And since the world is (as the Ecuador ExPat reminds us) going crazier, it should come as no surprise that people at “not playing nicely together” as we did once-upon-a-time when the country was more sane.

Insurance comp0anies are recognizing the problem, too.  Progressive Insurance, for example, has this page.

And worse?  Two stats from this source:  2% of all drivers admit to trying to run another vehicle off the road and 37% of road rage cases involve a fire arm.  Toss in 218 murders over a seven year study period and the case for a CHP *(concealed handgun permit) gets stronger.

Next trip we take?  It will be in the plane if we still have it.  Or, maybe we will just stay home.  Fly commercial?  Yuck.-

In the meantime, I’m still 50+ years since a teenage speeding ticket:  We simply set the cruise control 2-3 MPH over the posted speed and except for trucks, everything about half the traffic p[asses us…we pass the other half.

Nature Recovers

One other notable from out trip: 

Last time through this section of the country, we came through the Hat Creek fire just after it was put out.  This was back in 2014 and there’s YT video of it.

A couple of years later the brush in the fire area is already waist-high.  All making sure there is plenty of fuel for the next fire when it comes along.

Should we have the discussion about natural-source fires when talking about global warming?

Write when you get rich,


Coping: With Road Rage — 38 Comments

  1. ROAD RAGE! A very important topic indeed.Here is a technique I use for the classic ‘guy riding your ass scenario’
    1.DO NOT change speed up or down, DO NOT repeat DO NOT tap your brakes, in general calm down.
    2. Instead very carefully and deliberately reach up and grab your rear view mirror and turn it down. try to insure they see you do that. Then keep an eye on them in your side view mirrors.This has proven repeatedly to be a de-escalation technique for me. It works about 96% of the time.

    Here is what I believe is taking place:

    Most of the time people are following too close because they are distracted, not paying attention, possibly upset. When they see my hand go up and TUNE THEM OUT it makes them think “why?” and they usually answer it with “because i’m all over their ass”. in many cases I have had folks not only back off to a safe distance but double or triple that distance…an apology…which serves to restore a little faith in my fellow travelers.
    2% of the time they are so oblivious they do nothing and 2%… they get closer… I have just separated the wheat from the chaff. that last 2% I know I need to be careful with. i’ll put my cell phone up to my ear, drive to a safe spot, thumb the safety off, you get the idea.
    Red brake lights (think Bull & Red cape) can give an already upset person (part of my 96% group) an adrenaline shot and actually escalate the situation. By giving them a chance to think about and correct what they are doing it also gives them a chance to have their faith restored as well. August is road rage month in the Reno area for some reason so be careful out there.

  2. The area where you met the nitwitiot is seriously lacking in negative ions which negatively affects ones capability in thinking and behavior control. Same thing happens in lots of areas.

    Otherwise, I’ve known lots of folk who keep tar irurns between their seat and the car door–jest in case…with the long gun, kept somewhere, for the real defecation hitting the fan.

  3. I would say that a ‘warning shot’ across your bow has been fired…. how you handle this info for your next road trip, may be very important to you and yours. Since as you have just witnessed, when you leave your ranch there are still ‘varmints’, outside the state of Texas.

  4. Dear George: Hear this, and consider carefully. As a Gentleman and a Scholar, you are at a disadvantage in a “confrontation” while on the road. Why? Not because you are not “Tough Enough” to win a “Fight” but because as a fight might begin, your logical mind will think: “Oh Crap, if I kill this Moron, (you have no intent to kill him, you just want to knock him out), then I will end up getting sued and I may lose in court.”
    You know I am correct. This “instantaneous indecision” pattern of rational thought will get YOU KILLED!
    OK?? You made a correct, smart and wise decision to let the creep get away. You are Smart. Smart and wise will always win.
    What to do next?? I think you ought to get two pump action Shotguns, as short as legally possible in length. Take them on all road trips. Keep them in the Trunk, on top, where you can get your hands on them, if you ever really encounter circumstances where you can not retreat. Then, before you pop the trunk, and take the Shotgun in hand, you will have time to think. If there is no possible retreat, then just “fight to kill with all you Might” because I Insist that your wife, or other companions, deserve to be protected from all irrational animals. These animals have the advantage, because of their irrationality. You must train to defend as a last resort. BUT GET READY. THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG! ONLY SMART AND DUMB. So far, you have done well. Don’t press your luck, be ready for the next event. Defend you wife, and YOU stay alive! We need you.

