They’re the same people who hold the door for you at a restaurant, let you move up in line because you only have a few items, and knock on your door to let you know that your mail was delivered to their homes by mistake.

But are they really the same when they’re behind the wheel?

What is it about being in a car that transforms those same people into rude, aggressive drivers more concerned about being first at a stoplight than about making it home to their families in one piece?

It’s a question I have yet to find an answer to; however, it’s a question that plagues me daily as I drive the Baltimore Beltway during the busiest times.

From riding my bumper and giving me the middle finger to trying to run me off the road and slamming on the breaks after jumping in front of me, I’ve experienced it all. I’ve had some EXTREMELY close calls that were only prevented because I decided that I didn’t also want to be a NASCAR driver.

I don’t want to retaliate with loud honks from my horn, agitated gestures, or other road rage responses. What I really want to do is sit down with the people — somewhere outside of their cars, like a coffee shop — and ask, “Why?!”

I know that I’m not the only one who experiences this craziness on the roads because when I turn on the radio, the traffic report is madness. Most of the accidents aren’t from carelessness or from a lack of attention. They’re from the exact opposite — paying so much attention and caring so much that everything another driver does is an intentional slight.

It’s all types of people, too.

Young. Old. White. Black. White collar. Blue collar. Democrats. Republicans. Atheists. Christians. Employed. Unemployed. Teenagers. Parents. Everyone.

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It makes me sad to live in a world where people think they’re anonymous behind the wheel. If this is what people are like when they believe they’re anonymous, what does that mean for our society? What else do these people do when they can’t see who they’re affecting?

I understand that there are slow, hesitant, inexperienced, and even just plain stupid drivers out on the road. But really, what does it cost you to slow down, get over, or just breathe until your uncalled-for rage subsides? A few seconds? A minute or two at best? It costs much more when your car is smashed to pieces and you’re lying in a hospital bed.

Once you’re forced to step our of your ruined car and face the other driver, you’re not anonymous anymore; you’re just a jerk, plain as day.

This isn’t just for the drivers in the DMV, though, based on my experience, they need it most. It’s for every single driver on the road because I’m sure people are just as rude in other parts of the country.

Remember that the person who had to merge because the lane was ending, left a following distance to avoid rear-ending someone, or didn’t see you in the blind spot is the same person holding the door for you at a restaurant, letting you move up in line because you only have a few items, and knocking on your door to let you know that your mail was delivered to his or her home by mistake.

Remember that it’s a person … with loved ones, dreams, goals, and a rich life, so it’d be nice if you didn’t kill them.

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To read statistics on aggressive driving, click here.

When was the last time you experienced aggressive driving or road rage? How did you handle the situation?

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