Road rage is an epidemic we can cure
The first time it happened was in mid-summer, and I wrote it off to someone having a bad day.
It was a Saturday afternoon and I was driving on Castleton Avenue in West Brighton on Staten Island.
Then, while stopped, a young woman was suddenly pounding on my window.
I had no idea why, so I rolled it down and was met with a barrage of high-volume vulgarities.
Did I inadvertently cut her off? Nope.
Did I stop too abruptly? Nope.
All I do know is she was furious.
So I calmly apologized for “upsetting” her and she finally got back in her car.
As we continued along the two-way stretch, she was a coat of paint away from my rear bumper, so — to be safe — I pulled over and let her zoom by.
Maybe it was simply that I was traveling close to the speed limit — not fast enough for her.
An isolated incident?
It was, until a few weeks ago.
Again, I was traveling the allowable few miles per hour above the 25 mph posted limited and the car behind me — a shiny new Mercedes — was inches from my tailpipe, flashing his lights.
We were on a section Manor Road and he couldn’t pass me given the volume of traffic traveling in the opposite lane. Passing would have been illegal and dangerous — even if the traffic allowed, given the double yellow line.
When we got to the light at Victory Boulevard in Castleton Corners, he blared his horn the second the light turned green.
Victory too was packed, so we both crawled along and stopped at the next light.
Light turned green — again, a blaring horn.
So near the CVS a few blocks down, I decided to pull over and let him pass.
But he didn’t.
Instead, he pulled close enough to nearly bump mirrors, rolled down his passenger window and called me every name in the book.
I didn’t react — and after unloading his rage, he squealed away and continued toward Jewett Avenue.
At that light, I pulled up right behind him. He looked in the rear-view mirror and, with an angry glare, offered one parting, offensive hand gesture to display his rage.
So what was the point?
Listen, like it or not, the speed limit on most Island roads per Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative is 25 — and as many of the signs say, it’s “photo enforced.”
There have been a series of enforcement crackdowns preceded by public awareness campaigns. And over the past were weeks, there’ve been public service announcements and a new crop of digital signage reminding drivers to obey traffic regulations.
To drive the point home, there has been an unprecedented surge is speeding and other summones for other moving violations issued across the borough.
I have yet to get one. And don’t intend to.
No matter what you think of Vision Zero, and many bash it as a revenue-producing summons machine, the fact remains that the speed limit here and across the city has been lowered.
But that aside, the behavior of many drivers, to me, is inexplicable.
I’ve made this plea before, but now that holiday traffic is coming and the roads are going to be even more jammed, I’ll make it again.
Sure, the roads are riddled with rude — and enraged — drivers.
But does that mean you have to join the unhappy crowd?
No it doesn’t.
And if you don’t and a few more don’t, the intense tone on borough roads could in fact be transformed.
It will take time and patience and tolerance, but in the end, we’ll all reap the rewards.
OK, so this will be called totally wishful, unrealistic thinking.
How about this, try it. Be a calm, polite, accommodating driver for a few days.
You’ll get where you’re going in just about the same amount of time, and what do you have to lose?
Getting to the next red light three or four seconds sooner?