    • GOOD COMMENTS! But, I’m reminded of an old John Wayne movie where he explained his success as a gunfighter: “…when facing down a gun, most people will hesitate – I WON’T – because it’ll get you killed.” And, he was right. Thugs win their fights because they attack WITHOUT considering the consequences, and while their opponents are still pondering their own actions. Governments call this a “pre-emptive strike” and although it’s rarely used, it’s ALWAYS a part of their scenarios because they know it WORKS.

    • Semi-auto shotguns. You can’t pump and drive at the same time.

      If you wind up killing some dumb-*** a court date is inevitable, maybe several because there’s just too many lawyers in the world today. But the bottom line always is the d.a. is making you choose between a court date or a funeral you can’t back out of. This is what the “just give them what they want and they’ll go away” people never have the ability to consider. Neither is a path an intelligent person wants to take but the decision making process is often out of your hands.

  5. I had a road rage experience. Was pulling my trailer and signaled to get into the approaching single lane. A young lad took offence and roared around me.
    Let me know I was number one in his book. Turns out my trailer signal was out of blinker fluid and didn’t work. It’s a problem in the northern states.

  6. My wife and I encountered an idiot driver yesterday as well. We were returning from a fun day, taking the grandkids and their Momma to Orange County’s “Cube” science fun center, a round trip of about 3 hours. So we dropped them off and heading home from there, an idiot in the right lane started swerving almost into our lane. I blew the horn and that got the idiot’s attention. I guess he was texting or some other distraction, but he sure didn’t like the honk! He pulled in behind us but I managed to avoid him following us home (but I was ready with extra adrenalin!)

  7. George… I’m right there with you on the diabetic thing. Had similar instances, and results in the past. I finally had to take some action. You see its not just our ages, or the fact that we are diabetic. It’s that we let it get out of control, and it weakened us.
    I’ve had it explained to me like this:

    A diabetic is like a bowl. Into that bowl, from various sources we put sugars of all kinds… and the bowl fills. Eventually the bowl is so full of sugars that just one more spoon causes the sugars to spill out of the bowl. (into our bloodstreams and into all sorts of nooks and crannies) Regardless of what we do, if sugars go in, they spill out from then on, getting worse and worse.

    So… what do we do? Stop putting so much sugars into the bowl. In the beginning, that’s would be to restrict our intake to less than 20 grams of carbs a DAY!. Eventually the bowl is less full, and the spillage stops, and we heal.
    I’ve found that the damage (inflammation of all sorts) also responds to a Paleo eating style. The combo (Paleo-Diabetic)was the ticket to getting me off insulin (32 units a day injected) entirely,
    in about nine weeks (you should have seen my docter’s face when he heard i stopped ALL meds, insulin and metformin… and he looked at my A1C levels!).
    But… the really big thing, and to the point about your reaction to the RR incident, is the effect on us from switching to fat burning, vers.
    carb (sugars)burning. the natural fuel we use is Fat. We store it to use it when we need energy, not carbs, like for instance, a long trip across a desert, or being chased by a hungry carnivore. (or a dumb as a box of hammers road rage nutter)
    It takes a while on low carbs to switch back, but oh wow, the stability, and ability to go long periods without a carb hit is incredible. If you were a fat burner the insulin reaction would never have happened, because your fat supply would cover for you.
    Because we are not perfect (at least speaking for me) we can keep a little hit of fat to cover in such instances (I use a small vial of pure coconut oil) Just in case… but to work you must do the switch, and of course for your health too.

