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OpinionEditorial

Why so angry behind the wheel?

Traffic on the westbound Long Island Expressway is

Traffic on the westbound Long Island Expressway is backed up after an accident that briefly closed down the LIE in both directions in Old Westbury at around 6:45 a.m. Thursday morning, Aug. 7, 2014. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

What are we so angry and entitled about, cradled in our cars?

A fight between two motorists on Easter that left one in the hospital and the other in jail has people talking on Long Island. The attention comes not because the situation was bizarre and unthinkable, but because it seems so workaday and relatable.

As with any road rage incident, there are two sides to the story. Brett Penny, 48, was driving on a two-lane road in Calverton, taking his mother home Sunday afternoon. A pickup driven by Michael Doroski, 25, came up behind them. Penny's mom says Doroski was tailgating and her son stopped the car, his mom's black Lincoln, and got out. Melissa Penny says her son approached the truck, then came back to her car stabbed and bleeding. Doroski was alone in his truck, but his mom told Newsday her son was "tailgating him [Penny] a bit" and Penny slammed on the brakes in response. She said Penny punched her son, which allegedly led Michael Doroski to stab the man with a pocketknife.

Doroski drove to the Riverhead Police Department and turned himself in. Penny ended up at Stony Brook University Hospital. Both could have made choices that would have prevented the altercation.

Don't tailgate. Don't stop if someone's tailgating you. Don't stop if the other driver in a potential altercation pulls over. Don't get out of your car. Don't engage an infuriated stranger, even if he or she shoots you the finger for not accelerating fast enough when the light turns green. And most of all, don't be an infuriated stranger.

If we're honest, we admit we sometimes make driving errors that inconvenience or scare others, and others sometimes do it to us.

No one's perfect behind the wheel. That's why it's doubly important not to act like perfect idiots on the roads.

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