People are very prone to road rage. It seems easier to take our negative emotions on some strangers we meet on the road. Some cars are driving faster than us; we’re intrigued to drive even faster. Some cars flash their distant light at us; we decide to do the same at them with higher intensity. Sometimes it’s human instinct to join in the unintended competition on the road. Many times it becomes a mean for stressed-out people to vent out their emotions. Traffic jam, reckless drivers, and unavailable operational SOP on road/highway have become the main sources of road rage. Let’s take a look at each aspect.
- Traffic jam
Unavailable network of public transports has made it necessary for most people to own vehicles, i.e. cars and motorcycles. The number of vehicles populating the roads is consistently increasing, while the number of roads provided remains the same. Even when all vehicles are running on the roughly same speed, the movement and destination of each and every car make it impossible to keep the traffic flows smoothly. Hence traffic jam happens. When it does, we tend to blame other vehicles, why the road is so full of them. Little we do realize that our vehicles also contribute to the overpopulated roads. When traffic jam happens people become very impatient. They change lanes and cut lines in hope to get to their destination faster. This only worsens the traffic jam. Every line changing and line cutting takes five to ten seconds for each car doing it. Imagine if there are two hundred cars doing the same thing in a highway. It only slows down the supposedly better traffic flow. If only people can understand that traffic jam happens and can be able to tolerate it. This will be better for our emotional state so that none of us will be having road rage. If we don’t want to be caught in a traffic jam, we should leave early.
- Reckless drivers
Everybody hates reckless drivers. They don’t use turn signals, thus nobody knows where they are heading. They change lanes without signaling to other vehicles. They cut lines just to be ahead a few meters. They tail ambulance or VIP people passing the highway unashamedly in order to be, again, ahead everybody else just a few meters. They drive very slowly on the fast lane. And they are not open to critics. These reckless drivers can be really vicious when other drivers complain about their dangering behaviors. It looks like they want to cut other people’s heads off when confronted. We have two options when dealing with reckless (and emotional) drivers: 1) we can ignore them and just focus on getting to our destination, or 2) we can waste our time and energy by being upset with them and doing the same thing as them, which will of course upset us even more. We can avoid road rage by choosing the first option. And if we are the reckless drivers, we should change.
- Unavailable operational SOP on road/highway
We should admit that the operation and administration of roads and highways in Jakarta and its surroundings need major improvements. When accidents and other casualties happen on the road, not many people know whom to contact and who will help with the effects they cause. The necessary information is not on hand. How many of us know the number of police hotline, highway patrols, tow truck company, etc? Now with electronic toll gate (GTO) in operation in most highways connecting Jakarta and other cities, additional SOP needs to be formulated. What should the Jasamarga officers do when a car tries to use the GTO when exiting the highway, even though the driver doesn’t scan its electronic card when entering it? My family encountered this case once. It was raining very hard when a car was stuck at GTO at Cikarang Utama gate. This gate is the main entrance to Jakarta highway and at that time nobody did anything. The car driver didn’t take any initiative to ask for help from the Jasamarga officers who were around, or to inform the cars behind him that he had problem. He just let about ten cars queuing behind him for more than fifteen minutes. Was he at fault? Yes, for being clueless about taking the GTO and for being selfish enough to let everybody wait. But were the Jasamarga officers were also at fault for not knowing what to do? Undoubtedly. They should have had this guideline on what to perform should a car fail to pass GTO. Maybe they could have reset the machine at GTO, maybe they could have overridden the system and taken cash payment, or maybe they could have stopped other cars from queuing at that particular GTO gate and directed the cars to other gates. It was the simplest solution that some officers could think of in almost twenty minutes. Time was wasted and patience was consumed. If only Jasamarga is more prepared for various possibilities occurring in operating the highway, maybe road rage will not happen. People may tolerate failing system, but will definitely be harsh on irresponsive road/highway administrators.
The aspects elaborated above can help us to avoid having road rage if we also have COMPASSION. Remember that everybody has their own struggle. No struggle is better or worse than yours, it is just different between one person and another. Taking the frustration, anger, and bitterness on other drivers we meet on the road doesn’t help us coming up with solutions. It may only cause new problems and worsen the negative emotions we already have. Have awareness on how we are driving affects other drivers. They are neither our rivals nor our competitors in using the road/highway. They are people who are using the same transportation means which they pay for, just like us. And last but not least, let us hope that other drivers also have compassion in driving side-by-side with us.