    By the way, talk about prepping, nothing could be better than switching to a lifestyle that allows you to keep a source of fuel with you constantly, and allows you to go long periods without food if necessary. Sort of like a BUG,
    only for food. ;-)

  8. “He or she who is at peace with themselves the UNIVERSE itself will protect them.” Don’t want to brag, but decades worth of experience told ME that’s so. (N.B. I’ve been standing before knifes, and sub-machine guns at certain times in my life).

  9. George
    230x850x850/450240(a conversion factor) = 369 ft-lb.
    28000000x44x44/450240 = 12 million ft-lbs.

    Stay in the Lexus, let nutcase get out, and get between both vehicles. I had a big guy get out of his car once late at night in Atlanta. He got out, I used clear traffic to back up a little,luring him out..
    I quit chasing him around his car when he was up on the roof. I waved bu-buy and drove quietly home.

    But remember, don’t ever get out of the car, and you have no moral obligation to allow him to get to you (or Elain) in your car.

    Big Al in Birmingham

    BTW the 28mm is a 4Klb car in grains and 60 mph is 88 fps, so 30 would be 44 fps.

    Big Al in Birmingham

  10. There is an excellent exmaple of Karma at work, like I had said in a post to advising not to pack heat. IF you had been carrying a firearm, you would probably have had to use it, ie, the NSOP would NOT have been there. Thats how Karma works, but ppl still dont beleive in it. That should be the proff. Just think about it, at your age, you are not going to defend youslef physically, so in fear, even an unarmed younger nutcase is life thrieatining to someone your age, so you would have felt justified in giving him some lead fillings. Think: now what?? Win, lose or draw…best case, you kill him. now what?? at best your vacation is ruined, you will face trial; time lost, $$$ for local lawyer, $$ for having to go back for trial, etc, etc. etc, no end to the etc’s….. Worst case, you shoot him and he lives, now you get $ued for bodily harm and injuuries to an unarmed man, similar to the cop shooting, but W/O the indemnity of insurance and/or being a pubic official…bottom ling: life has just become very miserable by orders of magnitude for you, which you didnt need nor want. No carry: GOOD CHOICE! (but no mistake, i bleieve in the right to carry for those who want to and dont beleive/understand Karma, for them that IS hteir Karma, carrying and eventually having to use becase of it)

  11. Better off to not carry a gun. In the real world things escalate at E=mc2. What starts as a gesture, becomes words, mutates into action, then counteraction and then the use of force continuum.

    Things turned out just fine. You are with Elaine rather than in the clink claiming self defense.

    • Carrying a firearm doesn’t necessarily mean that in this instant George would have chosen to use it. Based on the description, he wouldn’t have been justified in using it. The idiot didn’t escalate with a firearm(thank God) so George was extremely fortunate. If George had a legal insurance policy(like USCCA’s) he would be covered in the event he must defend himself and Elaine.

  12. In the olden days, before a/c was common in cars, we always left L.A. in the middle of the night. That allowed us to get through the deserts before sunrise and was easier on the car. I know we’ve gotten used to going where we want, when we want, but consider it. Sometimes the scenery ain’t so scenic, and night-time travel is a different, relaxing experience. When the sun roof is open and you glance up at the sky . . . well, you just have to pull over and take it all in. Try it.

  13. “Perhaps it was a lesson from some aspect of Universe trying to teach me something”

    Maybe the lesson was: “if you don’t take a weapon, I’ll be sure to have a smart law officer nearby”.

