This episode covers all things R O A D R A G E ! Troy and Connor discuss ways to deal with aggressive drivers and road rage, featuring some great interviews along the way. We’ll hear from Mike Moschinski, Vice President of Trainco Truck Driving Schools, Jim Reed and Gary Halbleib of Wenger Feeds, as well as Graham Cox-Holmes, MA of Life and Love Counseling on the different approaches to road rage. Listen in and feel your rage just melt away…
Trucker Tips for Road Rage – Big Rig Banter Ep. 13 – Full Transcript
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Connor: Hello, and welcome. This is the 13th episode of BigRigBanter. Today’s date is March 7th, 2018, and this episode is all about March madness and road rage. I’m your co-host, Connor Smith.
Troy: And I’m your co-host, Troy Diffenderfer. And that’s right, folks, today we’re talking about March madness, and I’m not talking about college basketball. While I do hope your brackets remain intact, we’re talking about road rage. It’s something all you truckers are dealing with while on the road, and we’ve got a lot of great guests today. We’re going to be talking to a licensed therapist that covers anger management, as well as a vice president of a major trucking school that includes road rage within the curriculum. And we’re going to talk to an actual trucker who will tell you what it’s like being on the road and how to remain calm.
Connor: But first, we’re going to get into some news topics.
Connor: Alright, so our first news topic for today is covering some very common topics that we usually talk about on this show, that being self-driving trucks and ELDs. Troy, I realize you have an article detailing a unique perspective on these subjects, is that right?
Troy: Yeah, that’s right. I came across this article on FreightWaves.com that offers a pro self-driving truck argument. I know we talk to truckers a lot, and many of them are afraid that these self-driving trucks are going to take their jobs. We’ve talked about it in a past podcast episode, so if you want to hear more, obviously take a look at that, but this article was interesting. It talks about the higher freight costs and the rise in inflation, and it’s putting trucking companies in a tight situation. The fact is, employers can’t find enough drivers, at least at the wages that companies want to pay, and this is a huge deal. I think we’ve been given this narrative that this will mean the death of the trucker, and we’ve seen all these studies that it’ll cause major shortages, millions of jobs taken over from automated trucks within the next few decades, and that might not be the truth. The fact of the matter is, it’s hopefully gong to bridge the gap of this driver shortage, and they make a lot of great points that it’ll decrease the amount that trucking companies have to spend hauling, and in turn, will hopefully decrease the price of the products that they’re hauling, and it could really help the economy as a whole. So I think it’s important to remember that these automated trucks might not be as bad as we think, and they could definitely help the trucking industry and could help current truckers, as far as wages and off setting that driver shortage. Connor, I know you have an article as well that took a unique perspective on a major trucking issue.
Connor: Yep, that’s right. Our next piece is going to be talking about an issue that we’ve covered on this show before, and that’s human trafficking. Recently, Truckers Against Trafficking has worked together with lots of other organizations, namely Demand Abolition Business Ending Slavery and Trafficking, ATA’s America’s Road Team, UPS, and Walmart to launch what’s called the Man to Man Campaign. This campaign is founded on the belief that if there were no demand for commercial sex, then sex trafficking would not exist. Truckers Against Trafficking deputy director Kyla Lanier said, “at the very root of the sex trafficking and sexual exploitation epidemic sweeping our nation and world is the demand. The prostituted person and, more recently, the traffickers, have become the focus of attention and arrest, while the buyer goes home with a warning. This must change. When all is said and done, if there’s no buyer there would be no victim.”
Troy: Yeah, that’s right, and if Truckers Against Trafficking sounds familiar, that’s because we were lucky enough to have Beth Jacobs on the show in a previous episode, and she told her personal human trafficking story, and it was a great insight into the world of human trafficking, and you should definitely give that a listen. In the show notes, we’ll make sure to have a link to that episode.
Connor: Absolutely! And so, the overall goal of the Man to Man Campaign is really to highlight drivers who advocate strongly against, and keep an eye out for, trafficking, featuring them on websites, social media pages, and on banners at speaking engagements throughout the country. And, you know, they’re trying to really bring awareness to this subject with their new campaign, especially with everyone that they’re working together with, the other organizations I mentioned like Demand Abolition, they’re providing lots of up-to-date information on this epidemic, national survey results, and things to help people gain a perspective on just how important of an issue this is. It’s kind of one of those things that you don’t see in the surface world of trucking, but it definitely exists, and like I said, generating awareness about it is important. So if you guys get a chance, all of our listeners go ahead and follow Truckers Against Trafficking on Twitter and check out their website. You can join the movement #ManToManCampaign, and just see all the great resources that they have for people either who have experienced sex trafficking in the past, or have encountered these sorts of situations on the road. They have a lot of great resources for you, so head over there. And we know it’s a very sensitive subject and it can get people really fired up. But that’s all we’ve got for the news topics today, so we’re gonna head into our main topic section for the episode, and that’s road rage, March Madness, and everything to do with aggressive driving, the consequences, ways to deal with it, and what it looks like on the road. So, Troy, can you get us started here and just sort of give a basic overview of what road rage and aggressive driving are?
