During the summer and with the current heat wave, tension and stress can be higher. This can cause more aggressive and confrontational drivers on the road, according to Associate Professor of Urban Design, Moises Gonzales.
The heat and amount of time we spend in the car may play a role when it comes to road rage, Gonzales said.
“There are some studies on specific human behavior … Even heat affects how people engage or how it affects mood,” Gonzales said. “Based on your commute trend, you may have an obvious higher probability of expecting road rage.”
Unsafe driving is a regular occurrence on campus, according to Ruth Clark, a University of New Mexico medical student who was hit by a car during their undergrad while skateboarding last spring. The accident resulted in a sprained arm; Clark said they weren't seriously injured and chose not to file a police report.
“The car just hit me straight on my hips and I tried to stop the car with my hand, which didn't work. And then I rolled over the car,” Clark said.
Clark said the driver's speed was a concern to them. The accident occurred behind Zimerman at an intersection with several other pedestrians and cyclists who were also crossing, Clark said. Had their skateboard been damaged, Clark said they would have considered filing a police report.
“I definitely don't feel super safe skating in the road. I never really have because I just don't trust that the cars will see me,” Clark said. “Even though I'm very tall on the skateboard. It's not like I'm hard to see. I just don't feel like they're looking for skateboarders.”
Growing up in Albuquerque, Mattie Rosenbaum – a student at UNM who lives at Lobo Village – said when learning how to drive, she was taught to be a defensive driver and how to keep herself safe from road rage.
“I don’t honk my horn, I don’t flip people off, I avoid making eye contact with everyone and just try to stay in my own lane,” Rosenbaum said.
UNM has never dealt with a serious case of road rage, according to Larry Bitsoih, lieutenant at UNM Police Department.
Since their accident, Clark said they are much more cautious when entering intersections with cars on campus.
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“Even if the car stopped, I try my very best to make eye contact with the driver to establish that they have seen me before I cross. I haven't had any experiences since then … It also definitely slows me down,” Clark said.
Rosenbaum said that students coming to UNM from out of state may not know how to handle unsafe driving. Staying alert and being aware of your surroundings, Rosenbaum said, are some of the best things to do to keep yourself safe from confrontational drivers.
“Stay alert always, don’t get distracted, be mindful of what you say or do,” Rosenbaum said.
Francesca Cicconetti is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @fran_cicconetti.
Francesca Cicconetti is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached on Twitter @fran_cicconetti