  14. See and have experienced this type of road rage here in the PNW to the point I don’t even want to leave my home- far far too many stupid, inept and crazy people out there driving…scariest one was getting onto 520 where the guy wouldn’t let merge onto freeway- I slowed, he slowed; I sped up, he sped up – at the point of being run off the road, I slowed to crawl and finally got on. THEN the a..h.. starts stomping on his brakes. I change lanes. He changes lanes and starts slamming on his brakes…. I hightaled to the nearest exit – adrenaline pumping and feeling really scared. Over 40 years, I have driven in Boston, Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Germany, and other cities, but never have I experienced the incidences of road rage as I have in the past 5 years….and I do know it isn’t my driving capabilities….never had an accident (knock on wood) and only have had 3 tickets 40 years AND I ride a Harley as well. Never,20 years have I experienced road rage when on my Harley, but I do see it when driving my VW. Hmmm, wonder what THAT says?

  15. Whew! Sorry about your experience! Just watched Mad Max Fury Road again. We do not drive at night on US10 out of Indio – semis duking it out on the hill and the crazies wanting to go 100. Every morning there are more guard rails curled up from dead-on hits.

  16. I asked the question back on the “should I” post, and I’ll ask it again.

    Are you willing to put your lives in the hands of a crazy person? Or in the hands of a criminal who has already demonstrated that he has no regard for your life?

    Crazy people are everywhere.

    Back in the day we used to lock up the paranoid schizos. Then somewhere along the way “they” decided that they should treat them with powerful antipsychotic drugs and let them run loose among us. Now we have this.

  17. Lots of mixed nuts out there on the road. Staying at home and working/playing on the ol’homestead is more appealing to us in our silver years. The kids can come HERE to the rural peace and quiet for some R and R. That seems to work out for everyone.

  18. If you traveled highway 140 from Medford to Klamath Falls, you went right by our ranch. Would have invited you in for lunch (dinner?) and polite conversation.

  19. after traveling all over the world and lots in states when i could i would drive ( like the views ) what i found was unless i was forced to take the main roads, due to time constraints i would take as many back roads and i saw many GREAT things and allot less traffic and so less road rage potential. worked for me and still does only now i have NO time constraints.

    • This worked for me when a family trip to the beach was cut short by a hurricane warning. Everyone wanted to leave by Interstate. I set the GPS on “no interstate.”
      It was a longer trip but at a sanity saving 50 MPH average. I use it around most holidays now too. Who is in a hurry anyway?

      Big Al in Birmingham AL

  20. Come to think of it maybe just filming them with your cell phone will put them off… kind of like rubber bullets and pepper spray. Yeah, there you go bear spray is 8 times more powerful and bound to show you did not have malicious intent !! Contact a lawyer of your choice for more court strategy !!

  21. Yes it is truly sad how impolite and rude people have become, which does lend to the chaos that will ensue if there is an apocalyptic event in the future. Sorry you had to experience that, although perhaps having a gun is not such a bad idea going forward ! I know I always have trouble with that idea, as the outcome would involve court time and tons of hassle. Make double sure you have plenty of witnesses and statements from them.

    • Its always better to have and not need, than to need and not have.

  22. I almost mentioned this a few days ago when the discussion of taking a weapon on your trip came up – fifty-some years ago my parents took our family down to Los Angeles old 99 (two lane hwy at the time). We were going back to Oregon via 101, and they wanted to have us kids see as much of California as possible.

    So we were in the middle of ‘farm country’ and it was dark, when all of a sudden we heard a loud bang, and my mom said ‘what was that?’ and my dad thought it was a shotgun noise coming from a pickup that was apparently trying to run us off the road.

    I remember my folks telling us to keep our heads down; my dad was a bit of a car nut and liked to drive fast, which I’m sure whoever was chasing us didn’t know, and so we got away unharmed. But I always have remembered that – the only time I’ve known any personal experience of ‘road rage’.

    I’m still not convinced that carrying a gun is a good idea unless you are fully prepared to use it and deal with the consequences.

    • Do you think Trump has ever been punched right in the face or been punched straight in the face? Do you think Trump carries any scars from standing up for what he believes in?

      An old guy once told me, ‘a man who has no scars stands for nothing.’

