san francisco traffic

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found in its most recent study that 80 percent of drivers said they’d engaged in aggressive driving over the past year and two-thirds of drivers felt aggressive driving was on the rise. We’ll talk with experts about road rage, what it is and how to avoid it.

Related:

Robert Nemerovski: Top Ten Ways to Avoid Road Rage

KRON 4: People Behaving Badly 

KQED Listeners Respond on Facebook (click the comment bubble below to expand):

Honk if You Agree: Road Rage is on the Rise 30 January,2018Michael Krasny

Guests:
John Moreno, spokesperson, AAA Northern California
Robert Nemerovski, clinical psychologist
Stanley Roberts, reporter, KRON 4; host of "People Behaving Badly" news segment

  • jakeleone

    It’s okay cause the Google car is going to have an app for road rage, same as normal road rage except only the guilty get hurt.

    The reality is, not matter how good a driver you think you are, you shouldn’t get into the idea that you can teach people on the road. Sometimes people drive the speed limit in the fast lane you can’t make it a teaching moment on the road.

  • Pontifikate

    I’m really interested to go into the causes. I’ve never seen it so bad and on city streets it’s often the pedestrian or cyclist, without the benefit of a few tons of metal around them, that takes the brunt.

    • Another Mike

      On city streets it is often the cyclist who rides on the wrong side of the street, the cyclist who rides through a red light, the cyclist without lights or even reflectors at night, the cyclist who suddenly changes from riding with traffic to abruptly turning left along a crosswalk, etc. etc., who takes the brunt.

  • Jergy McPhearless

    As an Oakland bicyclist I’ve found many drivers don’t recognize bicyclists as legitimate users of the road and view bike lanes as just another place to drive and park. Just last year while stopped in the bike lane at a stop light, a driver purposely rammed me because he decided I was blocking his way to make a right turn. Having impulsive, emotionally driven creatures like this controlling such dangerous machines is a bad system overall, and I now carry a can of combination tear gas pepper spray for the heated arguments I get into out there on the road. Bring on the self-driving cars!

    • Another Mike

      I don’t know any cyclists who block lanes for right turning cars.

      • Noelle

        me & my husband were cycling across an intersection and a female driver yelled out at him for blocking her right turn. her rage against him was only because it impeded her driving time by seconds!

        • Another Mike

          I’ll see cyclists move over for right turners all the time. They know we’re all trying to get to work. Hopefully there is a right turning bay, allowing cyclists to stay in their own lane.

  • Skip Conrad

    It’s the gas tax. Sorry, transportation improvement fee.
    https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB1

  • Josh Smith

    Not surprised. As we add more and more people to the bay area, traffic worsens, and people become more stressed that it takes longer and longer to reach their destination.

  • EIDALM

    OH, my God, dealing with aggressive unsafe drivers in my short 5 miles drives in the city of Berkeley, specially on the Marine Circle and the Arlington have been near daily nightmare, so many drivers run through stop signs, never give the right way to other drivers, speeding, tailgating, flashing their high beam on against the car ahead, and so on, and is getting worse, and the other sad fact is that many of these aggressive drivers are older folks who should know better…………,So within the last several month there were so many accident on this road including several that resulted in fatalities………The lack of policemen who use to patrol the streets for lack of money plays a major role in the WILD WILD WEST mentality of many today drivers on the road.

  • Mark SF

    Rage seems to be in the water whether it is politics, on the internet or on the road. More people, more cars and more traffic does not help. On top of that more distracted drivers on the phone, trying to follow phone GPS while driving, and texting while driving cause people to drive erratically and dangerously.

  • Noelle

    Too many people and too many cars, and add over-caffeinated drivers it makes people less patient. More people who can should be able to work from home!

    • chriswinter

      I think enough people in America have the wherewithall to do this — meaning personal computers and Internet access — that it could be near universal in urban/suburban areas.

    • e mckay

      I think caffeine does have a lot to do with it. It increases hair-trigger anger and impatience. I’ve noticed this in myself.

  • EIDALM

    In the memory of Berkeley icon and anther Shelley Rideout whose life was cut short when she was called while walking on marked cross walk at 4 way stop sign by a city of Berkeley employee, driving city car, right in the middle of perfectly Sunny day. and the subsequent whitewash by the city, so after long delay the California Highway issued a citation to the driver for failing to give the right of the way to pedestrian, but did not criminally charge her which does not make any sense, as the driver should have been charged with at least vehicular manslaughter, but again it is just another whitewash by California Highway and the city of Berkeley that killed this beautiful lady, Shelley Rideout whose trusted that she could cross the street at a marked crosswalk at 4 way stop sign…………….Very sad and heartbreaking…….Please write to Berkeley mayor and the city council members to have real investigation to seek justice for Shelley Rideout.