Troy: Yeah, so they are different. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, road rage is the act of causing harm to a person or vehicle while on the road. The act can occur with a vehicle or any other weapon. It also includes any acts of violence performed by a passenger in the vehicle. So it’s both the driver and the passenger, and on the other hand, aggressive driving is simply just using your vehicle aggressively on the road. You might not necessarily be causing harm, but you’re putting both yourself and the people on the road with you in harm’s way. And then, some common examples of road rage include blocking drivers from changing lanes, purposefully running them off the road, or using weapons to cause harm to a person or vehicle. Unfortunately, road rage is more common than you would think. Connor, tell us some road rage statistics.
Connor: Absolutely. So, 80% of drivers actually admit to experiencing some type of road rage throughout the course of a year, and when you think about how many people are driving every day, that’s an enormous amount of road rage taking place. Additionally, at least 8 million people engage in some type of road rage each year, so whether they’re the perpetrator or not, there’s a road rage epidemic in this country apparently. And, you know, a lot of the habits that have been recorded are pretty alarming as well. Like you mentioned earlier, people often try to ram their cars from behind into other drivers, they confront drivers on foot by getting out of the car, and an additional statistic shows that men are actually three times as likely to get out of their car and fight each other during these road rage incidents.
Troy: Yeah, and we might mention it later, and if we don’t we’ll definitely include the links in the notes, but there’s a ton of horror stories out there of people dying from road rage or people being seriously injured, whether it’s via a weapon like getting shot or simply being run off the road. So that’s definitely something to keep in mind. We’re not going to go into too much detail, but just remember that road rage can escalate, and it can lead to some serious consequences.
Connor: that’s right. In terms of the law, aggressive driving is a traffic violation whereas road rage is a criminal offense, so that’s kind of the main difference there. It’s one thing to kind of position your vehicle in a way that makes it extremely inconvenient for other drivers, but it’s another thing to actually go out of your way to try to harm somebody with either your vehicle or a weapon. So yeah, just keep that in mind, especially from the perspective of a trucker. You guys see a lot of interesting stuff on the road, and so it’s important to be aware of the differences between whether it’s aggressive driving, just reckless driving, or road rage and, you know, what that looks like. And so, we sat down with a driver from Dutchland Farms to get a perspective on their experience with road rage. Here’s that interview.
Zach: Hey guys! I got Jim here and Gary. You guys want introduce yourselves real quick?
Jim: Sure! My name is Jim Reed. I’m the training and development coordinator here with WFM Transport, part of the Wenger Group. I’ve been with the company about 28 years, and my job is basically involved with hiring new drivers, and then making sure they’re trained to the point where they can do the job safely and correctly, and it takes about a two week process to do that. But yeah, my job is getting guys onboarded and off and running.
Gary: I’m Gary. I’m a truck driver here at Wenger’s. I’ve been driving for 31 years. Basically, I just load the truck, drive it to deliver it to the farm, and bring it back for the next load. Basically I’m a truck driver here.
Troy: Awesome! So, Gary, have you had any first-hand experiences with road rage, whether it’s someone driving aggressively, or maybe someone cutting you off? Can you tell me kind of any incidents that you’ve maybe had within your time driving?
Gary: The only time I’ve ever had was people that would come up behind me, I guess they get a little antsy, you know, driving too slow or whatever. They come around things like – a lot of times they’ll blow their horn at you or, you know, they give you the number one finger…stuff like that. But for the most part, no, I don’t have really any road rage incidents and stuff like that.
Troy: Tell us what it’s like maneuvering these big rigs. I think that’s one thing that pedestrians don’t really know is just, I mean, you can’t brake like a normal vehicle and you’re carrying these heavy loads and, in your case, something fragile like eggs or other produce. How big of an issue is that just the sheer size of the rig and maneuvering it?
Gary: It’s challenging sometimes. It all depends on the weather conditions and everything. You come up on somebody that’s going too slow, you have to put the brakes on. For the most part it’s…I don’t want to say it’s easy, but it is definitely a challenge sometimes, especially with the weather, with the, I call them four-wheelers, they come up behind you, or a five tail will turn out in front of you…stuff like that. But for the most part, once you know your truck and know how to do it, it’s not that hard. I don’t want to say hard…it’s not that difficult after you get to know your vehicle.
Connor: And so is there anything that really “grinds your gears” and maybe things that you wish passenger cars knew about trucks, maybe some pointers you could just tell the public?
Jim: I think a lot of people don’t understand that these roads that we maneuver and work with weren’t designed for tractor-trailers. Some of these roads were, you know, way back in the early 1900s, and now we’re still dealing with them right now, and a lot of people don’t understand how much space it takes to maneuver these things around. Like Gary said, it’s very challenging at times. They try to give you enough room with the lines on the road, but a lot of drivers don’t understand what those lines mean. So, we have to deal with a lot of, I wouldn’t say stupidity, but ignorance out there as far as what it takes to maneuver these tractor trailers in some of these really tight situations.
