“The Speed Thief”

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Many have felt it, everyone’s seen it: Road Rage.

Some act on it, most don’t.

Here’s one blogger’s recount of an unusual (and even amusing!)  incident north of the border.

By Derrick Curtis

This is not your typical auto blog…this is about “road-rage” involving a little incident that happened to me on my way to work.

I commute to work on a daily basis and the distance is 106 kilometers, or about 67 miles door to door.  Most good days, my drive is about an hour, depending on the season.  Regardless of the time of year however, there’s usually construction on the highways, or school buses on the 5 miles of city driving I need to do, so it’s not always smooth sailing.

The highway I travel is called “The 401″.  I’m just east of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), so the traffic, while not bumper to bumper, is still quite congested on some days.  The speed limit is 100 kilometers per hour (KPH), roughly 63 MPH.  With that said, the accepted travel speed is arguably 120 KPH (around 75 MPH), but as with most highways, there are many drivers who drive even faster. I happen to be one of those drivers.

Now, the worst day for my commute is usually Wednesdays:  increased big rig volume combined with increased construction work.  I know I have to leave earlier just to get to work on time, which despite my good intentions, doesn’t usually happen.  Still, I give myself an extra 15 minutes or so and drive a little faster, which is exactly what I did this past Wednesday.

The drive that day started out quite normal; I hit my markers well-ahead of schedule, so I figured I’d have no problems arriving at work on time.  I spoke too soon.  Just 20 minutes in everything came to a standstill.  It was not an accident; it was nothing more than the local road repair guys cutting off one and a half lanes of a two-laned highway, bringing the entire column of traffic to a halt.

It took approximately 25 minutes to get through the stoppage, and once the road opened up, I put pedal to the metal to try to make up the lost time.   I wasn’t alone.  The kilometers were flying by as my speed rose to 135 KPH (approximately 80 MPH) but this was the flow of traffic for about 15 miles or so.  That’s when the problem happened.

I was a couple cars behind the lead vehicle, approximately 10 miles from my exit, when the two cars in front of me peeled off and opened up the road ahead.  Seeing the wide open space, I suddenly had an opportunity to blast forward for a couple miles.  I did.

As my speed increased to approximately 90 MPH, I quickly gapped the distance between my car and the car in front of me, who was “floating” in the left lane.  I use the term “floating” because he wasn’t overtaking another car; he was just there in the left lane, as if though his tires were allergic to the right lane.  Because he was making no effort to move over, I made the decision to pass him on the inside.  As I signaled my intent to move over to the right lane, the floating car driver signaled the same and took up a position with the center line bisecting his car, so he was driving in both lanes to prevent me to moving past him. It sounds crazy, but that’s what he did.

The driver successfully slowed me down to approximately 75 MPH by blocking my progress, but as the queue lengthened behind him, he realized he had to move over.  By this time, I was quite close behind him, as soon as he moved over, and, of course, back into the left lane, I passed him on the inside.

But, it didn’t stop there. It just got crazier.

As soon as I passed him, he immediately changed lanes into the right lane, sped up to 80 MPH and rode my bumper for the last few miles on the highway.  I reached my exit, got off the highway and travelled the last couple of miles to my work.

Much to my surprise, the gentleman chose to exit as well and proceeded to follow me to my parking lot.  As soon as I stopped, he was in my face screaming, “What the h@#l is your hurry!!??”

I collected my belongings from my car and chose not to engage him and tried to make my way to my workplace.  As I attempted to go around him, I felt his hand on my shoulder.  Now, that would normally be an invitation for me to react, but I was trying to let it go.  I knew I was driving fast, I don’t deny it, but that’s none of his business.  Just move over and let the faster cars get by you.

I turned around to acknowledge my confronter and said, “Go ahead, say what you have to say and then go away.”

“Why do you have to drive so fast?” he asked again.

I paused for a few seconds, looked at him intently and responded, “What the h@#l business is that of yours?”

He didn’t miss a beat. “It’s everybody’s business when someone is breaking the law!”

“Oh, ok, so now you’re speaking for everybody, is that it?” I asked him.

I don’t think he really knew how to answer that, so he asked again, “I want to know why you’re in such a hurry?”

I looked him right in the eye and said, “First of all, unless you’re a cop and are going to show me a badge, I’m not accountable to you for how fast I drive!  Secondly, you’re actions to block the lanes and prevent drivers from overtaking you were far more dangerous than people who exceed the speed limit by a few kilometers an hour.”

“A few kilometers!!??” he yelled, with his arms flailing all over the place.

“Let me ask you this”, I said.  “How fast do you think I was going?”

“Well, I was driving at 120 and you flew right up on my bumper, so you had to be going 140 at least.  Why do you have to drive so fast?” he asked again.

“What’s the speed limit?” I asked.

“You know the speed limit, you know it’s 100 KPH,” he replied.

“So if you were driving 120, and the speed limit is 100, weren’t you speeding too?” I inquired.

He came back at me with “We both know the accepted speed limit is 120, don’t even go there with me.”

I re-stated, “The speed limit is 100.  You were driving 120 and I was driving 140.  We were both speeding; I was just driving faster than you.  If you want to talk about breaking the law, we were both breaking the law.”

He just kept going on. “I was driving the accepted speed limit and you don’t have to drive like a wild man and make the highway dangerous for everyone else!” he yelled yet again.

I took a deep breath.  “OK, let me ask you this.  You think speeding at 120 is less of an offense than speeding at 140, right?

He nodded in agreement.

“OK, let me ask you one more thing?  If there’s a $20 bill and a $10 bill on a table, I take the $20 and you take the $10, does that make you any less of a thief?”

He got in his car and drove away.  I went into my office feeling a little vindicated.

Next week I will leave a few minutes earlier.

 

Derrick Curtis (“DC”) is a Sergeant and Lead Instructor for Pre-Deployment Training for the Canadian Forces (Canadian Army) currently stationed in Kingston, Ontario. A member of the Special Forces and Airborne, he has served in the Middle East, Africa and former Yugoslavia, as well as having served as a bodyguard for military VIPs. He also was a popular part time DJ at several of his assignments.

Father of four, DC is a skilled hockey, soccer and badminton player and has been known to do a mean karaoke when he’s not DJ’ing at local pubs.

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