  • Curious

    Bay area drivers are the most inconsiderate, selfish, and stupid drivers around. No blinkers; no lights on in the rain; sitting in the fast lane; texting and swerving; pulling trailers at 80 mph in the fast lane; parking taking up 2 bays……

    • Noelle

      yep I really hate the drivers who don’t bother to use the blinkers

  • Another Mike

    New jobs have meant more cars on the road, resulting in traffic nightmares. People are constantly jockeying for microscopic advantages, which breeds resentment in those they pass. To top it off, our local government leaders are “putting roads on diets,” eliminating lanes to make traffic even worse.

  • Elaine Y

    Without a doubt, what drives me MOST nuts (pun intended) are people who drive on the freeway much slower than anyone else yet stay in the fast lanes and don’t pull to the right to let faster cars pass. In fact, many of these drivers almost seem impervious to looking around as they drive. They simply merge onto the freeway move to the lane farthest to the left and stay there until they merge right to exit. This causes other cars have to pull to the right lanes to move around them and all that moving around is dangerous. I’ve even seen some of these “road boulder” drivers not move over for police with sirens on who come up behind them. My hunch is that for some drivers it’s because they don’t know the rules of the road and for others they don’t feel comfortable in their driving skills. I am guilty of flashing my lights to encourage people to move over and maybe giving a dirty look. It really makes me so mad because it is so inconsiderate to other people.

    • jakeleone

      No one should assume that they have the right-of-way because they are the fastest driver. There are many reasons why a reasonable driver might not be able to relinquish the right-of-way, at least for a while, until those reasons are not in the current traffic picture.

      What I have noticed is that people want to go 75-100 miles per hour in the fast lane. The speed limit is supposedly 65, but no one (including me, for obvious reasons) can obey that limit. Much of this will be obviated by self driving cars, where the decision about how fast you can go will be taken away from us.

      Flashing your lights is probably the best thing you can do, if the driver ahead is reasonable, if unreasonable it is the dumbest thing you can do, so you are taking your chances. A reasonable person will merge right as soon as it is safe and reasonable to do so. For example, don’t expect someone who drives according to the law, to merge into the right lane if that lane is blocked or not moving at the speed limit. In those cases you’ll have to wait a little while, that’s just being aware. And if you are not aware or cannot discern, don’t judge.

      Just be aware whether the driver can safely merge to the right lane (they might not be able to, immediately for you, for reason you might no be aware of). In any case never get angry about it, don’t try any retribution such as the “Freeway Salute” or getting in front of them and slowing down below the speed limit for no reason.

      I see people driving 80-120 on 580 everyday, morning and evening. They are taking a huge risk with other people’s lives. It’s a lot easier to notice these guys at night and give them right of way (if safe), in fact I’d like to off the freeway and away from them frankly.

      • Elaine Y

        Please see my response to e mckay above. Just to add: I agree that faster speeds add dangers, especially when the road conditions don’t allow it. Yet when the passing lane is blocked by someone who’s driving slower than the people behind them yet they still won’t move to the right, the maneuvers the people behind them are left taking to get around them are infinitely more likely to cause an accident than if the passing lane was simply left to those who want to pass. It’s a simple rule: pass on the left and slower traffic stay to the right. That’s all.

        • jakeleone

          Totally agree that at normal passing speeds, far safer for slower drivers to move to the right (provided it is safe to move to the right, and it usually is).

      • e mckay

        I agree with you, jakeleone. Well put.

    • e mckay

      I second jakelone’s reply to you. He expresses my feelings very well.

      What first struck me when reading your post is how impatient people can be. People drive so damned fast, way above the speed limit. If someone else has to move into the left lane in order to pass a slower vehicle, often very fast and very impatient drivers will speed up behind them, and then become angry when it takes a moment for the car in front of them to safely pass the vehicle or vehicles to the right. It bothers me that someone who is determined to drive 80 or more mph expects to never have to slow down for someone who will not drive dangerously just to please them.

      We would all be better off we attempted to be more considerate of other people, and strived to be more patient. To say nothing of the benefit to our blood pressure and psyche’s.