Troy: And this question’s for either of you, I know whether it’s schooling or just working for different companies, how do you respond to aggressive driving or how are you taught to respond to aggressive driving while on the road?
Gary: I usually try to back off. I try to get distance between me, and whoever the aggressor is. A lot of times they’ll take off, but every now and then you get one that wants to agitate you, and for the most part I just back off. “Just do your thing, bud. Just let me alone and I’ll go on my way.” But for the most part it’s one of those things where you’re damned if you, do damned if you don’t.
Jim: Sometimes you feel like you never make the right decision.
Jim: They’re always going to be upset with you no matter what.
Gary: Yeah, regardless of what you do, there’s always going to be somebody that’s ticked off, or they’re going to either be more aggressive or, for the most part, I go “okay, buddy, just have your space,” and I back off. You can ease off the gas and just do your thing and I’ll do my thing.
Jim: As a trainer, we teach our drivers the Smith System. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that system.
Connor: No, we’re not.
Jim: Okay, it’s like a space awareness course. It’s not really a driving course, but it’s being more observant and allowing yourself more space around your vehicle when possible. Just to be more alert like checking mirrors, giving yourself good following distance, those kinds of things. But the driver can do all he can to follow those principles, but then you have these cars that, you know, they want to invade your space all the time, and it seems like they don’t understand what we’re trying to do. I understand that, but we’re the professionals, and so I train our guys to remember that. We are the professionals, and we need to be the ones to kind of give ground when there’s an aggressive driver out there, because they just seem to always be in a hurry. It doesn’t matter where you are, what time of day or night…it seems like drivers in general, not truck drivers, but automobile drivers just seem to be in a hurry no matter what time of day or night, and so we just have to remember that we have to be the professionals out there.
Troy: Yeah, and just to go off that, do either of you notice a time of year or time of week when road rage is the worst? I know rush hour’s often stressful, but I wasn’t sure if there’s a specific time of year or time of day that you notice drivers driving more aggressively.
Jim: Good question, and I’ve thought about that. At least for me, and then I’ll let Gary answer, I just find that it’s just generally all the time. People are just always in a hurry; they don’t want to give you any ground at all. They’ll do whatever they have to do to get in front of you and not to be behind you. That can be very frustrating because you know when they’re behind you, they’re always looking for that opportunity to get past you. You know what’s going to happen, where you’re coming up on an intersection, you know that people are going to try to turn before you get there because they don’t want to wait, not even 15 seconds to let you pass before they try to make their turn. Everybody just seems to be a “me first” attitude out there. Is that what you see too, Gary?
Gary: I agree 100%. It seems like every time you give them space, they want more space, or if you back off, it seems like they want more and more and more. It’s like it’s all about them and forget everybody else, and I see this all year on. It doesn’t matter what season it is, what hour of the day it is, I’ve seen it 24/7 so to speak.
Jim: Yeah, pretty much.
Gary: It’s one of those things that if you’re not prepared for something out of the blue, here is where the accident and all the carnage, so to speak, comes into play. If you’re not paying attention for people like this, this is what happens. But I see it year-round, 24/7.
Jim: There’s something else too. People don’t realize how long it takes to stop one of these rigs. I mean, they’re going down the road at 80,000 pounds plus. It takes about nine seconds to ten seconds to stop one of these things at sixty miles an hour down to about maybe 10 or 11 miles per hour. That’s part of the problem. They don’t realize that, and also, I guess they think we can stop on a dime, so pulling out in front of one of these things, they don’t realize the amount of weight and the amount of damage that can occur just by one of these trucks hitting a car. We’ve seen too many incidents like that, and it’s sad what happens, but I think it’s a lack of understanding of what it takes.
Connor: Absolutely, yeah. Well, guys, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us. It’s a lot of great information, and we hope you can stay safe out there on the roads. Is there anything you’d like our listeners to know about your company?
Jim: Well sure! We are one of the bigger feed companies in the mid-Atlantic region. We have seven different locations. We have a location in Matthew, Maryland; here at Mount Joy in Rheems; one in Hempfield in the Lancaster area; another in the Shippensburg Area; Spring Glen which is upper Dauphin County; and one up near Muncie, Pennsylvania. And we have about 109 drivers, we have about 60 units that we operate regularly, and we are actually looking for drivers right now. We have seven positions available here in this location Rheems, Mount Joy, but also in the Spring Glen and Muncie area we’re looking for some drivers. Great opportunity to be home every day, a very good pay package, good benefits package…we have a lot to offer here. It’s a family-run business. We have really good, solid core values, and we treat our team members with a lot of respect. I don’t know, Gary, want to add anything to that?
Gary: It’s true, I’ve been here 31 years in the business and I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. They treat their employees top-notch.
Connor: Well, fantastic! Thanks so much for coming on the show. We appreciate your guys’s time, and hope you can have a good and safe weekend.
Jim: Well thank you for the opportunity, we appreciate it!
