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Road rage with kids

Guest Dad Joe Burris is thinking about road rage and kids this Father's Day Friday:

Most of the time, my daily commute between my home in Northern Virginia to the Sun is relatively safe. Painfully time consuming, but safe.

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That's why I was stunned to hear about a horrific road-rage incident that occurred earlier this week in on Interstate 95 in Prince William County, Va.

An incident between the driver of a dump truck and one in a car became so intense that the dump truck driver hit the car with his vehicle _ prompting the other driver to get out of his car and fire a more than dozen shots at the truck.

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In my years of driving, I've had my share of frustrations on the road, and occasionally I've vented...

I've honked my horn excessively, even yelled at a motorist or two when I felt their erratic driving put me in danger.

But I wonder what would cause anyone to lose it the way the motorists in Prince William County did?

In looking for answers, I turned to the American Automobile Association (AAA) Web site. In addition to pointing to increased congestion, the failure of motorists to adhere to rules of the road or yield to the right of way, here's what the site had to say about road rage:

"In some cases, it appears that incidents of road rage are caused by simple misunderstandings between drivers. A driver may make a momentary error of judgment but the perception of another is that he is driving aggressively.

"Human beings are territorial. As individuals we have a personal space, or territory, which evolved essentially as a defense mechanism -- anyone who invades this territory is potentially an aggressor and the time it takes the aggressor to cross this territory enables the defender to prepare to fend off or avoid the attack."

But it's amazing how often that in a fleeting moment, the need to safeguard one's personal space takes precedence over protecting one's life and family.

The worst road rage incident I've ever seen while driving occurred years ago on the Southeast Expressway in Boston. It involved an argument between the driver of a pickup -- who was in the center lane of the highway -- and a motorist driving a sedan in the right lane, all while traveling in excess of 65 mph.

The argument escalated to where the pickup driver pulled slightly ahead, and in a shimmying motion, slammed his back bumper into the sedan's headlights, sending broken glass flying. The two then took turns slamming into each other like bumper cars, miraculously without ever losing control of their vehicles, until one finally drove off an exit flashing half of the peace sign.

I figure if I'm prone to getting that angry, I've got no business behind the wheel.

(Baltimore Sun Staff/Karl Merton Ferron)

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