Posts Tagged ‘road rage’

Dear NHTSA: Please fix your road rage definition

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

This is Road Rage Awareness Week in Michigan.

Sounds great, except it’s unclear whether this includes motor vehicle assault against cyclists, pedestrians, or even equestrians.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration defines road rage as an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle, or an assault precipitated by an incident that occurred on a roadway.

Does this even make sense? How does assault with a vehicle occur by the operator of another vehicle?

A different definition of road rage is on the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) web site.

Road Rage is “an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of one motor vehicle on the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or is caused by an incident that occurred on a roadway.”

Why is road rage limited to assaults on other motor vehicle operators and passengers? Shouldn’t it include motor vehicle assaults against all road users?

The AAA Safety Foundation study Controlling Road Rage defines road rage as “an incident in which an angry or impatient motorist or passenger intentionally injures or kills another motorist, passenger, or pedestrian, or attempts or threatens to injure or kill another motorist, passenger, or pedestrian.”

Again, what about bicyclists?

Governor Jennifer Granholm concluded the Awareness Week resolution by stating, “I encourage all residents of this state to promote the prevention of a dysfunctional act and to be considerate of other drivers.”

How about being considerate of other road users?

Motorist charged with felonious assault against cyclist

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

The Oakland Press is reporting on a road rage incident which occurred Monday in the Detroit-suburb of West Bloomfield. The incident led to a motorist ramming a bicycle — twice — while the cyclist lay under the bike and the car in front.

When the two stopped for the light at Inkster and Maple roads, the bicyclist came up to the pickup driver’s window and told the driver he had crowded him on the road.

“The two exchanged words,” said Lt. Carl Fuhs of the West Bloomfield police.

Fuhs said the bicyclist struck the pickup truck’s mirror with a water bottle, and the bottle fell to the ground. The mirror wasn’t broken.

“He was off the bike walking (with it) to get the water bottle and went in front of the truck,” said Fuhs. “The pickup drove forward, ramming the bicycle. Then the driver backed up and rammed it again.”

The cyclist was taken to a nearby hospital with a broken ankle. The driver was arrested and and their vehicle was impounded.

Except for the rail-trail, West Bloomfield is simply a terribly unsafe place to ride a bike. All of the roads are controlled by the Road Commission for Oakland County, which refuses to design them to safely accommodate bicyclists.

Cycling advocates did meet with West Bloomfield planning officials this spring and asked that they include Complete Streets language in their master plan which is currently being revised.


The Oakland Press article’s title begins with “WHAT DO YOU THINK?”

What do we think about felonious assault? Is this is a news report or a public poll?

In any case, the Oakland Press was successful in eliciting plenty uninformed opinions on where cyclists should ride. To the paper’s credit, they updated the article to include Michigan’s state law.

The Oakland Press reported on another assault where an 18-year-old pregnant woman apparently stabbed another woman nine times. That article did not begin with “WHAT DO YOU THINK?”

Impeding Traffic: Looking at the bigger picture

Saturday, July 18th, 2009

Throughout the Detroit suburbs, cyclists can expect to hear the occasional verbal assault from motorists. The typical theme is “you don’t belong on the road” or “you’re in my way.”

Clearly state law says that cyclists have the same access to all Michigan roads except limited-access highways.

Some argue that since cyclists can’t travel at the speed limit, they shouldn’t be on the road and that bicycles impede traffic. But courts have dismissed that argument since it would effectively ban bicycles (and pedestrians, pack-animals, farm machinery, Amish wagons, etc.) from all roads.

But are motorists really that concerned about being occasionally slowed due sharing the road with cyclists? How much time do Metro Detroit motorists “lose” to cyclists on the roads?

Rather than attempt to answer that question, it’s perhaps more important to step back and judge all the issues that delay motorists.

How much time do motorists lose to:

  • Road construction
  • Stop lights and stop signs
  • Speed limits
  • Rush hour traffic
  • School buses loading and unloading children
  • At-grade train crossings
  • Inclement weather
  • Emergency vehicles
  • Slow downs due to vehicle crashes
  • Other cars on the road

Motorists’ time lost to bicyclists is certainly minor compared with most of these. So are these same motorists yelling at school buses and emergency vehicles to get off the road? It seems that if they were so consumed with decreasing their travel delays, they’d focus on the issues causing the biggest delays.

And speaking of travel delays, this past week an apparently careless driver caused a horrific tanker explosion on I-75 which caused over a $1 million in damage and has left the expressway closed for days. This portion of I-75 carries 160,000 vehicles per day and the closure is causing many minutes of delay per vehicle.

This single crash has likely caused more motorist delay than all the cyclists in Metro Detroit combined — ever.

That certainly helps put this all in perspective.

Motor Mania

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

This is an interesting Disney animation from 1950 that shows how “normal” people can become maniacal behind the wheel of a car. Sadly enough, cyclists and pedestrians are still the brunt of this motorist abuse 58 years later.

[Source: Commute by Bike]