Skip to main content

Davis Journal

One Man’s Opinion – Road rage

Jun 06, 2024 10:19AM ● By Braden Nelsen

I’ve written an article on road rage before, in which I spoke with both law enforcement and a mental health professional on the dangers of road rage, how common it is, and why cases may be increasing. I gained some new insight into this phenomenon, and with more and more cases being reported regularly, I wanted to address it again, this time, in a column.

Personally, and professionally, I think road rage boils down to two simple factors. The first is survival. Everyone is familiar with the analogy of a cornered animal being more dangerous than usual. Well, in many ways, we in 2024 are cornered animals. The economy, despite the plaudits of the day, is rough. Inflation is hurting so many people across the globe. The election is coming up, and somehow, once again, neither candidate is someone the majority of Americans are excited about.

Couple all of that with the fact that we are still, four years later, reeling from the effects of a global pandemic, and it makes sense that people don’t feel like they’re thriving, but rather surviving. Thriving people have the time, the wherewithal, and the desire to be creative, and expressive, to contribute to society, and to give back. Survivors grasp onto everything they have because they never know when they’ll need it, or when it will be taken away.

Applying this to road rage, it’s likely survivors view the small portion of the road that they temporarily control as an asset, as something they have, and if that is infringed upon, out comes the cornered animal. It’s seen as an attack on small, dwindling resources and therefore must be confronted so it doesn’t happen again. Of course, it’s not an affront, it’s likely an accident, and no one owns the road that we all share, but desperation can make fools of us all.

The word affront brings up the second factor: pride. For many, being on the road is a source of pride. Fancy cars, expensive modifications, driving well over the speed limit, not signaling are all sources of pride – they do these things because they can because they have the money, they are that tough, they can’t be bothered because of pride. When that pride is besmirched, they feel the need to defend their station.

This is the one that gets more dangerous than survival, in my opinion, because the prideful retaliate out of sheer anger. The blood begins to boil, they begin seeing red, and soon, they’re making decisions that no rational person would make, including themselves under different circumstances, just because in their mind their pride has been wounded. 

Sure, everyone gets a little angry on the road, but there’s a difference: if you’re angry or upset because your life was endangered by someone acting recklessly, I think you’re entitled to a few choice epithets, but odds are, you’re not going to chase that person down because heck, they could do it again! How can we as a society let cooler heads prevail?

It’s going to be an uphill battle no matter what. We’ve all been conditioned since the turn of the century to want things fast, if not immediately, fast food, high-speed internet, overnight shipping. Patience is a fast-disappearing virtue, but it’s one that could literally save lives. If we only had more patience with ourselves and others, road rage may well be a thing of the past.

Anyway, that’s just one man’s opinion.

Braden Nelsen is a staff writer with the Davis Journal and has worked in many different industries before becoming a writer. He is a historian, an outdoorsman, and a cinephile, with expertise and opinions on a wide variety of topics.