Cool heads prevail over hot tempers
Patience may be more than just virtue in today’s climate of hostility on the highways.
It can also be a valuable tool for preserving one’s peace of mind, or even physical safety, during disputes about rights of way and failures to yield.
“The best thing to do is take a deep breath and say, ‘go ahead,'” says Sgt. Lance Modispacher, spokesman for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. “I would never recommend getting involved with anybody in a dispute. You never know who you are dealing with.”
Unlike California, it is not unlawful to carry a loaded handgun inside a vehicle in Nevada, which is among the reasons why Modispacher advises against expressing hostility toward other motorists.
Areas like the Tahoe Basin and Carson Valley are generally free of the gridlock that plagues metropolitan areas. But that does not leave the roadways in these secluded areas immune from emotional flareups.
A Santa Rosa man, for instance, on April 20 reported that another man attempted to smash into his car as both traveled on Kingsbury Grade.
A South Lake Tahoe woman last Saturday reported to police that she was followed home by a man apparently upset with her driving.
Neither incident resulted in injury or arrest.
Modispacher and other law enforcement officials say it is not uncommon to see reports about a “rolling 415” (police jargon for disturbance of the peace).
“It does happen over the years, but it hasn’t increased,” said South Lake Tahoe Police Cmdr. Bart Owens.
But neither Modispacher nor Owens were familiar with disputes leading to violent confrontations.
“It’s pretty rare when we have anyone get into a fistfight,” Modispacher added. “There’s times when I get annoyed with the way people drive. What people need to remember is they are not saving any time by trying to hurry. You just save a couple of seconds or minutes by passing everybody. I think patience is one of the suggestions we have, and drive responsibly.”
Some maneuvers that irk South Shore residents include improper use of the turn lane on U.S. Highway 50, abrupt lane changes and people who slow highway traffic while searching for roadside businesses.
Local psychologist Phil Middleton admits it’s difficult for people – including himself – to control their frustrations when trying to navigate the area’s highways, especially on busy weekends.
But he urges calm and believes the best thing to do when being followed by a seemingly aggressive driver is to get out of his or her way.
“Honking at (other drivers) and getting mad is certainly not going to make it better,” he said. “With some people out there, you don’t want to become a part of their bad day. You just want to get out of their way.”
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