Does anybody else who drives regularly in urban/city traffic feel that road rage is on the increase?
Every time I have to drive into the Sydney CBD I feel like I am endangering life and limb. Drivers are on the horn for the slightest thing and there is so much gesticulating and flipping the bird I am surprised people manage to steer the car their hands are flying around so much.
Surely all this carrying on doesn’t make for a pleasurable journey or in fact get you to your destination any faster. Surely it is a hindrance rather than a help.
Today I did something momentous. For me. I drove over the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
What’s the big deal? You ask. People drive over bridges all the time.
Well, I haven’t driven over the good old Harbour Bridge for over four years. I have been too afraid to. I feel ridiculous admitting it but there you have it.
Four years ago I was in a cab coming home from visiting a friend. We were heading south on the bridge. It was about 6PM so traffic was fairly busy. A guy in the lane next to us in one of those huge Nissan Pathfinders was weaving in and out of traffic in a very reckless manner. He clipped the car behind my cab which in turn, clipped my cab and drove us on an angle into the lane to our right where we clipped an elderly lady who banged her head on the windscreen.
Traffic was brought to a standstill and of course, the Nissan driver got out of his car and started hurling abuse at my cabbie for getting in his way. It got very nasty very quickly. As all the drivers stood around shouting I happened to notice the elderly lady leaning forward over her steering wheel. There was blood coming out of her mouth. I got into a panic thinking she had sustained a head injury and I was angry that everyone was so busy shouting and looking for someone to blame that no one checked to see if anyone was seriously injured.
When the police came the Nissan man was found to be DUI as well as obnoxious. I believe he later had his licence suspended. The paramedics recommended the elderly lady be taken to hospital for observation. Thank God, she ended up being completely fine.
No one was seriously hurt but it scared me how easily chaos ensued. One car hitting another was like a domino effect. For weeks afterwards I dreamt of cars banging into one another and hurtling over the sides of the bridge into the water below.
I thought I was fine with it. I certainly didn’t feel nervous about driving but I did realise today that for years I have been deliberately avoiding crossing over the bridge.
There is a long way round which I have been taking for years but today I had to go and visit a friend and I thought: ‘This is crazy. I have to get over this.’
So I did it. I drove over the bridge and back again. I gripped the steering wheel so hard my knuckles were white. The road felt spongy. Through the rear view mirror all I could see was sky. To my right I saw glimpses of water with sunlight glancing on the surface.
I clenched my teeth whenever a car passed me. I held my breath when changing lanes but I made it, there and back again, just like I had been driving the bridge every day. Just like I had been crossing it every day.
It’s a good feeling to conquer a fear, no matter how small. There is a sense of empowerment to be had. It’s a relief to finally say goodbye to the hold the reckless, raging driver had over me and to take once more, whichever route I please. Little things mean a lot.