How to get attention

Last fall there was a small crime wave of people pretending to be attacked by “Trump supporters” to get attention. News and social media love that stuff. They want to believe, so it must be true.

If you want a similar reaction after a traffic altercation, say “I was obeying the speed limit!” while imagining a little halo above your head. Even if the attacker never said that, the story will be “a driver was shot at while obeying the speed limit!”

Was the driver wearing a seat belt? Was the plate sticker up to date?

Speed rage fits a narrative in news companies, which tend to be run by people who are afraid of speed. NMA activist Ivan Sever tried to get newspapers stop including a statement about speeding in every story about an accident, but as soon as he got off their backs they went back to their old ways.

A teacher used to have a policy that if you complained about a grading mistake he would look over the entire test again, correct his own mistakes, and maybe catch more of your mistakes. Hardly a new attitude — “judge not lest you be judged” is one of the few parts people remember of the Sermon on the Mount.

As they haul sexy vegan PETAn road-rager (really) off to jail, I’m going to be looking at the other party just as closely.

I read a story out of Florida which made me glad both drivers were off the road for a while. Send a copy to all the self-righteous drivers you know. Most of us know losing your temper could land you in jail. I want more people thinking, “if I swerve in front of faster traffic to teach that guy a lesson, I could wind up in the hospital.”

In lawsuits whoever is more in the right wins. But in traffic court both sides can be wrong. I’ve read articles about one drunk driver killing another. Police didn’t treat the survivor as a hero. If you’re driving with a BAC of .10% and hit a driver with a BAC of .11%, you’re still guilty.

If you violate 700 CMR 9.06(9) because you think the driver behind you is violating 700 CMR 9.06(7), you’re still guilty. In common language, that’s brake-checking a tailgater, as one driver who should be taking the bus boasted of doing. There’s no “except to teach somebody a lesson” exception to the rule requiring you to check that starting, stopping, and turning can be done safely.

As I wrote recently, custom is more important than law. If you’re the outlier, you’re the problem. That’s true if you reach for a gun or if you reach for a brake pedal. If you’re the tortoise or the hare.

As the Wall Street Journal observed last year, online “news” has turned into a sea of biased outrage.

But outrage is not news, and “driver attacked while obeying the speed limit!” isn’t either.

The opinions expressed in this post belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Motorists Association or the NMA Foundation. This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. No representations are made regarding the accuracy of this post or the included links.

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