How To Handle Road Rage While Motorcycling In The New Year

Give to live…

Allow me to list several reasons for us to lose our minds and fly into road rage:

1. The texter slows unexpectedly every time the phone pings… Then flips you the bird if you flash your headlight(s) to remind them they’re driving a car.
2. The texter follows you carelessly closely while ordering take-out sushi… And then flips you the bird if you flash your brake light before they order a rainbow roll.
3. The texter veers into your lane with no signal or even head movement… Then flips you the bird if you honk to protect yourself.
4. The texter stays stationary well after the light turns green… Then flips you the bird if you politely honk to interrupt their missive.
5. The texter holds back a long line of traffic in the freeway’s left lane or up a canyon… Then flips you the bird if you pass.
6. The overly aggressive driver does something, um, overly aggressive and causes a near crash… And doesn’t wave an apology or even look at you.

Okay, I’ll stop there. Mad yet? Me too. Society makes those who fly into road rage the bad guys (and they are), but chooses to ignore causes of the rage. Unfortunately, that’s a subject which might never reach the intended audience because texters probably don’t feel the need to improve their mobile texting. “My driving is fine, everybody else is crazy.” In fact I wrote a series of articles for my local newspaper on the causes of road rage, but they were not accepted.

Those of us who truly love riding and driving may be quicker to anger because we see how driver ignorance makes our passion significantly more dangerous and time-consuming. Opinions on the “consumption of time” vary widely, but time is the one thing we can’t make more of; some drivers don’t want their time “wasted.” Most drivers/riders, enthusiasts or not, will become angry when they are given the middle finger by the very person who is causing the problem.

Road rage is not a mystery. Rarely is it unprovoked. Rarely is it “that guy is just crazy.” Occasionally, but rarely.

Are we good so far? Have I missed anything? This preamble is to let you know that I understand road rage from both sides: Felt it and dealt it. I do not stand above you to preach; I stand with you to discuss.

And to bring you this survival rhyme: Give to Live.

The rhyme helps me remember when on-road stupidity raises my ire.

Give: Give way, give up your anger, give the driver a break, give the driver some compassion, give the driver a wide berth.

Live: Give up your road rage to live longer, live happier, live healthier, live wealthier.

If you struggle with this, write “Give” on your tachometer or speedometer. Say “give to live” out loud when small things happen so it’s ready when something truly angering happens. As frustrating as the traffic incident might seem at the moment, if you give immediately, the episode will be forgotten very quickly. You will arrive at your destination filled only with the joy of riding. You won’t spend the evening in the hospital or talking to the highway patrol. You will be at your destination, living your life.

If you don’t give, some very ugly things can happen. Yes, you could teach the errant driver a lesson and he or she will never dawdle in the left lane again… But I doubt it. Here are a few of the optional outcomes if you forget “Give to live”:

  1. They swerve into you and you’re down and probably hurt.
  2. After you kick their car, they report your license plate and you pay damages and a ticket—and increased insurance premiums.
  3. They slam on the brakes, catching you in traffic, and tackle you off your bike.
  4. They pull a weapon and shoot at you.
  5. They follow you to your destination with their UFC skills or weapon. I know you might be impressively tough, but just like in roadracing, “There’s always someone faster” can be modified for toughness too.

There are many skills, techniques, outlooks, and practices that separate new riders from veteran riders and “Give to live” is right near the top. The longer you spend behind the handlebars the more clearly you understand the vulnerability of a motorcycle and the stupidity of confronting a car. You learn to give a good, solid wave of apologetic thanks when you alter the flow of traffic. You quit provoking drivers and learn to laugh at the stupidity while staying clear and safe. You let the anger go with the knowledge that the payback is already in play: They’re stuck in a car.