Connor: Alright so there you have it, a lot of great information there. You know, it’s good to just reiterate the consequences of road rage and, you know, everything can happen so quickly. You may not have much time to think, but it’s still good to remember the outcome of engaging in road rage, or if you’re just a bystander to road rage and kind of the way you can react. So I mean, first off, you obviously have the potential damage to your vehicle or your physical person and/or death. And so, right off the bat, you don’t have much to gain, you know we’ll just say that, from engaging in road rage. You could, but ultimately it’s a pretty miniscule interaction in comparison to the rest of your life and your career as a trucker. So, you know, obviously the consequences can often include jail time, probation, mandatory anger-management classes which we’ll talk about later in the program, and hefty fines among other penalties, and of course just losing your job. So, you know, if you’re serious about trucking and maintaining your professional standing in the transportation industry, road rage is nothing to engage with, nothing to partake in at anytime really. So, Troy, why don’t you go over some basic strategies that truckers can consider in regard to road rage?
Troy: Yeah! For you truckers out there, of course the number one rule is just to control your anger. I know it’s tough to do, everyone kind of has a lapse in judgment or a lapse in holding back that emotion, but that’s the most important thing is to realize that everyone’s just trying to get to where they’re going, and that you should really just take a deep breath and relax, especially if something rough happens on the road. Don’t take these traffic problems personally; I’m sure they are not specifically out to get you. Sometimes things just happen, and unfortunately sometimes they happen to us, and that’s something you should think about; things just happen like this. Avoid making eye contact with an aggressive driver. That can often set people off. Sometimes you just need to stare straight ahead and pretend it didn’t happen, and just keep on your way. Also, I know you want to give that one finger salute, but you shouldn’t make any obscene gestures towards them. That’s only going to stir the pot, and really nothing good can come from it. Similar, do not tailgate them. Anything to aggravate them more is often frowned upon. It’s only going to escalate the situation, and it’s never going to turn out better for you. To go along with that, use your horn sparingly. Even a polite honk can be misinterpreted, so unless you really feel like you need to lay on the horn, try to refrain from it. Again, if you’re driving, don’t block the passing lane or don’t block the right turn lane. That can often aggravate people as well. And these are all things that a lot of new drivers are going to be learning and things you should learn before you even get on the road. We were lucky to sit down with Mike Moscinski, vice president of Trainco trucking schools, and here’s what he had to say about teaching strategies to deal with road rage and aggressive driving within the school curriculum.
Connor: Alright, so we’re here with Mike Moscinski, vice president of Trainco Truck Driving Schools. Mike, thanks so much for coming on the show.
Mike: You’re welcome! Glad to be here.
Connor: So, this episode is about aggressive driving and road rage, and we figured it would be best to kind of get back to the source and ask somebody who’s instructing new drivers on the best practices for this. So, what is one of the biggest aggravators that you see on the road, particularly for truckers?
Mike: Well, I feel it comes down to probably about three. I narrowed down to the top three; number one being is that a lot of times, a lot of people will cut a truck driver off. Sometimes they do it unintentionally; they’re unaware that they’re cutting the driver off, but in their hurry to get around a big truck and to get to their exit, they oftentimes will pass us and then cut right back in front of us to get off at the next exit or to get around us just so they can see better, only to come to a red light and jam on the brakes. And so, when we get cut off, our big response is that we have to slow down as well, and sometimes can’t stop because we are much larger and heavier, and I think that being cut off is one of our bigger agitators. Our second one is probably when automobile drivers hang out in our blind spots where they’re difficult for us to see and keep track of, and they want to continue to ride in that blind area. And our third one is what some people would call like a “soft merge” or an “indecisive merge.” A lot of people come onto the freeway and there are a little bit indecisive, and sometimes a truck driver cannot move to the left to give them more room to get on, and they’ll be kind of indecisive about whether or not they’re going to come in and merge with traffic and then get the speed all slowed down and then jam it all up that way. So those are probably our top three agitators for a truck driver.
Troy: and mike how should truckers respond to this aggressive driving and I’m talking about when other drivers on the road are driving erratically and cutting people off like you’ve described.
Mike: Well that’s a very good question. Our human nature wants to get really mad and frustrated and upset and blow on the horn. That is not the reaction that we as professionals should be doing. We need to be very passive about that. We need to be aware that cars are doing this all the time, and we need to expect that. So, the answer is not to lay on the air horn and scare the heck out of them and just agitate them, which just escalates the situation. The answer really is to just be aware that these things are going to be happening, to anticipate them, and to expect them, and then just simply go on about your way and don’t get worked up about it. So, we like to say be passive, the best you can do is wave, and that’s with all five fingers not just one, and then also promote. Truck drivers have a voice, and they have families, they have friends, and when they’re out there talking to them, they need to educate them in a calm way as well. You know, let them know what the concerns are and what the problems are, but not out of the corner of anger and frustration, but out of the corner of teaching. I think if we do that those things will help us.
Connor: Absolutely! Speaking about teaching, how is a road rage and aggressive driving included in Trainco’s curriculum?
