I was driving to work recently when a man behind the wheel of a red van shot out from a side street without stopping and crossed a lane of traffic forcing a white panel truck in its way to swerve into the, thankfully empty, lane beside, it.
But the large white truck didn’t just move out of the way, it also tilted precariously before righting itself while I held my breath watching the scene unfold from behind. But then just second later the driver of that same red van swerved out of the lane he was in and into the lane I was in. The problem was I was already in that lane in the same space he was trying to take over, so I had to slam on my brakes — hard — to avoid a collision.
Now keep in mind I was just in a pretty serious car accident in June that was not my fault, so we can call it PTSD, we can call it road rage or we can call it “I’m not putting up with it anymore,” but when I ended up side-by-side with the driver of the van seconds later at a red light, I rolled down my window and unleashed the wrath of holy hell onto this guy. As I was screaming and waving my arm at him like some kind of deranged lunatic, he simply shrugged his shoulders and said, “Sorry.”
And that set me off even more and I screamed at him, “No, you don’t get to drive like that and think sorry is going to cut it. You’re going to kill someone driving like that and sorry is not good enough…” Thankfully, the light turned green and I continued my drive to work wondering where that inner rage came from. And the conclusion I came to was that it was the culmination of all of the bad drivers I deal with every day on my commute back and forth to work.
There isn’t a day I drive in this city, when I don’t have a close call. During my commute to work to and from Southeast Van to Mount Pleasant, for some reason drivers have decided that the stop signs on the roads feeding onto Main and Fraser streets don’t pertain to them, even if I’m right there in that lane.
And I’m going to call the blame right where I see it -- based on my numerous close calls -- and say 90 per cent of the time it’s a man driving a much bigger and more expensive vehicle than my tiny, older car. These guys act like bullies who use their, large, typically black or silver, SUV, van or pickup truck to intimidate anyone who gets in their way. (Compensating for something?) And the fact that many of the van drivers have adorable stick figure stickers of their family and cat pasted on the rear windshield of their oversized vehicle, makes it even worse.
As a survival tactic, I’ve taken to beeping my horn at them before they hit me — despite the fact it sounds like a child’s toy. But often when I do honk my horn as a way to avoid a collision, these guys will give me total attitude for not passively moving out of the way.
I recently had a guy in Gastown — driving a black SUV — tailgate me while flashing his lights and honking his horn because I was driving 30 km/h in a 30 km/h zone on very crowded, dark, rain-soaked Water Street. You should have seen his face when we ended up at a red light and I beeped my horn at him. As he turned his angry face towards me, I gave him a big smile and flipped him the bird. I honestly thought his head was going to explode, so that made me feel slightly better.
My husband keeps warning me that one day I’m going to beep at the wrong person and end up in the middle of an actual road rage incident. But my logic is, I’m going to end up dead or seriously hurt if I don’t continue to honk my horn to warn these bullies that “Hello, I’m actually right here so don’t run into me.”
So aggressive male drivers of expensive SUVs, be forewarned, I have a horn and I’m not afraid to use it.