Op-ed | Road Rage Education: Learn from One Woman’s Experience on 202

This is a guest piece by Susan Casserd, who wanted to share what she learned after a recent road rage incident in the Snoqualmie Vally. With a lot of winding, dark local roads that change speed limit often, it is an important lesson.

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Several nights ago, a cold, dark night, as I pulled out of 356th Drive SE onto the 202 heading toward Fall City, I was immediately tailgated.  Not only is 356th an awkward intersection, just after an uphill curve with a bus stop blocking one’s view, but going from a complete stop to 55mph once entering the highway, takes a moment to get up to speed.  A couple of blocks later, there is a downward curve with a 40 mph speed limit, rightly so as there have been many accidents in that location.

As I pulled out, with no car in sight, I suddenly felt a car bearing down on me.  I was annoyed, but stuck with doing what I felt was right; which was slowing down as I approached the curve.  The car behind me had its lights pressed into my back window, reflecting into my eyes via the rear view mirror.  I was rattled, scared and angered by the risky road rage behavior of this driver.  It split my attention from focusing on the road, much the same as texting while driving does.

The straight road after the curve goes from 40 to 55 down to 30 and then 15 as it enters the roundabout.  I stuck with the speed limits and slowed down accordingly.  The person behind me continued following so closely that if I had had to brake they would have crashed into me.

Over the bridge and into Fall City I went, with the car behind never letting up.  We both turned into the Post Office.  Once there, a short, skinny, older woman got out of her lightweight, dented SUV and we both headed to the post office boxes.

I said to her, “You were tailgating me!”

“Yes,” she said,” the speed limit is 55.”

I chose not to get into the fact that the speed limit changes all along that route.

“You don’t know why someone is going slower, they could be having a heart attack, or have a birthday cake in the back seat,” I said, trying to help her understand.  They could have gotten something in their eye, be under the influence, looking for an address, or just be having a bad day, you never know.

Incredulously, she said “Well then, they should pull over.”

The message was lost on this person, but is worth discussing. PEOPLE are driving vehicles, and we don’t always know what’s going on with them.  Most people are doing the best they can in that moment.  Thoughtful people have a little patience and know that the one or two minutes gained by going faster isn’t worth the risk of causing an accident.  A preventable accident.

The risk of discharging angry emotions behind the wheel is huge.  I remember one time last fall I was on the 202 headed out of Fall City toward Redmond.  A fellow in a big truck decided to tailgate and then pass me as well as several other cars ahead of me.  After he gunned it past me, giving me the finger, I watched as he narrowly missed an oncoming car while he was in the wrong lane.  His road rage still affected other people even though it didn’t result in an accident that day.

And you know what?  We all ended up sitting at the same stop light at Gray Barn.

Most of us, myself included, have sworn or yelled at drivers like this, or even deliberately slowed down.  That is also very risky on the part of the victim.

What IS the best thing to do if you’re the victim of road rage?  I asked a Snoqualmie Police Officer who said to call 911 and don’t confront the driver; maintain road rageyour safety first; and secondly, get good descriptors; report it when it happens, not an hour later.

My lesson that day was to recognize that the road rage driver is having a problem, and avoid getting involved in it.  Stay calm; get out of their way as soon as possible;and then report it.

This is one way we can help each other and support the greater community in staying safe.  I would do it differently next time, and I hope my experience helps you formulate a plan as well.

Comments

  1. This article is filled with emotional dribble signifying biasness’. There are plenty of turn out lanes on 202. As you indicated in your article any driver could be experiencing an “issue”, same can be said for the driver BEHIND you. They could be experiencing an emergency as well. If you do not feel comfortable going the indicated speed limit, pull over and let the other vehicle pass. Don’t try to “police” other drivers, if they want to drive the speed limit OR faster that is their prerogative and their risk. 202 lanes are clearly marked for passing on the two lane road.
    Anytime you point a finger or flex the “entitlement” card…consider the other side. Less emotion and more facts. Think about other people, not just yourself.

  2. Hugh johnson says

    You don’t get it. You should have pulled over. If for no other reason than your insistence in driving slower may make them decide to pass you and create a hazard that kills you or someone else. People that refuse to pull over because they have the law “on their side” may very well end up dead, and then it won’t really matter. Please do yourself, your family and your community a favor and stop poking an aggressive driver with a stick.

    • UH. and Hugh Johnson is one of those on your ass! Watch out. .hey Johnson. please describe your vehicles so we can report you by vehicle description. The wisest advice I got learning to drive.. some 55 years ago.. drive your own road. do not be coerced to break the law over some jerk that has personal issues. Just drive as you would if there is no one there. Safe, within the safe limits determined by law enforcement.. and ignore those that are angry and don’t have a life other than controlling others behavior. It is your life.. let them take theirs on their own path. enough said. my opinion that is grade A! To and for me..

