Road rage: it’s not just for the young anymore

Although it's often displayed by younger drivers, older motorists are not immune

It was a sweltering mid-summer day and I was stopped at a traffic light. The AC was on the fritz so I had all the car windows open.

Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have heard the cursing.

It came from the car behind me and I could see the driver’s face in my mirror.

It was deep magenta, his eyes were bulging, the veins in his neck standing out like sail shrouds.  He was leaning toward his front passenger window, directing a Niagara of expletives at the people in the car alongside him.  In that car sat a frail and elderly couple, frozen in fear, staring straight ahead.

I don’t know the nature of the old folks’ driving infraction, real or imagined, but the berserker’s reaction was absurdly over the top.  What made it extra ugly was the little boy sitting beside the driver — his son, presumably — also staring straight ahead.

Nice lesson in civil discourse, Dad.

Road rage. What a weird phenomenon.  Where did it come from? Was there such a thing as horse-and-buggy rage? Roman chariot rage?

Probably. Where there’s testosterone, there’s a way.

The term, however, is only a few decades old, originating back in the 1980s as a description for a rash of car-to-car shootings that occurred on the freeways around Los Angeles.

Road rage doesn’t always to involve firearms.  It can manifest as verbal abuse, rude and menacing gestures or simple aggressive driving.

Had a case of it myself, once, many years ago.  A younger, stupider version of yours truly was tooling down Highway 401 north of Toronto. I blew by a middle-aged dawdler in a station wagon, not thinking much about it.

A few seconds later, I looked over and there he was beside me, hunched over his steering wheel, driving fender to fender, determined to pass.

Was I sensible? Did I hit the brakes and let him have his way, tut-tutting him with a mild finger wave?

I mentioned ‘younger and stupider’, right?

I floored it; he floored it; I floored it some more. We both hurtled down the highway at probably twice the speed limit, both of us white-knuckling the wheel, determined that We’d Show That Jerk.

Nothing calamitous happened.  There were no rollovers, no caroming off the guardrails or wailing cop sirens.

My exit eventually came up and I took it.  As my car and my heart slowed down in tandem I remember thinking: what the hell was that about?

I still wonder.

Why did the doofus in the station wagon feel he suddenly needed to risk his life to pass me?  Why did I feel I had to risk my life to prevent him?

That’s the scary thing about road rage: it makes no sense at all.  Some drivers describe ‘a red mist’ swirling before their eyes and an overpowering urge to ‘get even’ at any cost.

The typical road rager?  Male.  Single. Spotty education. Mid-level income.

And of course, young.  Usually under 35.

Usually, but not always.

Clyde White of Corbin, Kentucky recently ran afoul of the law. The cops finally collared him, but not until the conclusion of a chase that reached speeds of over 100 miles per hour. And not before White had rammed two other cars with his own.

One of the rammed cars was driven by his brother, aged 82; the other by his sister, aged 83.

Clyde himself is 78.  Proving that when it comes to road rage, it doesn’t matter if you’re young or old.

Just as long as you’re stupid.



— Arthur Black is a regular columnist with The News. He lives on Salt Spring Island


Just Posted

The proposed running track upgrade at Ballenas Secondary is now on course. (PQB News file photo)
RDN: Parksville track upgrade project gains some traction

Staff recommends board approve $204,000 funding

The total earnings of Town of Qualicum Beach council and mayor amounted to $186,649 in 2020, including expenses. (Town of Qualicum Beach photo)
Nine Qualicum Beach town employees earned more than $100K in 2020

Mayor and council received earnings totalling $186,649

(PQB News file photo)
Fireworks report highlights enforcement challenges for Regional District of Nanaimo

Director: ‘I just think it’s wasting everybody’s time’

Terry Mazzei next to a truck after it was struck by lightning, with him inside, on Wednesday afternoon, June 9. He walked away from the incident without injury and the truck sustained only mild damage; a blown front tire and newly broken gas gauge. (Wendy Mazzei photo)
Nanoose Bay man walks away unscathed after lightning strike

VIDEO: ‘We like to think that his dad was watching over him’

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read