      • From what I’ve read of Trump’s history, he’s had many fights, good, bad, and otherwise. I’m not sure what it all means.

        Meanwhile, I’d rather have Hillary in the pickup, since she’d be unlikely to be able to aim accurately.

        Generally speaking, if someone is moving dangerously and aggressively against your car, you want them in front of you, not the other way around. You have far more choices in how to disable their car if you’re behind them. That’s why cops generally stay behind someone they pull over.

        That said, it’s still better to avoid involvement unless absolutely necessary.

      • I prefer to remember this one: “A man who stands for nothing will stand for anything.”

  23. Hi George,

    PLEASE stop using that terrible word “elderly”. That word implies frail and incompetent. The word “elder” indicates a person of wisdom and status, regardless of health condition. I refer to older folks as elders, rather than elderly. The worst use of the word is “the elderly”, akin to “the children”, or “the grass”. There’s nothing honorable about such terms.

    Regarding road rage, remember that if you’re late, there’s no reason to freak out – you’re already late and that’s that.

    Learning, and practicing a deep meditation can make such physiologic reactions much less severe, and you can act rather than react. Yes, you can do this while driving while maintaining high awareness and low blood pressure. I personally tend to go a touch slower than the flow of traffic since I intend to have zero drama, and I focus on extremely precise driving rather than speedy driving. It keeps the challenge in place so you don’t fall asleep without the risks to your license and health from speeding.

    Good luck driving comfortably. And thank GOD for air conditioning.

    • “Elderly” is a perfectly good word and in current society certainly does not imply frailty or incompetence. You and others who attempt to sanitize language because it somehow offends you are the true detractors of society and are the root cause of intolerance. For example: although I agree that “elder” logically indicates wisdom and experience, in practical usage most people will envision white-shirted-black-tied Mormon doorknockers! The only thing worse than linguistic PC-Police are the ignorant, lazy kids who insist on creating entirely new words with no definitive basis. They abbreviate with reckless abandon to save pennies when texting and soon those non-words enter into common vernacular. I’m not certain which is worse: only being able to type with two thumbs or not being able to string together five words to form a coherent sentence… and, you might as well forget about any form of punctuation whatsoever!

      In the process we are creating a world of either 1. people afraid to say what they truly think for fear of offending hyper-sensitivities or, 2. those who have surrendered intellect for the novelty of trendy gibberish and truncated communication.

      I -for one- refuse to sacrifice any communication skills; after all, human beings only have two modes verbal and non-verbal. And if you cannot master the former, then you are doomed to silence. I value my voice far too much for that.

      • Elderly is an adjective, elder is a noun or adjective. Nobody uses a phrase like “I saw an elderly out walking yesterday.”

        I’m a person, and therefore a am represented in the language by a noun. A noun can be created from “elderly” by creating the phrase “the elderly”, at which point you are no longer a person, but a member of a group. This is even worse than the phrase “the children”, since children is the plural form of a real noun.

        Words have power, and English words need to be used effectively and accurately. What we may or may not parse consciously is most certainly parsed sub-consciously.

    • Actually, they aren’t elderly yet; they’re just sneakin’ up on elderly.

  24. Road age Vs road rage. Delays and set backs. Brush and fire
    Hot heads and hot weather. Whether.. the law of attraction and packing heat.. put up your dukes. Pair of jacks? Tattle tails and talking to the man. Throw under the bus by the perp.. Followed by self medication.. after being followed by anger. Letting go of control and giving up your seat in the driver position. Hello drover… pickup what your put-ting down..

    Hmmmmmm…. live your way into a new way of thinking verses think your way into a new way of living, springs to the mind George.. and perhaps the road you travel is the travelers road.

    Taking the day off to reset. Catch up on a few things.. its important to do that at (Ti)me’s.

    Dont ‘read’ ya very often anymore.. evry now and then i stop buy to put a read on ya.

  25. George,
    I hope Ure packing some heat for self defense…
    No need to respond as that info is best kept to oneself.