      • Hugh johnson says

        Jim, you seem very good at making large leaps of logic, and in making assumptions. But you missed the point. I’m unsure how you have surmised that I am a tailgater, but you are wrong. That lesson you learned 55 years ago worked fine then. But the world has changed. The problem with that antiquated philosophy today is that your action (inaction) will get someone killed. Sure you can stubbornly stay in your lane and tune out the aggressive driver. Sure you are doing the speed limit and have the law on your side. But the guy behind you is starting to fume with each passing mile. As he/she gets angrier and angrier, their judgement clouds and they make a bad decision to go around you. This bad decision cause an accident and perhaps you or them or someone else gets killed. In that case was being “right” worth it? Being right, but dead is such a hollow victory that I can’t imagine even you can’t see that. People are stressed, on all kinds of drugs/drink and always in a hurry. I choose not to be a trigger point and whenever possible, I always pull over to let an aggressive tailgater pass. I’m happy to be a few seconds late and alive. If you can’t justify this for yourself, think about those around you and in your community. After all, how does your spouse explain to your grand kids that grandpa died because he was proving something to another driver?

      • “Just drive as you would if there is no one there.” This is exactly what people do who drive 40 in a 55. Not cool!

  3. Needs to be strict laws against antagonistic driving. Period. Drivers Ed 101 teaches to drive DEFENSIVELY, not Aggressively. Since when do driving bullies get to be right?

    • Hugh johnson says

      You are right, but its just not realistic to enforce. It totally sucks to have bullies be right. And only you can decide if you will let that happen. It takes only seconds to let these folks through. For me, these are seconds well invested in risk mediation.But for me, I will always pull over and let them past. To me, it just isn’t a position worth defending. Again, right but dead is no victory.

    • One big aspect of DEFENSIVE driving is diffusing the situation as best you can safely peacefully. Pulling over would be a defensive maneuver and costs you little to know time.

  4. I had to drive that same route to avoid driving on the freeway on a spare tire. I was headed to Costco to get it repaired. I tried not to go over 40mph. I had my hazards on but was quickly tailgated. So I pulled over in that bus stop to let everyone pass. I got several mean honks. I just laughed. You’re welcome I thought. I’ve almost gotten in a head on collision on the 202 just before the big curve heading towards the falls. Some guy not paying attention and drove into my lane. I had to swerve towards the railing to avoid getting hit. Scared me to death. I’m typically not a defensive driver but that road and hwy 18, I’m very cautious and alert. Please people just settle down and drive safe!

  5. If someone behind you is driving too close or aggressively , just pull over a get out of the way. Problem solved.

    • Liz Phraner says

      I think the reality is that you were being passive aggressive by trying to control the other person. Just be safe and pull over and let them by.

  6. Corey Heart says

    The police aren’t going to pursue a ‘aggressive driver’ any more than they are going to ticket someone for holding up traffic in the left lane….

    Sorry but it’s the sad truth. If you have an agro driver behind you simply slow down, let them pass, or pull over for 1 second. Problem solved.

  7. I find it very interesting how two people can have such disparate views of an event. Such was the case recently when Susan Casserd was driving ahead of me on 202, coming down the hill from the falls. I am not sure where she entered onto the highway.
    Her account says I was tailgating her, which I deny. As I was heading to Fall City, I thought to myself what a nice drive it was that night. Traffic was very light. The roads were dry. There were no elk, deer or accidents on the road, requiring a slow down. Casserd’s car was well ahead of me, when all of a sudden she slowed to 45, 10 miles under the posted 55-mile-per-hour speed limit.
    I flicked my brights on and off quickly to let her know there was someone else on the road besides her. She just kept going under the speed limit for no apparent reason. And she continued to slow driving through Fall City, where the speed limit is posted at 30. I wonder if she was texting or dialing or talking on her cell phone. I wouldn’t doubt it.
    We both ended up at the post office, where she confronted me and began accusing me over and over again of tailgating. I asked her why she slowed down, and she told me drivers slow for all kinds of reasons. People have heart attacks, she said, or “They might have a cake on the back seat.” I replied to the ridiculous cake comment with, “That is their problem.” Someone having a heart attack is likely to swerve or go off the road, not continue down the highway in a straight line as Casserd was doing.
    I think the cake reason is one of the funniest things I have heard in a long time, and my friends and co-workers got a really good belly laugh out of that statement. Thanks, lady. If she had an unsecured cake on her back seat, perhaps she might be able to find a sign that warns, “Cake on board.”
    I wonder is Casserd is aware that rear view mirrors make cars behind seem closer than they are. Mine does. Does hers, or is she oblivious to that, too
    Furthermore, my CRV has absolutely NO dents on it. I suggest she might need her eyesight tested.
    I further suggest that she pay attention to others on the road, and if she wants to slow down, she should do the considerate thing and pull over to let others pass.

    Sincerely,
    A very good and considerate driver.

  8. This is an ongoing problem on Hwy 202 and 203. Speed limit signs that read 55 and people force extreme unnecessary caution on other drivers by poking along well under the speed limit. I take 202 to work five days a week and very rarely do I ever actually get to drive 55. Unless there are adverse weather conditions (sorry but darkness does not count) it is considerate to the other drivers behind you to at least drive the posted speed limit. I can’t count how many times some idiot in la-la land who’s driving too slow, is oblivious to the 10 impatient drivers he has stacked behind him as he takes his sweet time. Meanwhile, those of us who need to get to get somewhere at a certain time battle this frustration almost every day. Why? Because people are self-centered and rude. I see plenty of drivers in this scenario finally reach their limit and pass these driving snails, sometimes in situations that aren’t ideally safe. But you know what? I always think if an accident happened you can blame the RUDE drivers who insist on poking along like Grandma Moses. If you’re too scared to drive on the road, pull over and let people pass you. By the way, “a birthday cake in the back seat?” Really? Is there a rear-window sticker for that?

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