Vancouver Province column: Drivers, check your tempers as our children head off to school

The Province
Monday, September 3, 2007
Last month, in a Victoria shopping mall parking lot, a driver with a four-year-old daughter in tow had to use a tennis racquet to fend off an attacking motorist wielding a cue ball.

In July, a Vancouver driver was charged with mischief and assault for repeatedly punching the driver of a pick-up truck in the head after a heated exchange of words.

And a Burnaby man was arrested in May in connection with a road-rage beating in which the victim suffered a heart attack.

Vancouver is the best city in the world to live, according to a survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit published last week.

But folks who spend any time driving in this region might beg to differ. That’s because — compounded by our ever-congested highways and bridges — road rage is alive and well.
The rash of bizarre and disturbing incidents this summer highlights the fact that getting behind the wheel can be a dangerous proposition.

The usual perpetrators — with their tailgating, reckless speeding, intentional red-light-running and middle-finger-saluting — are endangering lives and sullying our reputation as friendly and laid-back.

I’ve lost count of the number of traffic tantrums I see. Many are trivial, but some leave me shaking my head.

Last week, I witnessed a testosterone-fuelled motorcyclist tailgating and weaving in and out of traffic at high speed on the Trans- Canada Highway. To confirm his view of himself as supreme alpha male, he performed a wheelie through the Cassiar Connector tunnel in East Vancouver.

It was a YouTube-type moment that might have been entertaining if it wasn’t so dangerously foolish.

It’s not just juvenile hijinks that are making other drivers nervous. Several B.C. court cases have dealt with deadly-serious road-rage shootings — the kind you once heard about only in Los Angeles.

It’s mind-boggling that anyone with anger-management issues and a penchant for guns is allowed to drive at all.

Perhaps we should all take seriously the recent advice from The Vatican, which issued a document called Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road.

According to the understated pronouncement from the Pope’s office, “cars tend to bring out the ‘primitive’ side of human beings, thereby producing rather unpleasant results.”

It urges motorists to avoid “unbalanced behaviour . . . impoliteness, rude gestures, cursing, blasphemy, loss of sense of responsibility or deliberate infringement of the highway code.”

Whether or not they bow to papal authority, B.C. drivers who can’t keep their temper in check should take heed.

The back-to-school season is here, with hordes of young children busing, biking and walking to class.

And the need for safe, considerate driving habits is paramount.

Any “unpleasant results” stemming from “unbalanced behaviour” behind the wheel are the last thing anyone wishes to see.

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