Okay, kids, we need to talk. However, before we discuss the videos below, we need to stipulate a couple things: First, the motorcyclist’s action that precipitated this series of events was illegal. Lane splitting is against the law in Florida. Yes, what he did was trivial but still illegal. Second, the car driver’s reaction was so over-the-top-disproportionate to the motorcyclist’s actions that he clearly has other issues in play. What we need to look at in this road rage video, not to mock or to lay blame but, rather, to identify and learn from, is how the rider essentially threw gasoline on a conflagration. He was extremely lucky to escape unharmed and without injuring others.
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The first video the rider released begins mid-event. We’ll look at second video that reveals how it started in a bit, but for now, consider that this is how the driver made his unstable personality known to the rider. Simply put, this event should have been over after the first 30 seconds of the video. The rider has obviously done something to upset the driver since he cuts off the motorcyclist twice in the first 12 seconds. Following his first instinct, the rider wisely tries to get away, using the superior acceleration of the motorcycle. However, 28 seconds in, when he arrives at a stoplight and gets cut off for the third time, there is a gas station immediately on his right. The prudent thing to do would have been to pull in, get off his bike, and walk inside the store. He could document with his helmet cam any damage the driver does to his bike, and if the driver tries to escalate things, he’ll have witnesses. Let’s not forget that convenience store clerks are well acquainted with how to get in touch with the police quickly.
Instead, the rider runs again. Pro tip: If you’re riding on the far edge of the road with oncoming traffic coming between you and the person you’re trying to get away from, you’re doing something wrong. A Southernism I learned in high school applies here: “If you’re already in a hole, there’s no use to continue digging.” So many problems in our lives and the lives of others could’ve been avoided if we’d only heeded that advice.
So, the rider takes off on suburban streets at speeds of over 130 mph. Now, he’s endangering himself and others and likely exacerbating the problem in the driver’s eyes by impinging his manhood and trying to ditch him. Fortunately, the situation ends after a of “Fck you!” “No, f*ck you!” exchange at the 3:20 mark. Far too many people have these as their last words. (Probably on the same order of magnitude as, “Hold my beer and watch this.”) The rider was very lucky.
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You don’t need to watch too much of the prequel to the road rage video, just 0:44–1:15 will suffice. The car driver had a bad reaction to the motorcyclist filtering in front of him at a stop light, an illegal action that a police officer on the other side of the intersection chose to ignore. Once the light turns green, the car driver passes aggressively in a display of his “rightful” indignation. This would have likely been the end of it and prevented the next video and its high-speed chase if the rider had just let it go. Instead, he slaps the car’s mirror and speeds off, sending the unstable driver over the edge into road rage. The driver makes his first attempt to cut off the rider at 1:44 – again with a gas station and the opportunity to have witnesses nearby. Wash, rinse, repeat.
So, what did we learn in class, today? First, a seemingly trivial action can send an unstable person into a rage. Whether you, the rider, feel that the rage is justified doesn’t matter. A car is bigger and heavier than you and your bike. If you’re injured or dead, does it really matter if you were right? Second – and this is the hard part for any human, myself included – don’t engage. Lord knows, I’ve given in to my own temper and, occasionally, learned from it the hard way.
Finally, if attempting to get away from the crazy person isn’t working, find a place with lots of people to stop and seek protection in the herd. If the angry idiot foaming at the mouth calls you chicken, say, “Yeah, I’m afraid of you because angry people do irrational things, and I don’t want to be a mistake you regret.” Or just keep your mouth shut and don’t engage.
Ironically, I encountered an angry, old, white man (you know the demographic), yesterday, while parking my truck in front of the post office. In the space that could’ve accommodated about 2.3 Tacomas, he parked, as I waited for him, with so much room behind his rear bumper that, although I could fit in front of him, it was gonna be tight. As I backed into the space, he laid into the horn. Thinking it was someone in one of the cars that was waiting for me to finish parallel parking, I continued to move into the space. The driver of the other Tacoma jumped out and started screaming that I was going to hit his truck. I calmly said that I was not going to hit him because my truck, like his of the same model, has a backup camera. As he continued screaming at me, I said, “I’m really sorry you’re having a bad day, but I was not going to hit you.” He responded with veins bulging out from his neck, “I’m not having a bad day, you f*cking asshole!” then turned on his heel, got back in his truck, and drove away. I guess he didn’t need to go to the Post Office after all. Yeah, I wish that I’d been wearing a helmet cam to record this.
Watch out. The crazies are out there. Don’t stoop to their level.