Mike: Well, we do forty hours of classroom curriculum that covers a wide range of topics, and road rage is one of them. We spend probably thirty to forty five minutes on that topic, and we talk about the things that again, like we talked about, being anticipatory of what’s going to happen out there, and if you know that it’s going to happen or you guys expect that it’s going to happen, it takes away a lot of that frustration. Then we talk about things to handle the road rage. Number one, think about putting yourself in their shoes. That maybe, possibly they’re in a hurry, or that possibly they’re on their way to see a sick relative that’s maybe been in a tragic accident, who knows what? So you need to walk your way through some of those things mentally before you just get out there and start waving your fists and, you know, cussing them out and doing other things that may be escalating a bad situation.
Troy: Yeah, and I’m sure you’ve seen on the news some of the worst-case scenarios of road rage, but do you think some of the punishments are too strict or too loose for a road rage incident? I don’t know if you’ve ever dealt with it personally, or had people graduate from the company that have dealt with these road rage laws and incidents?
Mike: That’s a very tough call there, as to what is the right, proper punishment. I think each situation is a different situation. I think we as average Americans, we hear only the ones that make the news, that have hit the market or the media in a big way, and everybody races to make judgment and those things based on, you know, 10 seconds or 5 seconds of clip, or one person’s perspective. And I think that the only way to solve that is to let the courts work through that. I know that when road rage happens to you and you’re in that situation, you want as much judgment passed on them as they possibly can. But I think that, you know, cooler heads prevail, and I don’t know exactly what the right call is for what is too much and what is not enough, but I guess that’s what the courts are for.
Connor: Absolutely, yeah, totally agree. From a trucker’s perspective, what do you think one thing is that drivers wish pedestrians knew about their rigs and the way that they drive?
Mike: Well, number one, be aware that we’re out there. Sometimes we see pedestrians and even to pedestrians to think of foot traffic and bicyclists, and I feel like they think that we may not even be around. You have people walking around on their phones, texting and looking down, not even looking up, or they’re even walking with headphones or ear buds in their ear listening to music. So, one, just be aware that we exist and we’re out there, and that they’re moving around in an environment that bad things can happen. On a more of a mechanical side or physics side is that, yes, big trucks do not stop like a car, so they need to look a little bit further and have a much larger gap if they’re, say, crossing the street. Give wider space for us. I mean, just walking on a sidewalk, I mean, nobody wants to get sprayed with a bunch of water, but when 80,000 pounds goes through a mud puddle, its going to throw it a little further than a car might. So, be aware of those things and, you know, if you’re walking on a rainy day like today, you may want take the outside edge of the sidewalk, not the inside edge, and just step back from the curb. I mean, a lot of times you see pedestrians run across the street. Man, they have their toe maybe an inch off the street, and the truck’s going to need almost every inch of that to make the corner, so if they could just simply step back. They don’t need to be right on the road to wait to cross the cross the street. I mean, a couple of feet should do it. So, one, just be aware and that, yes, we don’t stop as much, we take wide turns, we don’t take off as fast as a car, so you have to be patient with us and we’ll try to be patient with them as well.
Troy: Do you notice a time of year or week or day when road rage is worse than other days?
Mike: Yeah, I would say that road rage has no time, no date or time to it. I think that road rage comes out of our hurriedness. We are a very fast-paced society. We are always doing more things than we probably budget time to do, and I think that hurriedness and the itch to get more and more done in a day causes us sometimes to be behind schedule. And when we’re in a hurry, we tend to make poor decisions, both as drivers and truck drivers, and those things cause frustration for others, and maybe even for ourselves, and I think out of that frustration, that’s where it leads to even more mistakes and leads to rage. So, I think if we just step back and breathe a little bit and take our time a little bit more, plan all of our activities out, I think that that gives people a chance to just pace themselves at a pace that it happens a little easier. I think that keeps us out of trouble.
Troy: Alright, Mike, well I appreciate you coming on the show. Is there anything you’d like to let our listeners know?
Mike: No, we just want everybody to be safe out there and do the best that they can. If everybody does their part, I think we’ll all get to our destinations and we’ll be great.
Connor: Absolutely! Well, Mike, thanks so much for coming on the show and sharing all that great information with us. Hopefully we can keep people safer and start to spread awareness about ways to deal with the road rage, and what truckers and pedestrians can do to both play their parts. So, thanks again!
Mike: Yeah, you’re welcome! Thanks for having us.
Connor: Alright and once again, a big thanks to Mike Moscinski, vice-president of Trainco Trucking Schools. A lot of really important information to hit on there and hopefully, if there are any young drivers or new drivers listening, take that advice to heart, and really try to prepare yourself for encountering road rage and aggressive driving on the road. To go off of that, I recently wrote a blog that is on our AllTruckJobs website entitled “Five Ways to Deal with Road Rage” so if you want any more resources, go check that blog out. We’ll have a link in the description of this video or podcast below. So, you can’t always control what other drivers are doing, and it’s hard to sometimes plan out how exactly you’re going to react to certain things. If you know yourself to have anger problems or issues controlling your emotions, it might be recommended to you, whether through your own company or just in your personal life, to schedule sessions with a licensed therapist or an anger management professional.
