“Road rage is an aggressive or angry behavior by a driver of an automobile or other motor vehicle. Such behavior might include rude gestures, verbal insults, deliberately driving in an unsafe or threatening manner, or making threats. Road rage can lead to altercations, assaults, and collisions which result in injuries and even deaths. It can be thought of as an extreme case of aggressive driving.” (As stated by Wikipedia.)
I learned to drive in a very small town where the only thing that ever slowed traffic down was a tractor putzing down the middle of the road. I was also taught to drive in an Astro mini van; not exactly top-of-the-line in performance ability.
Then I moved to Chicago. Yes, you would have laughed at me for the first couple years I drove there. It was quite pitiful – I was such a timid driver. I’m sure I stuck out like a sore thumb as a non-Chicagoan to all of the native drivers. In Chicago, like many large cities, it is drive… or be driven off the road. It’s do… or be honked at. It’s pedal to the metal, only inches to spare while merging, offensive driving. After I became more confident in my city-driving abilities, I started to blend in as a Chicago driver. And then I moved again… and again… and again.
I’ve learned that you can take the driver out of Chicago, but you can’t take the Chicago out of the driver. Even though I’ve lived in some rural areas since Chicago (a few of my Iowa friends thought I was a bit of a crazy driver), I still have Chicago-driving tendencies… for better or for worse. For one, I am not afraid to be an aggressive driver. Not that I have road rage… I definitely don’t get violent. I would call it more of a “road impatience”. I’m not always the most patient person behind the wheel, so I do end up talking to myself quite a bit in the car. I think it’s just because I clearly understand the dimensions of my car, how it performs, and how to get from point A to point B as efficiently as possible.
Now I live in Knoxville. Being one of the three largest cities of Tennessee, I guess I kind of figured that there would be at least somewhat of a big-city driving mentality. Was I ever wrong. The pace here is much more relaxed overall, and I attribute that to the laid-back demeanors of most Southerners. It is definitely something I have had to adjust to.
One of the things I have encountered that has made me chuckle is how they express the Southern hospitality to their driving. Quite a few different times now I have encountered this same scene: I am stopped at a stop sign, waiting for the traffic that has the right of way. However, instead of taking their right of way, a driver may choose to stop at the intersection (even though they do not have a stop sign) and wave for you to go ahead. While it is a nice gesture, I do no accept their offer because if I were to not see another car coming, the accident would be my fault since I did not have the right of way. And I’m not willing to get a ticket for that.
I kind of puzzled at this a little, that while it is a nice gesture, why did so many drivers do this? And I noticed a lack of knowledge of whose turn it is at a four-way stop. Then I was told by a friend that drivers in Tennessee do not have to take a driver’s education class – they only have to be able to pass the test to get their license. This definitely explains some of the interesting habits that I see many drivers here exhibiting.
On my part, I have had to learn to practice a little more patience while driving… except when I’m passing back through Chicago, of course. I have to say, I really do enjoy that rush hour here is nothing even close to Chicago’s; it’s definitely a calmer driving experience. And I am thankful that my time in Chicago made me a much more confident driver overall.
(And just a note: I’ve never caused an accident or gotten a ticket due to my Chicago-like driving. I’m probably one of the safer Chicago-type drivers… if there is such a thing.)