Friday, September 4, 2015
Preventing Road Rage
"Charity is the greatest social commandment. It respects others and their rights. It requires the practice of justice, and it alone makes us capable of it. Charity inspires a life of self-giving" (Social Doctrine of the Church #583).
A lawyer writing in the diocesan bulletin recounts the tale of a driver who was in custody for retaliatory driving, and the writer was the lawyer who worked in his defense. The problem arises because the accused felt strongly that he also was a victim. Briefly, the incident may be described as follows:
The accused was driving in the first lane on the turnpike, and a follow traveler (plaintiff) was in the passing lane beside him. In front of the driver on his left was a freight truck that was going very slow, and the driver in the first lane surmised the plaintiff was looking for an opportunity to come back to the first lane, so he began to slow down to give the driver a chance to return. However, the driver did not respond. The accused then began to accelerate and the plaintiff, the one on his left- without any signaling suddenly made a turn to the first lane. The accused stepped on the break averting an accident. No sign of regret from the driver and a couple of meters later again without any signal moved to the passing lane. The accused was so angry; he made up his mind to stop the car and get an apology. With much effort he did get the plaintiff to stop, and the accused leaving his car belligerently demanded to know if the driver realized what he was doing? While he was bawling out the driver, a car smashed into the back of the plaintiff's car, there was a three-car pile up with six people injured.
We have the defendant who was doing everything possible to allow the plaintiff to return to the first lane, but he didn't take advantage of the opportunity given. When he did make the move, it was without any signal and the defendant considered he was mentally harmed by the actions of the plaintiff. The defendant did not get any sign of sorrow for his efforts, and the anger (road rage) built up to the point that he wanted some compensation or to show he was not a pushover. He was so overcome with anger that he responded with retaliatory driving, both ended up as victims.
The lawyer told his readers that he learned a lot from this incident. When making a lane change the lawyer admits that he was not always thankful for the help given when it was received. He has often been at fault in actions on the roadways and is now able to make allowance for the faults of others. He is putting himself in the other person's shoes. The case in which he was defending the driver for road rage helped him to be conscious of the feelings of other drivers, and when he does change lanes and is helped, he is more expressive of thanks in his manner than in the past.