Is it just me, or does road rage seem to be more prevalent nowadays than it used to be? It seems that if you accidentally cut someone off, drive in the left lane too long, or use your horn to signal your presence, you may just tick someone off. I am not innocent, either, and can say I have found myself on both sides of this situation.

What do you do when: someone cuts you off in traffic; you notice someone texting and driving; someone changes lanes in front of you without using a turn signal; someone drives too slowly in the left lane; or someone stops at an intersection where there is no yield or stop sign and no vehicles in sight? Do you pay it no mind, do you honk your horn, or do you throw your hands in the air? I’m sure most of us, if not all of us, are not innocent of committing these types of traffic transgressions, albeit inadvertent, so shouldn’t we be slow to cast the first stone?

Admittedly, one of my pet peeves is people using the DOT (Department of Transportation) turnouts to make illegal U-turns (What are DOT turnouts? You know, those spaces in between the opposite direction freeway lanes, in the medians, where police often park to clock your speed?). I wasn’t as sensitive to people using these DOT turnouts until I met a couple of clients (one was a motorcycle rider) who got into serious collisions because of people using these DOT turnouts to make illegal U-turns, braking in the left lane of the freeway, and leaving drivers behind them scrambling to stop behind them, or to switch lanes, if they were able to. What’s worse is that this type of maneuver is not only incredibly risky, inconsiderate of other drivers, and negligent, but it’s also illegal, as there are signs prohibiting U-turns just before every DOT turnout.

On several occasions I have warned (or chastised) many drivers (by sounding my horn) who I have seen using the DOT turnouts to attempt illegal U-turns, because I know how dangerous they are. Many times they are not turning into my lane from a DOT turnout, but I have hoped to bring my disapproval to their attention by sounding my horn. However, on one occasion, where I was in the left lane of a freeway, a driver was attempting a U-turn from a DOT turnout in order to enter my lane, so I sounded my horn, in warning, to avoid a collision. I, afterward, entered the middle lane, and then that driver caught up alongside me. The driver’s wild eyes made him appear irate as he yelled things in my direction even though both vehicles’ windows were up. I believe that he wanted me to pull my vehicle over to talk things over, but I declined, and motioned to him with my fists that I was simply trying to avoid a collision—the closed fists may have conveyed the wrong message, which he may have misunderstood, thinking it was an invitation to fight. However, I was with my wife and my two little girls, and I would most certainly not try to start a fight with someone under those circumstances, and certainly not with two men in another vehicle who had as many face and neck tattoos as they did! I just kept driving straight forward and tried to ignore them, even as they seemed to pull over onto the left shoulder, then caught back up to me, and tried to get my attention by giving me the one finger salute and driving erratically, finally speeding off in their brown-colored 1990s Chevrolet Blazer.

On another occasion, I was driving to work from Pasco to Kennewick, after dropping off my two little girls at the babysitter’s house. I was nearing Richland when the driver of a grey Audi wagon decided to slam on his brakes in the middle of a three lane freeway to attempt a U-turn by using one of these DOT turnouts, just as I was switching from the right lane into the middle lane. I didn’t even have time to sound my horn, as my life flashed before my eyes, and while I both frantically braked and switched back into the right lane. I was very angry with that driver—at his extreme recklessness and disregard for my life, and potentially those of my daughters, had they still been with me. I certainly would have raised my hands at that driver (with enthusiasm!) had freeway speeds not put me out of sight of the driver within mere seconds.

But, why lose your calm over these minor transgressions? If we are lucky enough to avoid a collision, we should be thankful that we are okay, and that our lives were only disrupted but for a split second, if at all. However, if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a collision, you can always come to our office to make sure that you get justice and receive adequate compensation for the damages caused by the negligence of another driver. Don’t get mad—get Anderson Law!

Some common courtesy and defensive driving may do away with much of the rage going on nowadays, and we may do away with much of it by just learning to forgive minor transgressions—maybe taking a deep breath and counting to 10. However, when negligent driving not only affects your mood, but actually causes you damages, don’t get mad—call us instead!

– By Edwardo Morfin, attorney at Anderson Law


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