What goes through peoples’ minds? (road-ragey related)

OK, it didn’t exactly escalate to road rage, maybe road irritation?

I was out for a drive with my two young grandkids, in part to look at the changing leaves. We were on a winding rural two-lane road. I noticed I was being very closely tailgated. The speed limit was 40 MPH, I was going a steady 43.

The dude tailgated me for a few minutes, then zipped around me and proceeded to brake check me. He slowed down to about 20 and hit his brakes several (8-10) times before zooming ahead once he was satisfied, I guess, that I’d learned my lesson.

My question is, what was on his mind? Was he thinking, “I’ll fix this asshole”? Did he actually receive some satisfaction for punishing me for going a mere 3 MPH over the speed limit?

Sometimes it’s hard to not hate people.


People are weird. It’s really concerning that he did that with your grandkids in the car.

I doubt it.

Can I just say, I really fucking hate this term? They’re not “brake checking”, they’re deliberately trying to cause an accident. Calling it “brake checking” sounds like they were trying to do you a favor. “Good news! Your brakes are good enough and your reflexes fast enough that you didn’t rear-end me, even though I totally deserved being rear-ended! Toodles!”

Ha ha, so funny you should say this. I hate the term as well. I only used it in my post because I wanted to avoid someone chiming in with “they call that brake checking, just so ya know”.


I’ve noticed that some people who are usually men usually young men are angry. Angry at maybe something specific, or global, or unconscious, but it doesn’t matter. They are boiling angry and everyone and everything is a potential target. Now arm them with a vehicle. Presto.

“They” being assholes, of course :smiley:

I call it angry brain or angry logic. It increases focus on winning/showing them/punishing them/etc. The angrier you are, the harder it is to get out of that rutt.

I agree that the driver was probably angry about something else, with their adrenaline from fight or flight running through.

But, as far as actual thoughts? It was probably just “Why won’t this [expletive] drive faster? I’ll show him!” without thoughts toward the risk of doing so.

It definitely sounds like this driver was in full rage mode.

Speaking of your grandchildren in the car, I hope they were watching and learning how to react to idiots like that (e.g. let them finish their idiocy without responding until they give up and drive away).

Good point, but no, they’re a little too young for that.


If he keeps that up, the dashboard.

You might be surprised. They can see if you get angry (or don’t) even if they have no idea why. They can absorb the idea that “grandpa gets angry sometimes in the car” or not, if you don’t. It will add to the sum of their information.

As Robert Burns said " A chield’s amang you takin notes."

Checking is an alternate term for braking. It comes up in sports with hockey players checking the movement of an opponent and a check swing in baseball where the batt doesn’t come all the way around.

In Bryan Burroughs’ book Public Enemies, there’s a circa 1933 account of a man and his wife out driving when another car cuts in front of them and speeds away. The man decides not to let them get away with it, speeds up himself and cuts them off. The trailing car chases them, and the man decides to pull over at a drugstore and call the police. He exits his car, but before he can get inside, gunfire erupts from the other vehicle, killing him.

Moral: do not engage in any driving maneuver that pisses off Baby Face Nelson.

I’m sure there are examples of fatal road rage incidents before that one, but it’s the earliest I’ve found so far.

I’ve given up trying and have come to enjoy it quite a bit.

The most idiotic part of his behaviour is that, had you needed brake sharply yourself with him close behind he would have hit you.
So when he does similar to you he’s pretty much explicitly admitting that he himself was driving in a dangerous manner when tailgating you.
Not that he’ll see it that way.

This thread points to the utility of dash cams. They won’t stop assholes from assholing, but if their assholery does result in a collision, you’ve got a video record of your saintly driving and their insanity in the minutes and seconds before impact. Once you’re in a crash, don’t say a word to the perp - DEFINITELY don’t mention your camera(s) - just call 911 and wait. When the police show up, you can give your side of the story and tell them (the police) about your dash cam.