      • Elaine Y

        Just to be clear, I (personally) never retaliate to people’s driving, no matter how poor it is. That is morally repugnant to me so please do not think that’s within my realm of possibility. And I assume I speak for a large segment of people out there (especially NPR folks) who are chronically polite but who do nonetheless have their own feelings and reactions. (Note: I do not condone those crazy guys who go 90+ in traffic and dodge in and out of lanes.)

        I agree to many of your points–I just want to reiterate that patience and awareness go BOTH ways. I’m not sure I heard that in your comment. Yes, those of us who want to pass need to continue to be patient and understanding, yet those who drive slower need to increase their awareness of how they are interacting with and affecting others around them and react appropriately. Driving is like a ballet. If everyone knows and obeys the rules of etiquette, things flow with little effort. I believe being an aware, defensive driver is essential for everyone. It was the first rule my father and driving teachers taught me. That’s what I’m promoting.

        • e mckay

          Agreed. Both the faster drivers and the slower drivers need to be aware of what is going on around them.
          I always try to drive safely and courteously, using turn signals always, looking carefully before changing lanes, staying in the appropriate lane, letting people in ahead of me.
          I still think that people who drive fast should have more patience for people ahead of them. Sometimes it takes awhile to pass somebody, especially when it’s a big semi truck – you don’t want to pass the truck and then immediately cut in front of them – you want to give them some space. Same thing when you are passing a line of slower cars. It takes a minute. Some drivers are just very rude and aggressive.

          • Elaine Y

            I completely agree. Patience and awareness is key. And kindness. Reminds me of that quote (Meister Eckhart?), “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” : )

    • maxnord

      I agree, people apparently never learned proper “lane usage.” They use the left lane to cruise in – then pass in the blind spot, using the right lane… what gives?

  • Another Mike

    I only honk the horn when somebody coming from the right is not going to stop.

  • BioMeister

    Two comments:

    1. We have classes and tests on the LAWS for driving, but little about ETIQUETTE. 99% of students would get more out of “How NOT to be an A-hole” than they do out of Algebra

    2. One CAUSE or Road Rage is “Passive-Aggressive” behavior. My LEAST favorite is people who simply sit in the far-left lane going far slower than the ambient flow of traffic. They prevent smooth flow of traffic for considerate drivers, and definitely lead to anger among them.

    • Robert Thomas

      “How NOT to be an A-hole” was once taught at home. But don’t despair. Algebra is now only taught to children of recent immigrants, by private tutors, as it is now agreed that the offspring of more established families are needlessly overburdened by such seventeenth-century pursuits. Plenty of class time should be available for all sorts of comportment instruction.

    • e mckay

      One step towards better etiquette and not being an A-hole would be to refrain from calling people MORONs, as you did above.

      • BioMeister

        Nice comment, idiot.

        • e mckay

          I think you need to take a class in etiquette and how not be an A-hole, lol.

          • BioMeister

            When someone presents themselves as a purported expert and then spreads silly misinformation, I feel that a hyperbolic response is appropriate. Same for Comment-Section trolls.

          • e mckay

            I’m no more a troll than you are. You’re the one who overreacts, rudely calls people names, and then expresses the opinion that other people need to take etiquette lessons and learn how not to be A-holes. I think that’s funny. Look in the mirror, man.

          • BioMeister

            Well, I am an amateur woodworker, among other things, and it’s hard to be sure without a direct examination, but I’m going to guess that the stick you have up your butt is Shagbark Hickory, and at least 24″ long x 2″ diameter.

  • BioMeister

    The MORON Guest keeps up the WRONG terminology. It is not the “Fast Lane” — it is the PASSING LANE. ANY speed is OK if you are passing people or pacing the car in front of you. If you are NOT passing people, you have NO business in the left-most lane at ANY speed!

  • Kurt thialfad

    Mentioning the fact that you don’t know if the other driver has a tire iron or a gun. There are vast cultural differences in California drivers, so you really don’t know what the other driver is thinking. He could be a tourist used to driving in the Phillipines, China, or Norway. He could be a temporary worker, a foreign businessman, a tourist, or an illegal Mexican with no license.
    People from different countries have different driving habits and rules. On an extreme end, American tourists are a huge cause of UK/Ireland accidents, because they are not used to driving on the left side of the road.

    • Another Mike

      The unlicensed Mexican illegal immigrant is more apt to ride a bicycle, especially in the South Bay.