Troy: Yeah, that’s right! You can’t control things on the road, but you can control your emotions, or at least try to control your emotions. Luckily enough, we were able to talk with Graham from Life and Love Counseling who provided some tips on how to manage your emotion while on the road, so let’s here at Graham had to say.
Connor: Alright, we’re here with Graham Cox-Holmes from Life and Love Counseling right here in Lancaster, PA. He’s an outpatient psychotherapist here to talk to us about road rage. Graham, thanks for coming on the show.
Graham: How you doing? Thanks for having me.
Connor: Doing well, doing well. So really, I guess what we want to know is, why do you think issues on the road trigger us so easily?
Graham: So that’s a pretty complex question. I’m just gonna give you a simple answer, you know, I think we’ll go on and explain that later and hopefully we get to the bottom of that, but issues on the road trigger that’s so easily, just really because we’re not aware, necessarily. When we’re getting in our cars, you know, when we’re driving, we’re not aware of how we’re feeling, we’re not aware of what our thoughts are, we kind of check out and use the road as an opportunity of just kind of an A to B kind of process.
Troy: Can this anger stem from things outside the vehicle? Do you think it’s a case that people kind of bring their outside issues and turmoil into the vehicle with them?
Graham: Yeah, I definitely think that our anger does stem from outside the vehicle. Anger is usually a symptom, you know, a symptom of something else. Kind of like sneezing or coughing is to a cold. And so, whenever we become angry, we really have to kind of identify where this is coming from, you know? So road rage is usually the result of our not being emotionally aware, not being ready for what happens to us on the road.
Connor: And so, how do you think a driver can try to “leave it on the road”? Basically, how can someone separate their emotions from their professional work that they need to accomplish?
Graham: Probably the best way to leave our anger on the road is, before we get out of the vehicle, to take a few minutes and get centered. You know, do a couple of deep breathing or relaxation techniques, be aware of our emotional level. If we’re angry, it’d be good to get back to center before we go and engage in relationships with other people, you know, get out of the car and go to work, go meet with our families, because if our anger is left unresolved, if we’re angry about something on their road, then chances are we’re probably going to carry that on to our next situation.
Troy: And what are some basic techniques a driver can use to help with road rage? What are some calming techniques that they can implement?
Graham: Probably one of most effective strategies, and this is a term that gets thrown around a lot, is called mindfulness, right? And mindfulness can really be broken down into a number of different practices. There are a few that are really proven to be effective, and that would be deep breathing, that would be, there’s something called “enhanced personal awareness,” and that is taking some time to kind of catalog and inventory, “Alright, so what are the things that have stressed me out lately? What are those things that made me angry?” You know, keeping track, understanding that if you’re constantly getting angry on Mondays, taking some extra time and being aware before you leave for work in the morning to get centered. Maybe eat some breakfast, make sure that you finish your coffee before you go. Those are some simple steps. You know, just being aware that when you step into your vehicle, that you’re continuing to be aware of your emotions and your surroundings.
Connor: Absolutely. Okay, so take for instance, maybe someone is aware that they have anger issues, at what point do you think someone could benefit from maybe some professional anger management?
Graham: So, really what I use to kind of determine if someone can benefit from any sort of anger management therapy is really just understanding, you know, the frequency of the anger. How often are they getting angry? What is the intensity level of the anger? Is it just like a minor annoyance or are they getting all the way where it’s becoming physical or verbal, where their anger is affecting other people or their environment? The length that they stay angry, if someone is unable to calm down and get back to center on their own, that would probably be a good sign. And also, if it’s beginning to deliver into your relationships, your work, and especially if someone has had legal problems due to their anger, that’s an indicator right there.
Troy: And Graham, have you ever personally experienced road rage, and how do you respond? Or even in everyday life when you get angry, how do you kind of handle things?
Graham: So, I think as, you know, I’m a human being, as with everyone else, I’ve seen road rage on the road, I’ve experienced road rage myself, and really what that comes down to, if I ever become angry on the road, I can probably pretty quickly trace it back to a poor time management. I didn’t leave enough time in the morning, I left the house knowing I’m five minutes behind and going to be late, so then whenever someone cuts me off or someone’s going slow, that would be a time I’m more prone to getting angry. I’ve also seen the people on the road that are probably experiencing the same sort of thing, where you make a turn out in front of them, and you have enough time and you see that person speed up behind you, and that’s usually a good sign that, “hey, I must have done something to offend this person,” but not taking it personally, right? Those are sort of mindfulness disciplines for myself that I practice.
Connor: Absolutely! Yeah, that sounds great. So Graham, before we go, is there anything you’d like to tell our listeners? Maybe about your counseling services, or anything else you’d like to add yet?
