The best way to fix road rage is through yourself

By now, students and faculty are probably settled back into their routines. But that does not mean students and faculty returned to campus without first experiencing a little road rage.

I’m not sure if there are solid statistics to prove this statement, but the highways from northern Illinois to the University of Illinois have to be some of the most boring roads to have ever “graced” the infrastructure of the United States.

Driving on a straight road with no scenic foliage is maddening. There are not even cornfields to admire anymore. There are no tractors to watch. Aside from the wind mills, there is only pavement and no end in sight.

Without many distractions, the road serves as the only form of entertainment during the drive, sometimes escalating into road rage. There are many scenarios of said road rage, and I would like to bet that most drivers who have driven the trek to central Illinois have experienced these scenarios.

Scenario 1: The grandma mobile

You are driving down the road, no other cars in sight. Finally, you approach a minivan in the left lane and a semi-truck in the right lane. For some reason, the minivan decides it wants to stay parallel to the semi for the rest of its life, and no amount of chocolate can tempt them out of that horrible decision.

You could honk the horn or tailgate the minivan, calling the driver all and any horrible names you come up with. Although, the driver will not hear your words. All the driver will see is your twisted face behind your window.

Or you could patiently wait for one of the vehicles to hit the gas pedal a little bit harder because you realize both vehicles are going the speed limit.

Scenario 2: The car with no headlights

Once again, you are driving, but this time at night. Whenever you look in your rearview mirror, you realize there is some kind of movement, but it is too dark to make out what is really moving. Certainly, the movement does not look like a car.

But it is.

A car behind you is following your car so closely that the headlights on the car behind you can no longer be seen. The person chooses not to pass you, but trails you, making your anxiety about a fender bender skyrocket.

Your initial reaction may be to tap your breaks to scare them off. You try to trick them into swerving or moving into another car’s path, as long as it is not your path. However, that is not the kind reaction that you were taught in your drivers’ education courses. Instead, you should continue on driving because what is important is the road in front of you, not the cars behind you.

That is, unless the car behind you is flashing red and blue lights.

Scenario 3: The car that thinks it’s Lightning McQueen

Surprise, you are driving again. What makes this scenario unique is that it involves a playmate of sorts. A fancy sports car that looks like it could have a starring role in “Transformers” weaves through lanes, cutting off cars as it speeds down the highway.

Finally, it becomes your turn to be cut off by the fancy, sporty car. That situation does not sit well with you.

The car cuts into your lane, right in front of your car, making you tap the breaks and panic, wondering if the ditches on highways are made of padding and balloons. Needless to say, you are bothered by the situation. This car is not rushing a pregnant woman to a hospital, nor is it trying to hit the right speed to return to the future during a lightning storm like Michael J. Fox.

Your initial reaction is to speed down the highway until you catch up to the rude sports car. You are not sure how you will get payback once you get there. All you know is that the road rage inside of you is in control now.

Sometimes your gut reaction is good to go by. In this case, it is not. Instead, you should continue as you are, not causing a scene or a potential future accident with other innocent bystanders.

There is a pattern in these three scenarios: compassion. There is understanding that some people do not drive kindly on highways, but you realize that an eye for an eye is not the best reaction. That type of mentality only leads to more problems when you accidentally spin out of control trying to get revenge.

Sure, there is a lot of road rage as students and faculty drive to and from the University during holiday breaks, but there is a realization to be made from this shared road rage: You are not the only one bothered by the way people drive on the highway.

That means that many people are bothered by selfish, rude driving.

Perhaps if drivers keep this in mind, realizing that one person’s actions affect many other people’s reactions, then road rage would be less common.

Road rage is tempting on a highway as dull as the one leading to the land of orange and blue. But consciously trying to eliminate your personal road rage could make the trips home from the University a little more pleasant.

Rebecca is a junior in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]