Road rage?

A piece in today’s Albany Times-Union by Michael C. Brannigan talks about road rage, and incivility. He says that experts estimate there are 200 billion hostile exchanges annually among U.S. motorists.
Really? That works out to about two per day for every man, woman, and child. Maybe it depends on how you define “hostile exchange.” (We sometimes similarly hear about “studies” showing that some shocking percentage of wives suffer domestic violence. If you delve into the details it turns out that such studies count raising one’s voice as “violence.”)
I’ve actually rarely encountered what I’d call “road rage.” Maybe a little “road annoyance” now and then, but not rage. Meantime, I do often drive a route where a certain turn is normally impossible unless another driver lets me cut in. And someone always does, literally within seconds.
Why does that happen? It’s a small sacrifice for the other driver, yet why do it for a stranger?
The implicit idea is that if he does it for me today, someone else will do it for him tomorrow. Every time this happens, I recall Anne Frank’s writing “in spite of everything, I still believe people are good at heart.”
Road behavior is a actually a perfect microcosm of the larger society. The rules of the road impede completing our trips as fast as possible. Yet we voluntarily follow those rules practically 100 per cent of the time, because we know that otherwise the whole system would fail, serving no one’s interests. It’s awesome testimony to human rationality and social cooperativeness to see cars zipping along at high speeds in complex traffic patterns with rarely a mishap. And when one occurs, is there a fight? No—usually, a polite exchange of insurance information!

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