Graham: Sure! You know, Life and Love Counseling here, we work with pretty much adults and children, families, couples…really anybody that walks through our doors, we have a therapist here that likes to deal with them, or they can help them with their problems and try to find a way to get them on track. Myself personally, the type of therapy that I do, I usually tend to work with emotional disorders, so things like anger, trying to work through and finding the underlying symptom, because, like I said earlier, anger is usually a response to something, so trying to find out where in this in this person’s life are they experiencing too much stress? You know, are they having some relationship problems that are spilling over into other areas of their life? I believe in the work here, I believe that therapy works, and if anyone is listening and knows someone that could benefit from some therapy, whether it be for anger, depression, or all the other ranges of things that people struggle with, it’s definitely good to be supportive, and see if you can help push them towards therapy. Make a suggestion. Therapy is beneficial. It is a long-term commitment, but it does work. And so, our locations, we’re Life and Love Counseling, we’re here on Granite Run Drive here in Lancaster, and our phone number is (717)-617-2065, and if anyone out there would like a referral or like some extra help, they should definitely give us a call.
Connor: Alright again, that’s Graham Cox-Holmes from Life and Love Counseling. Graham, thanks so much for sharing all that great information with us.
Graham: Good deal! Thank you, I really appreciate that. Have a good rest of your day.
Troy: Alright and again, a big thank you to Graham. We appreciate all that insight, and I think it was good to get a professional perspective, especially dealing with road rage and anger management. But if you do happen to get in trouble, there are plenty of laws in place. It varies by state, but Connor, I know you got that covered for us.
Connor: Yeah, just briefly we’ll touch on some of the state legislation regarding aggressive driving and road rage. To date, 15 states have addressed aggressive driving in their legislatures, 11 states have passed laws specifically defining aggressive driving actions, California and Utah have amended existing reckless driving laws to include actions similar to those defined as aggressive by other states, Pennsylvania has passed a resolution against aggressive driving, and New Jersey enforces aggressive driving under existing laws as well. So really, this is just to say that if you do encounter road rage or aggressive driving or you’re the victim of either of those things, in whatever state you’re working in, just be sure to review the laws and take the proper legal action, because while you may not be able to fight back in the moment, using the law against someone who’s perpetrated these types of crimes is the most appropriate thing to do in most cases. You know, don’t take matters into your own hands. Just call on law enforcement when you can, and make sure that the situation is handled appropriately and legally. That’s pretty much the bottom line; don’t take matters into your own hands. So, there’s a lot of talk with the road rage regarding arming truckers, arming yourself in these situations, and that really kind of brings the conversation to whether or not truckers can carry guns. And this has been a topic of debate, and a lot of questions have kind of circulated around this just based on different gun laws in different states, and whether or not you can bring a licensed firearm with you in your company truck, or if you can travel across state lines and your permits will stay valid and legal. And so, again, that’s one of the things you’re gonna just have to check ahead of time, and really make sure that you have all of your ducks in a row with legality and everything in that regard. But if you like, we do have a blog on AllTruckJobs.com called “Can Truckers Carry Guns?” and if you just search that in Google, it’ll be one of the top results as well. So, that blog can tell you a lot of what you need to know in order to figure out whether or not you can arm yourself either as a company driver, or as an owner operator, or whatever. So, always be sure to review the law ahead of time, but feel free to check that blog out, we’ll also have a link below. And really, something else to consider is what passenger vehicles should think about when on the road with truckers. You know, there’s all sorts of aspects in terms of the truck’s speed and weight that make it hard to maneuver and make intentional or unintentional road rage incidents more severe. Keep in mind, I guess, just as a trucker that, you guys know this of course, but most passenger cars have no real perspective on what driving a truck is actually like, so it’s easy to get mad at people when they’re driving erratically or they’re not thinking about how their vehicle’s positioning is affecting yours, but it’s just another thing to kind of gain perspective on but again, it kind of goes without saying that four-wheelers piss truckers off. What can we say, right?
Troy: Yeah, and while I hope we’ve provided some great tips and tricks as well as some information on road rage, we hope all you truckers are safe driving out there. We hope you can keep your emotions in check, especially when your fellow drivers are not keeping theirs in check.
Connor: And also, to take the right action if something does happen. To respond correctly and legally, those are other big points to remember in terms of dealing with road rage.
Troy: Yeah, I hope we covered everything, but before we go, Connor, I think we should get into some fun topics before we get going.
Connor: We might as well.
Troy: And first up is weird driving rules by state. Let’s take a look at some of the weirdest ones that we found.
Connor: Absolutely! Yeah, this is gonna be a fun one. So first, we have a law from Alabama, and that’s “no driving while blindfolded.” For some reason, they felt the need to actually write that into their laws. It seems pretty obvious.
Troy: You never know nowadays. Look at the warning labels we have on some of our products.
Connor: That’s a good point. I mean yeah, we might as well just include “do not drive while blindfolded” on everybody’s driver’s license, just to be sure. So that one’s pretty crazy, but what else do we got?
Troy: Yeah, I have one, and this is probably my favorite, and it has me thinking. I can’t stop thinking about it actually. It’s from Kansas, and it says you can’t transport dead poultry in this state. Which has me wondering, if that means if you go to KFC, if you have to dine in at all times, because how are you gonna take it home? If you get stopped with a bucket full of chicken, you might be looking at some serious consequences.