      • Kurt thialfad

        Good point, AM. But you don’t need a license to ride a bicycle.

      • Curious

        “Nearly a million undocumented drivers could be licensed in California by the end of the year.

        Through June 2017, the Department of Motor Vehicles has issued approximately 905,000 driver’s licenses under Assembly Bill 60, the law requiring applicants to prove only their identity and California residency, rather than their legal presence in the state.”

        http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article163623103.html

        And that’s only the ones who bothered to apply.

      • pastramiboy

        you sure?

    • Joffan

      They are also not used to the lane discipline, traffic flow structures, narrow curving roads, and driver expectations of British roads.

      On signalling, specifically, the drilled-in methodology is to LOOK first, then SIGNAL, and only then start to MOVE. Often in America it’s reversed – the move starts, the signal comes on after and it appears only then (if ever) that the driver looks to see if their intended move is going to cause any problems.

      Not that British drivers are perfect, of course. But the system works well even with a small proportion of idiots, and usually the idiots are breaking different rules than the tourists.

      • chriswinter

        Indeed, more than once I’ve seen sarcastic comments to the effect that in America the turn signal most often means, “Ha — I succeeded in making another lane change.”

  • Ben Rawner

    Drivers pulling illegal moves is something that really gets my blood boiling. Illegal Uturns, shoulder driving, and cutting in at the last second seems to be completely ignored by the police.

    • BioMeister

      Law Enforcement is only interested in ONE THING, and that is RAISING MONEY. They set up speed traps and issue citations not to improve safety, but to maximize income. So they are never there when it’s most dangerous, they are there when it’s most convenient to rack up the fines. Indeed, with speed traps they are usually out when driving fast is relatively safe – light traffic, sunny skies, dry roads, etc. At rush hour or on a “dark & stormy night,” when speeding is most dangerous, they are nowhere to be found. Correct that — they are to be found at the doughnut shop, of course.

    • Paulxj

      As we all know certain intersections have high rates of Red-light running or “squeezing” (speeding through intersections well after the crossing lanes have turned Green). When time allows law enforcement could easily raise $500 to $1000+ per hour for their local jurisdictions by issuing citations, easily paying for their time and overhead, and saving lives in the process.

  • Skip Conrad

    Much blame can be placed on our driving infrastructure; poor roads; too many drivers; overpopulation;

  • howdyrich

    I’m curious to know what impact seeing another driver as “other” has on road rage. For example if I see someone with a different political sticker than me. Or they are a different gender, race, age, Etc.

  • William – SF

    Forcing lefties into the right lane … hmmm
    …perhaps we call it the “other left”.

  • Noelle

    then the car companies are adding all these new distracting features in the new cars and I’m sure lots of drivers take their eyes off the road.

  • Another Mike

    Young women drive just as aggressively as young men these days, although they do not favor confrontation.

  • John

    World peace begins with using your turn-signal. It is not feasible to build larger and larger roads, but California could invest in ongoing education all drivers, e.g. road signs to remind people to use turn signals, move over to let people pass, check your mirrors. Also we could stop the majority people texting, web-browsing, etc. while driving overnight by passing legislation that getting caught has the consequence and costs as DUI. Draconian yes, but effective. All of the studies to date indicate driving while using your phone is as bad or worse than driving under the influence.

    • Another Mike

      Every time I see a cyclist use a hand signal, I write it down in my diary.

      • Bill_Woods

        I think I use signals pretty frequently. Hand signals, head signals, position in the lane, etc.

      • chriswinter

        It does seem to be a rare occurrence around here. Once I was driving down University Avenue in Palo Alto. I stopped at a stop sign, intending to go straight. Two women on bikes came up on my right side. Luckily, the second one gave a left-turn signal. I would have assumed they were going straight. It could have been bad.

    • Noelle

      I like that about world peace.

    • Bill_Woods

      Bumper stickers I’ve seen:

      “Visualize using your turn signals.”
      “Using your turn signals is not ‘giving information to the enemy’.”

      • Another Mike

        Thanks to Facebook, we now know everything about an individual except whether they are going to turn left or right.

  • Another Mike

    The cyclist’s take of when passive-aggressive people meet on the road — fascinating.

  • Julie Ann Robertson

    I want to invent clear signals to use while driving per Costanza ex; what’s a signal 4 “I’m sorry” 4 when 1 inadvertently cuts another off or something similar? And one for “ThankU” when a driver does something polite on the road? Let’s come up w/ them and help them go viral.

