Report, not engage, aggressive drivers

 

Every once in awhile, while driving on Highway 17, I see motorists do some crazy -- and scary -- things.

 

Back during the holiday season, I was heading toward Santa Cruz from San Jose when I noticed the driver of a red Dodge Ram-type truck trying his best to get through the modest traffic that polka dotted the highway that day.

 

All through the winding incline of the Los Gatos hills, he was tailgating and weaving from lane to lane as he slowly made his way to the head of the pack and disappeared around the curve ahead.

 

When I next saw him near Sugarloaf Road, he was trapped behind two vehicles – a grey Volkswagen Rabbit-type car and a small, white Toyota-esk pick-up truck. The drivers of those two vessels were lingering along side each other, neither one passing the other.

 

I could see the frustration growing in the red truck’s driver, as I watched him weave from lane to lane, trying to gauge which of the two vehicles was going to pull ahead of the other so he could go around them and continue on his hurried way.

 

But neither driver budged.

 

After awhile, the red truck began trying to split lanes, motorcycle-style, to get by the two moving road blocks. He was met with break lights, as the car and truck swerved toward each other, continuing to block his attempts.

 

Then I blinked. And when my eyes reopened, I saw the red truck dart between the two vehicles. I don’t know if he hit the VW or just angered him, but the car gave chase and they disappeared around the next bend.

 

I never saw the red truck again, but when I had gotten down to Granite Creek Road in Scotts Valley, the VW was on the side of the road and its driver was walking briskly toward the nearby call-box. The white pick-up pulled up behind it.

 

I assume they had gotten the truck’s license plate number and were about to call the CHP to report the heart-pounding incident.

 

Officer Grant Boles, CHP spokesman, said it is unwise and unsafe to engage an enraged motorist.

 

“We urge people not to put themselves at risk,” he said. “You’ve got to be careful. People (driving aggressive) are already on the brink. If you confront them, it can make them snap.”

 

Instead, Boles urged motorists to allow more than ample time to reach their destinations.

 

“Don’t rush,” he said. “If you get cut off, don’t confront the other motorist or give chase.” 

 

Get the offending vehicle’s license plate number, note the location of the offense and call the CHP, he said.

 

“The CHP will issue a warning letter (to the vehicle’s owner) and their license plate will be added into our database,” Boles said, noting that his office fields road rage-related “calls all day long.”

 

That database helps the CHP keep track of recklessly driven vehicles, he explained.

 

“If the vehicle is involved in a collision later down the road, that information will be used against them,” he said.

 

“We do have certain cars that keep getting reported,’ Boles added. “We had one car doing it all the time. We were getting lots of complaints. We caught him and used (the information in the database) in court when we charged him with reckless driving.”

 

Do you have a road rage-related story to tell? Share it by posting here or emailing streetsmarts@santacruzsentinel.com. It may be used in a future Monday edition of Street Smarts.

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6 Responses to Report, not engage, aggressive drivers

  1. Scott says:

    So when they say call the CHP, does that mean call 911 or some other number?

  2. Robert says:

    While there is no excuse for the “Ram” driver’s behavior, many road rage incidents could be prevented if folks would follow some of the simple rules of courteous driving. If you are not going fast enough to pass, introduce yourself to the right lane. I have followed vehicles going 48mph side by side from Scotts Valley to Los Gatos and despite being frustrated, I am very thankful that I was not born with a brain that would let me think this kind of driving (no problem with the person in the right lane) was acceptable.

  3. Dial 662-0511 to reach the local CHP office. If you click on the “blue” CHP lettering, you’ll see phone numbers for neighboring CHP offices, as well.

  4. Jaydog says:

    Sure, slower cars should pull over to the right, we all know that. But here is how it really happens… Car 1 pulls to the left to pass traffic at 5-10 miles per hour over the limit. Car 2 comes zooming up behind car 1 at 80-90 mph. Enter the “a-hole” scenario described in the blog. Wait for the slower vehicle to pass and pull over patiently? Nope. Brights flashing, tailgating, weaving, the bird flipped. People should (and for the most part are) being considerate and pulling over when faster traffic is approaching. The faster traffic (usually adults with the maturity of a 12 year old) are not being patient and allowing others to pass. They think the world revolves around them. If I am passing cars with traffic infront of me at a safe distance, I am not pulling over so you can tailgate the guy infront of me, that is a stupid waste of time, we are all stuck in the traffic together. I don’t use the passing lane anyway, unless I am passing someone….

  5. Franco says:

    I see people doing stupid things almost everyday on the roadways. Bring back the 55 mph speed limit. I’ve always felt comfortable driving slow in the right lane.I’ve also been convinced twice why people speed. One they’re in a hurry and two they simply don’t enjoy driving.

  6. Jon Kankel says:

    I have a road rage CHP police report from last year where a crazy idiot in a red dodge ram pickup like the one described in this article literally rammed into my family and I. He then speed off and was never caught. He not only smashed up both of our cars but he indangered the lives of my wife and two small children inside because I would not get out of his way fast enough.

    Although I do agree that on Highway 17 there are two kinds of drivers at war with each other: the blockers and the passers. It is illegal to cruise in the passing lane at whatever speed you want. The left lane is for passing only. When you block that lane then others will pass you on the right which is also illegal. It is a catch-22.

    Does anyone know who I can contact about this lunatic in the red dodge pickup to see if it is the same guy?

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