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Media Literacy Review
Center for Advanced Technology in Education - College of Education - University of Oregon - Eugene

A Solution for "Road Rage"

Bill Walsh, Contributing Writer

Stories in the media about road rage are all the fashion these days. In fact, it's become a very hot topic in both TV reports and newspapers during this heavy-travel summer season.

In an effort to bring investigative journalism to The Billerica Minute Man, I have just returned from my own in-depth study of what's happening on America's highways these days, and I'm sad to report that road rage is alive and well.

The truth is that road rage is not abnormal; it's the perfectly reasonable response of otherwise perfectly reasonable people to various motoring frustrations. In fact, I caught it myself. On an 36-hour, 2,000 mile drive to and from the Midwest this summer, I learned that there are many reasons for road rage - and they're all good ones. I'm talking about the actual rage here - not the acting upon it (which would be wrong).

First off, driving is not an option any more - it's a necessity. A friend of mine tried to fly to and from the same destination I had. She wound up being "delayed" sitting in an airplane on the runway in Detroit for five hours, practically a hostage. Worse than that, even, because most hostages are at least given water or information periodically. I don't want to embarrass the airline by giving its name; let's just say that it's named after the direction on the compass that's midway between north and west.

So one simply has to drive. But most Americans don't know how. Maybe they did once, but they've forgotten or are consciously ignoring some of the rules. For example, you're supposed to drive in the right lane. No matter how fast you're going, if the right lane is empty, you're supposed to be there. The left lane is for passing. Ideally, of course, each highway should have three lanes - one for those cars going slower than I am, one lane for cars going faster than I am, and one lane for me. This is hardly ever the case, though, so I found myself behind cars traveling 20 miles under the speed limit in the passing lane. My road rage started.

And what is this with mobile homes and trailers? You'd think that both the makers and drivers of these things would realize that you need the power of an Atlas rocket to drive them at some sort of reasonable speed. When I become king of the world, any mobile home that's not equipped with at least two jet engines would be prohibited from the roadways.

Here's a news flash - nowhere in any law does it say that when the first raindrop hits your windshield, you've got to slow down 50%! Road rage is building here!

Cell phones, of course, should be outlawed - or at least someone ought to come up with the circuitry to make it impossible to talk on a cell phone while actually driving. If you want to pull completely off the road and into a corn field to talk to your head office, fine - but I'd really appreciate it if while you were driving on the same road as I am, you'd pay attention to what you're doing!

My own car is equipped with a state-of-the-art audio static production unit - otherwise known as an AM radio. Whatever happened to radio in this country? You know, driving along listening to some tunes? The only thing more frustrating than not being able to tune in AM stations was being able to tune them in and hear what passes for entertainment on America's airwaves today.

Road rage into the red zone!

By the way, as America slowly ages and the Baby Boom generation grows into middle age, our kidneys are not as strong as they used to be. I wish someone would acknowledge that fact and make provisions for it along our highways and byways. Some states thoughtfully provide rest rooms every 300 miles or so at the highway robbery stops which also feature food and gas. Other states think it's fine to drop a Porta-Potty off in some secluded rest area and call that a "facility."

And as long as I'm ranting here, can't somebody do something about toll booth workers? I mean, I realize that's hard work sitting on a stool all day handing out little computerized highway passes or collecting money (sometimes even having to make change), but is being surly part of the job description? The only people who seem more bored with their jobs and resentful towards the public are the customs agents at the U.S.-Canadian border. Apparently a poor attitude comes with the uniform.

As frustrating as driving may be and as normal as road rage has become in our society these days, I have come up with a solution to the problem. No need to thank me; I've done it as a public service.

Instead of having 150 million Americans each with a little road rage, let's give it all to one motorist and make it legal!

All we need to do is to equip one car within the state with machine guns behind the front grille and give the driver of that vehicle immediate power of life-and-death over anyone who annoys him on the roads. The public will know that the special car is out there somewhere, but they won't know which one it is, don't you see? It would be wonderful! Cut off the wrong guy in traffic and you could get zapped! Act surly or rude to a toll-paying motorist and it could be your last day at a government job!

It would make everybody think twice about how they act and drive on our highways.

In fact, I'm volunteering my vehicle for the experiment!