Connor: I mean, that chicken is so good it should be illegal anyway, so maybe they’re on to something with that one. Alright, so next we have a law from Kentucky where it says it’s illegal for your pet to molest a vehicle in Fort Thomas. So I guess that just means that they had that happen one too many times in Fort Thomas and they felt the need to make a law about it.
Troy: Fort Thomas seems like a lawless wasteland that they needed to kind of crack down hard on some pet molesting epidemic.
Connor: We needed some kind of order in Fort Thomas, and that came from the pet molesting law.
Troy: It’s good to know, it’s good to know that there’s still some law and order in this world.
Connor: They’re looking out for us.
Troy: Alright, and in New Jersey, frowning at a police officer is against the law here, which is surprising because I don’t think I’ve ever smiled being in New Jersey, but it’s pretty interesting. I think I always try to at least wave when I’m driving past a police officer to let them know I’m not doing anything illegal.
Connor: That’s the exact moment that you’re gonna get arrested though.
Troy: Yeah, but if you decide to frown at them you can get in trouble apparently.
Connor: So unhappiness is against the law in New Jersey, who would have thought? But anyway, our next law comes from Pennsylvania, our home state here. It says, “when driving on a country road at night, you must stop every mile and set off flares or other warning signals, and then allow ten minutes for livestock to clear the road.” As a native Pennsylvanian, I can tell you that everyone does this all the time and it’s so annoying, and I cannot believe that it’s still a law. No, that’s not true. Why would they even write that into law? Is it still in the books? We’ve got to check that out.
Troy: I don’t know. I want to suggest that’s from, like, the 1910s when you’re on a horse and buggy.
Connor: I mean, to be fair, we do have horse and buggy here still.
Troy: That is true. That could just be a rule for the Amish.
Connor: I can’t imagine that they’re setting off flares very often though.
Troy: That’s true.
Connor: That seems a little fancy for their for their tastes, but hey.
Troy: Alright, and one last one, did you know, Connor, that in Rhode Island, it’s illegal to ride a horse on a highway for the purpose of racing or testing the speed of the horse?
Connor: Well if we don’t test the speed of horses on highways, how are we gonna know how much horse power our cars actually have?
Troy: I’m waiting for the reality show that just focuses on the illegal horse street-racing scene in Rhode Island, because I know it’s out there.
Connor: Racing for pink slips.
Troy: For sure. But alright, let’s get on to our second fun topic. Again, those were all from a blog on Nationwide.com, “Weird Traffic Laws by State,” and we’ll include the link in the show notes.
Connor: Yeah, there’s a ton more great laws there you can check out. They’re pretty ridiculous.
Troy: Yeah, but Connor and I are both two pretty musical dudes, and hopefully heard our rendition of Christmas in the Cab. You know, music is a big part of our lives, but we got to thinking about road rage and those songs that we really like to rock out to that kind of let us let some of our emotion out. So, Connor and I are gonna choose one of our favorite road rage songs. Connor, why don’t you start?
Connor: Sure, absolutely. For my road rage song, the one that always kind of takes the fire out of my fists and puts it back into my brain is “Killing in the Name” of Rage Against the Machine. You guys probably all know that song. If you don’t know that song, you need to know that song.
Troy: Yeah, we’ll include a link for sure in the show notes.
Connor: Yeah, we can’t play it on the show because of copyright and all that. It would be very expensive to license Rage Against the Machine for our program, but it’s on YouTube and everything, so go check that out. We’ll link it. But yeah, you know that bridge when they have that whole crescendo build-up until the very last chorus, it’s just like, you don’t need to curb stomp anybody’s real face, you can just kind of let Rage Against the Machine sing about it for you. There’s no real law against blasting heavy music in your car, unless you’re distracting other drivers but whatever, go for it. Troy, what’s your road rage song of choice?
Troy: Yeah, I usually just want something that’s upbeat and fast and for that, I’ll probably choose “Sabotage” by The Beastie Boys. It’s just something that always gets me going and makes me feel like I’m in an action movie, and kind of lets that adrenaline flow and gets my mind off anything that I was mad at. It just kind of channels that into excitement and adrenaline, and I’m always into the lyrics of the song, and it’s definitely another song that you guys should check out. We’ll leave it in the show notes, that’s “Sabotage” by The Beastie Boys. But I think both of those choices were pretty good, and I’m definitely planning on listening to that on the way home.
Connor: For sure, and if you guys have any favorite road rage songs, feel free to share them with us on Facebook or Twitter. Leave a comment on our road rage blogs telling us your favorite road rage song, and use music instead of physical aggression, how about that? But anyway, that’s all we have for you guys today. Thanks for listening, and stay tuned for our next episode, which is going to cover everything marijuana and trucking. Until next time, I’m your co-host, Connor Smith.
Troy: And I’m Troy Diffenderfer.
Connor: And this has been BigRigBanter.
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