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Some thoughts on road rage

Closeup photo of angry driver honking in trafficRoad rage is no laughing matter. Austin cyclist E. Scott recently found this out the hard way when dentist Jerry Milner became angry that Scott was riding in a traffic lane (the bike lane was overgrown with vegetation). After yelling at Scott, Milner allegedly pulled in front of Scott and slammed on his brakes. This caused Scott to fly into the back of Milner’s truck. Scott suffered damage to his knees, arms, and elbows. Milner simply drove away.

Luckily in this case Scott was able to remember the truck’s license plate number, and the police were able to track down and arrest Milner. Milner’s bumper was dented and still had the imprint of a bicycle rider’s fingerless glove.

Sadly this case highlights an ongoing problem that cyclists face when it comes to road rage. The part of the road on which Scott was riding does not have a lot of traffic, and there was another lane. It would have been very easy for a driver to simply and safely pass any cyclist on the road. But yet we constantly hear about cases in which drivers get angry that they have to slow down for a bit and share the road with cyclists. When angry drivers lash out, this leads to needless injury and death.

The worst part is that many of these injuries are entirely preventable. Yet drivers still continue to get angry and act in ways that defy not only logic and safety, but the law. Just look at the recent death of cyclist Jimmie Sines in Dallas. Rather than stop after hitting Sines, the driver continued on for half a mile with the victim still lodged in his windshield before finally dumping Sines in an alley and driving away. Luckily witnesses saw him driving and reported him to the police, but driving away after an accident is never an appropriate response, especially under such egregious circumstances.

We applaud the Austin Police Department for their quick work in the Milner case, but road rage is not an isolated issue, and it’s not going to go away on its own. So let’s continue working together. Educate yourself and others about the dangers of road rage. If someone makes you mad while you’re driving, take a deep breath and try to relax so that you will not make a bad decision in a moment of anger. If you see someone else getting angry and driving in an unsafe way, take note and report them. Let’s learn to share the road and put an end to road rage, one good decision at a time.

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