DARE TO ASK: Who's going to rage back at road rage?
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
Road rage in California is at an all-time high, and I am part of the problem.
I have noticed something, though: When an older white man or woman cuts me off
and I go behind them or come up to the side shouting profanities, they look
straight ahead as if nothing happened, but Hispanics or blacks are more apt to
curse back or follow me. Why is this?
C., 20s, Hispanic, California
What, should they assume you're asking them out for tea? You are threatening
and provoking a fight. Is it intelligent for a man or woman in that position to
accept your challenge?
A. Clark, Salt Lake City
It never ceases to amaze me the racial stereotypes that still exist. I am an
African-American male, 6 feet 4, college educated and in my 30s. If you pulled
alongside my car hurling threats, etc., I would ignore you, too, and without
feeling I was jeopardizing my masculinity.
Roy, 34, New York
You sound like a real scary person to me, C. I'm an old white guy who tries
to ignore aggressive behavior. I look straight ahead and go about my business.
I've also carried a concealed weapon all my life. I have never shot anybody.
However, nobody has ever followed me and then threatened my life.
Ron, 60, Stockton, Calif.
C., please consider public transit.
Rick, white, Ohio
My parents meet the criteria [older white people who don't react], and it's
because they're afraid of provoking people and think everyone's going to follow
them or shoot them.
Sarah, 18, San Diego
From Jerry Deffenbacher, a Colorado State University psychology professor
who's studied angry drivers for two decades:
- Younger drivers (18 to 20) get angrier, are more aggressive and take more
risks when driving.
- Young male drivers tend to be more aggressive in expressing their anger.
But, to be fair, some studies have found few gender differences at this age.
- Among older drivers, men act with more anger and take more risks than
women. However, men in their 40s and 50s do tend to drive greater distances than
women, so this might offer them the chance to take more risks.
- No studies he's done found any racial differences when it comes to road
anger and rage.
Here, here, says Todd Wooten, author of White Men Can't Hump (don't let the
title throw you; it's a well-reviewed tome that, among other things, examines
why some white males have an irrational fear of black males and their
"It's a generalization that black or Hispanic drivers are more
confrontational. If anything, it's the younger driver, whatever race, who might
be more impatient.
"I'm black, and if the other guy looks ominous, whatever race, I may look
straight ahead, too. But overall, if you have anger management issues, if you
feel strongly, you're going to confront someone or react, regardless of their
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers. Send general
column comments to phillip. email@example.com. You can also hear his
podcasts or watch his