In the process of researching this blog piece, I came across some pretty horrendous stuff, like the thirty year old male who physically assaulted an eighty-one year old woman and left her with facial injuries and feeling extremely scared and vulnerable. The reason the man gave for the attack was that the woman was driving too slowly. Speaking in his own defence and trying to justify his vicious assault on her, he claimed the woman had attacked him first. Apparently this was after he'd called her, "A f****ing bitch," and a "Stupid old cow" and she had quietly gestured with a hand towards his mouth and asked him not to use such bad language. Or, how about the van driver who was so irritated by another road user's driving, and after they had each exchanged a few rude gesticulations, produced a gun and pointed it at them in a threatening manner. It turned out to be a toy gun! Funny huh? An incident between two female drivers reported in the Guardian recently, left one woman dead after the other one drove her car directly at her after an argument then sped away from the crime scene.
Yes, driving can be a stressful business but I can't believe anyone in their right mind would consider the three examples I give above as remotely justifiable. I suspect road rage incidents say far more about the society we live in, a society that we are all responsible for creating, than we might readily care to admit. My parents instilled into me a respect for others, especially for those who are elderly, less capable, or are vulnerable in some way. I just can't imagine being angry enough to strike an eighty-one year old woman or to verbally abuse her as described above, no matter how slow she's driving!
Three words spring unheeded to mind, they strike me as words far more commonly used in the past - but then perhaps I'm in danger here of looking back through rose tinted specs. I don't know, we were most definitely a less affluent, aspirational society when I was a youngster and three little words seem to have been far more prevalent then. The words I'm thinking of: respectfulness, politeness and courtesy. The only time I hear that word 'courtesy' these days is when our car breaks down and we get a replacement one for a day or two.