Getting aggressive on hostile driving

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Getting aggressive on hostile driving


I realized how easy it is to suffer an unexpected attack from a total stranger when I started driving some 20 years ago. The first time, I was driving slowly through a narrow alley and a pedestrian ran up and kicked my car. And that was just the beginning. Another man booted the door as I waited at a light and swore at me.

I had my worst experience when I was trying to merge as two lanes became one. As I entered the single lane, a taxi zoomed past and jammed on the brakes right in front of me. I barely avoided driving right into him, but he did it again three times.

Back then, female drivers were rare and were easy targets. I’ve gotten used to this country’s aggressive driving culture and have survived by driving defensively. Whenever a car tries to pass me, I always let it go first so I don’t become the target of primitive instincts. There are theories on the correlation between driving and aggression that say getting behind the wheel can cause violent hunter instincts to kick in, even for normally gentle people.

Recently, two drivers were competing over a spot in a highway lane and one made a sudden stop to block the car behind. The dangerous move resulted in a five-car collision and the death of an innocent truck driver. The accident occurred on the Jungbu Highway on Aug. 7.

This kind of intimidating driving on the highway is not new. Every year, more than 30 people are killed in accidents that result from reckless driving and competition for lanes. We’ve all been threatened by hostile drivers, so the public has demanded severe punishment for the driver responsible. But the legal grounds that can be used to indict him are weak. The authorities say the Act on Special Cases concerning the Settlement of Traffic Accidents may be applied to get a sentence of up to five years in prison or 20 million won ($17,930) in fines.

But citizens are calling for something equivalent to a murder charge since this driver’s actions resulted in a death. An automobile can be a lethal weapon and many drivers threaten the lives of others when they lose control of themselves while handling such a deadly weapon.

Of course, some traffic accidents can’t be avoided, no matter how much you focus. Therefore, it’s unreasonable to apply heavy sentences for all cases. But you can’t deny that for some, it can be very difficult to control their aggressive side when behind the wheel. The authorities need to consider establishing a severe punishment policy to raise the alarm against irrational and excessively aggressive driving.

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

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