Road Rage: Don’t Accept It

Florida’s streets are the most dangerous in the country – for people out walking their dogs, bicycling to work or driving to meet friends. Streets constitute as much as 80% of our public space. Our local economies and quality of life depends on these streets’ regular maintenance and proper design. Unfortunately for our wallets and our safety, the exceptionally high rate of injury for people using them is out of control. 3 out of every 100,000 South Florida residents died while walking down the street in 2008. Car on car collisions killed 694 in our three counties. Positively, in 2009, Florida traffic fatalities decreased on Florida’s state roads. Only 100 (compared to 118) bicyclists were killed. This is a 15% decrease. This is NOT ENOUGH. Our streets are still too dangerous and unless we talk about it, take action on it, Florida will remain #1.

It is not tourists or old people, immigrants or kids that make our streets the worst in the nation; it is a culture of speed and fear coupled with lack of law enforcement. Driving in South Florida is scary. How many of you have not been in an collision of some kind? How many of you have not seen another speed through a red light, apparently unaware of the intersection? How many of you have not witnessed a fender bender, a drunk person behind the wheel or someone with both tail lights out?

Distracted, drunken, aggressive, illegal driving are all commonplace here. Police seem to be focused on bigger or worse crimes but this driving behavior is spawning another increasing trend: Road Rage.

Greater Miami's in the Top Ten!

Road rage is not distracted or aggressive driving. Road rage happens when someone becomes so unhinged that threatening to kill another person and/or attempting to harm another with a deadly weapon (typically one’s car) feels normal, justified and okay.

Separate Crash, Worse Ending

In West Miami last Friday, a lone man on a bicycle was suddenly threatened from behind by a motorist yelling, “I’m going to run over you with my car.” The impact sent our friend to the curb and his bicycle under the car. The speeding motorist tried to flee, but the bicycle had become a crumpled steel wedge preventing the car from going anywhere. The police officer who came to the scene said, “It’s your word against his,” and no charges were filed.

Just outside of Boca this weekend, a motorist repeatedly tried to “brake check” a group of weekend riders from ahead of them. At a stop light, one of the cyclists told him he was going to be reported to the police. The motorist cursed and proceeded to run over the front of the bicycle with the man still on it. Again, police on the scene said, “It’s your word against his,” and no charges were filed. The cyclists were told that the best way to resolve the problem was to stop riding.

One of you who struggles with your own road rage tells me you yell “Learn the Law!” when a motorist beeps or passes you too closely. I’ve been doing just that – but it feels trite after a weekend like this.

As we know, even when ‘important’ people get hit, it seems too challenging for police to blame the motorist. When the son of an ex-governor was run over in a crosswalk, it was easy to pity the motorist who wasn’t paying attention. She didn’t intentionally not look where she was going and everyone who knows her says she’s a great person. Still, can you believe that she didn’t even get a ticket?

Whether you take to the road by bicycle or car, reducing traffic speeds and building bicycle infrastructure increases your likelihood of surviving a regular trip anywhere. You are worth it.

The South Florida Bike Coalition is working with individuals and groups across our region and the state to organize gatherings of people on foot, on bicycle and in cars to demonstrate our shared support for better, increased traffic law enforcement. Together, we are putting a face on the people and families that dangerous driving and road rage are putting at risk. You do not have to tolerate road rage or accept it as a part of living in South Florida.

Comment here and join us. What are your suggestions for a successful response? Ride safely, South Florida.

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About Kathryn Moore / South Florida Bike Coalition

I'm the President of the South Florida Bike Coalition - a 100% volunteer organization of people dedicated to using their skills and experience to effect more, better bicycling from the Keys to Martin County.

10 thoughts on “Road Rage: Don’t Accept It

  1. Excellent post. I was unaware of such serious figures. It’s quite frightening and appalling to read these statistics that which take place in our own community.

    The tolerant attitude that police officers display basically condones this behavior, allowing motorists to continue their foolish/senseless/dangerous actions.

    Thank you so much for sharing this info KM. I look forward to following your blog.

    • Ellen, we understand that it was West Miami PD – but this is by no means a unique characteristic to that department. Furthermore, the actions of one officer do not necessarily speak for an entire department. That said, we are scared and concerned, too. It could have been any one of us. The man on the bicycle is fortunate to be alive.

  2. Pingback: Colorado’s Dan Maes keeps his tinfoil hat in the ring; things you see when you’re riding « BikingInLA

  3. There are two great columns by Bob Mionske on road rage in Bicycling magazine:

    http://bicycling.com/blogs/roadrights/2009/07/23/what-is-road-rage/
    http://bicycling.com/blogs/roadrights/2009/07/30/how-should-you-respond-to-road-rage/

    His advice boils down to:
    1. Refuse to engage in conflict.
    2. Get contact information for witnesses, document the incident with photos, and report what happened to law enforcement.
    3. If you are under physical attack or an attack is imminent you are entitled to defend yourself but do not give away your legal rights or the moral high ground by giving in to violence.
    4. Be an ambassador for cycling with non-cyclists, drivers, pedestrians and law enforcement.

    Although every incident is different, you should imagine in advance how you might respond if you are ever the victim of road rage so you can act effectively.

  4. you think that is bad, my son was a road rage victim, the man remained at the scene of the crash, admitted to troopers that he was trying to teach him a lesson and as my son was being put into an ambulance the trooper let the man drive away!!!

  5. Pingback: Repost: Responding to Road Rage | Best Miami News

  6. Pingback: Man Speeds Around Bus, Hits Elderly Man on Sidewalk, Runs | Transit Miami

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