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Equal Ground

Published: Sunday July 20, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Sunday July 20, 2014 MYT 7:37:16 AM

Cool it, road rage isn't cool

There are more people on the road now than ever before. Crowding causes aggression and, not surprising, people are driving in a state of distress.

BEFORE tragedy struck Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, one of the most talked-about issues in the papers was the story of a woman vilifying a senior citizen over a minor road incident in Kuantan.

It’s road rage, the police said of the incident where the 30-something businesswoman spewed a bitter and venomous tirade against the elderly man after his vehicle bumped into her new car and caused minor damage to it.

Bidding to get even, she struck the man’s older sedan with a steering lock and demanded RM2,000 in compensation. She also called him stupid and took away his car key.

While this was going on, another motorist captured the ugly encounter and posted a three-minute video of the drama on cyberspace.

By Tuesday, a day after the dramatic afternoon episode, the video had garnered 30,000 shares on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, news portals and blogs.

Disgusted by the woman’s action, viewers gave her a taste of what it’s like to be bullied albeit over cyberspace.

There was reportedly an amicable end between the two drivers, although the woman did not escape from police action. She was arrested but has since been released on police bail.

Road bullying appears to be gradually becoming a national epidemic.

We are not just talking about rude gestures and verbal insults but also punches, knees in the face and, as the now infamous incident in Kuantan shows, whacks with a steering lock.

Once you get on the road, the risk is already there that you could have an encounter with a road rager or, worse, become one yourself.

On the way, you would see drivers running red lights, reading the newspaper, and talking or texting on cell phones, among others.

It burns us up to see other people do these things, but many of us are guilty too because, in a sickening way, we enjoy the thrill of beating the law.

So, is there anything anyone can do to alleviate stress while driving and, hopefully, avoid becoming a road bully?

Well, since driving schools are the nurseries for aspiring drivers, they should include in their syllabus an anti-bullying strategy that encourages all learner drivers to take a stand against road rage.

Surely, the lessons are not just about manoeuvring a car around orange cones, angled parking, two-point turns or navigating slopes?

At the official level, the relevant ministries and agencies should think about a concerted effort in neighbourhoods, villages and housing areas to educate road users and drivers about what is acceptable behaviour on public and private roads.

Road ragers don’t think about the consequences or even about other road users as real people with real families.

They don’t see if their victims are young or old, male or female. They see only “something” that makes their blood boil.

Big or small, incidents of rage lead to altercations, assaults and onslaughts that result in injuries, destruction and at times even death.

There are far more people on the road than ever before. Crowding causes aggression and, not surprising, people drive in a state of distress.

On this matter, I would like to share a piece of advice given by a vete­ran friend: when the traffic light turns red, don’t get grumpy.

Instead, use that time for a simple exercise to help relieve stress by contracting and releasing the different muscles in your body.

Start from the feet, move up to your calves, and then the thighs, abdomen, back, chest, neck and then face.

Also, get enough rest; give yourself time to get to where you’re going to avoid stress and do not return offensive gestures.

> Shah A. Dadameah is an Associate Editor on the Newsdesk. He says bullying is totally not cool.

Tags / Keywords: road rage

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