  • Julie Ann Robertson

    Being able to quickly and clearly signal “I’m sorry” would help de-escalate a road-rage reaction.

  • Noelle

    so much for Uber & Lyft being the solution to traffic problems….

  • William – SF

    CA used to have signs saying “Drive Courteously”
    Now there’s a president that’s an online bully. (FLOTUS Melania’s cause is combating online bullying …)

  • William – SF

    Golf analogy is flawed … nearly every round of golf is compromised by slow golfers, and golfers that don’t let you play through.

  • Another Mike

    Reminded me: A police car used to be unmistakable, even at night. But the shift to dark SUVs means that police cars look like any other SUV at night. So practice being a model motorist whenever you see a dark SUV.

  • Another Mike

    That’s the problem with cyclists — they are completely unpredictable.

    • e mckay

      And motorists are always predictable? It would help if drivers would use their turn signals, and think ahead and look before changing lanes or turning.

      • Another Mike

        It would help if cyclists would always ride with traffic, yield to existing traffic, and obey traffic signals.

        • e mckay

          Yes, it would. Some cyclists do all of that.
          That said, we are all human. We all make mistakes at times. It would be best if everybody would be aware when they are driving/biking, pay attention, be careful, and be courteous. Wouldn’t that be great?

  • 1PeterDuMont2STARALLIANCE8

    In 1991 I tried experimenting with the attitude of projecting “universal good will.” One of the first practical effects on my life was that irritations caused by other drivers would automatically be recalibrated for more charitable, less judgmental interpretations of their intentions, happily making it much easier on me as well.

    Based on this experience, I would recommend to all drivers experimenting with this attitude: Try “universal good will,” and see if it doesn’t reflect back on to you!

    • e mckay

      Wise words. Thank you.

  • Julie Ann Robertson

    Perhaps a call or note from an “expert” to the TX company creating antagonistic signals suggesting more altruistic signals would make them a hero in minimizing road rage rather than escalating it.

  • And

    We need a way to report aggressive drivers like Colorado has. If too many people report your license plate, the State police will come visit you and can also take legal action. https://www.colorado.gov/pac…/csp/report-aggressive-driver

  • jakeleone

    I guess my number one peave on the road, is when you signal to move out of the way of someone, or to go left-or-right, or when just completing a left turn, and person behind you speeds around you (dangerously if you are making a contingent for this to happen) and occupies the lane you are entering. I mean it happens a lot. I haven’t had an accident because of it, but if you see a person signaling to enter a lane, especially to get out of your way, can you wait 5s to let the person complete the lane change before zooming from behind them (often both cars going the same speed initially) occupying that lane as a dangerous way to get clear of the car you were formerly tailing?

    Sometimes it takes 5 (or more seconds) with 2-3 good looks to know if you can safely enter an adjoining lane. And I know that has to seem like forever for someone in a hurry, who may already be very upset with speed or that you obstruct them. But lane are changes are very dangerious.

    I know that when speeding or going substantially faster than the adjoining lane, such lane changes are actually a little safer. But I think also aggressive drivers use that tactic a lot and probably don’t realize that the rest of us mortals recognize the only assured safe maneuver is get close to the speed of the adjoining traffic before enter the lane (which may well be slower).

  • maxnord

    The exorbitant cost of my AAA insurance gives me road rage!

Host

Michael Krasny

Michael Krasny, PhD, has been in broadcast journalism since 1983. He was with ABC in both radio and television and migrated to public broadcasting in 1993. He has been Professor of English at San Francisco State University and also taught at Stanford, the University of San Francisco and the University of California, as well as in the Fulbright International Institutes. A veteran interviewer for the nationally broadcast City Arts and Lectures, he is the author of a number of books, including “Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life” (Stanford University Press) “Spiritual Envy” (New World); “Sound Ideas” (with M.E. Sokolik/ McGraw-Hill); “Let There Be Laughter” (Harper-Collins) as well as the twenty-four lecture series in DVD, audio and book, “Short Story Masterpieces” (The Teaching Company). He has interviewed many of the world’s leading political, cultural, literary, science and technology figures, as well as major figures from the world of entertainment. He is the recipient of many awards and honors including the S.Y. Agnon Medal for Intellectual Achievement; The Eugene Block Award for Human Rights Journalism; the James Madison Freedom of Information Award; the Excellence in Journalism Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association; Career Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists and an award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association. He holds a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. from Ohio University and a PhD from the University of Wisconsin.

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