Why it’s wrong to kill someone for tailgating


It’s normally not a good idea, while driving your car merrily down the freeway, to shoot at someone in another nearby vehicle just because they kinda pissed you off. Let’s just say it’s not good form.

But that’s exactly what a Detroit woman did here recently, apparently because she was being tailgated and was scared the guy was trying to drive her off the road. At least that’s what she says and, to be honest, I don’t have that much reason to doubt her. I’ve been driving in Detroit for going on 15 years, and after having driven for lengthy periods of time in two other crazy driver cities (Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale) I can say with confidence that we are much better at scaring the hell out of each other on the road. For this to be the city that introduced the mass-produced vehicle to the world, it always amazes me that we still haven’t learned how to drive the damned things yet. We just step on the gas and expect MFs to move out our damned way. If you don’t know how to ‘bogart’ in Detroit, you won’t last long.

But back to this woman. OK, so she decides it’s OK to fire a loaded weapon on a freeway to get a guy off her tail. I can respect her fear, especially as a woman alone in a vehicle wondering what some crazy male has in mind. A woman does have to be careful, and a woman definitely needs to know how to protect herself out here. It’s not the Wild Wild West as some would like to portray it, but it is   still a big city, even if we are  shrinking at the speed of light. But self-protection has its limits. There are rules for just about everything.

Rule #1: If you feel your life may be in danger, don’t take out everybody in the surrounding area.

Assuming that this woman is not a professional hitwoman or a heavily-decorated military sharpshooter, it’s terrifyingly easy to imagine a potential could-have-happened-instead disaster where the woman misses and the bullet crashes through someone else’s passenger-side window and kills a young child. Somebody tell me how she will explain this ‘accident’ as justifiable to the grieving mother? Or what if someone else saw the gun – or flash of gunfire – panicked, swerved reflexively, and caused a massive car  crash that results in numerous deaths and injuries? Once again; where is the script for the acceptable “this is why Mommie won’t be coming home for dinner” explanation?

Here’s the thing, and it’s really not that complicated; if we’re going to live together in this city, we need to keep our fear factor in check. It’s OK to be afraid, and it’s  Basic Urban Intelligence 101 to stay on your guard, but there’s no need to hunt bunny rabbits with machine guns, you know what I’m sayin’? Let’s just take a deep breath, keep things in proportion, and dial it down a bit, all right? We’re cruising into summertime , festival season is about to kick into gear, the weather is like one big kiss on the cheek, and we need to squeeze every livin’ drop of enjoyment out of this if it kills us.

OK. Bad choice of words. But you get my point, right? Look, I know reports are coming out saying we’re about to slide off the face of the earth, nobody can get a job, and those who have jobs are losing them. But believe it or not this isn’t the time to panic. This is the time to become more calm than we’ve ever been because being calm, thoughtful, analytical, and methodical is the only way we’re going to get through this.

So don’t ride all up on that car’s bumper ( like I usually do), and don’t pull a gun on somebody just because that fool cut you off and he’s driving an ugly car (which I don’t usually do but have seriously considered once or twice).

It’s time to expel winter, breathe summer, and cherish each and every opportunity to smile while we figure out how to create many more such opportunities. And always remember: survival in Detroit is a growth industry.


~ by Keith A. Owens on March 30, 2007.

4 Responses to “Why it’s wrong to kill someone for tailgating”

  1. I purged road rage from my system when it dawned on me that the person who cut me off … probably didn’t know it. That person continued on to work or home or whereever oblivious to the rage that (s)he tapped into by their slipshod driving habits. On the other hand, I used to come to work p’d off and ready to tell everyone that I met about the jerk who cut me off.

    At some point I realized that it was stupid to allow this unknown person to steal my joy. Instead, I just take a deep breath … and praise the Lord for my continued ability to breathe, walk and enjoy the beauty of the coming moments, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries … uhhh … well, I thanked Him that my car didn’t get wrecked.

    Instead of shooting someone … just count your blessings and move on with your day. Never a good idea to let others steal our joy!

    peace, Villager

  2. Exactly my point, Villager. Exactly. I must admit I’m still recovering, but at some point – especially at my age – a light does begin to go on that there are so many more reasons to smile. Or to make someone else smile. And, as you so aptly said, it is never worth letting anyone steal your joy because sometimes your joy is your only weapon…

  3. Tailgating is a deadly threat to the life of the one being followed. It should be treated that way. So how does it feel to have some worthless scum on your bumper doing 80 mph, threatening your life, not “stealing your joy” but very close to stealing you life? If your “joy” is your only weapon, then you are defensless. When they bury you, the stone can say that your “joy” was stolen. Big comfort to your family. Live like a victim, die like one. I say make it too costly to tailgate, make it so that the scum is equally threatened. Be afraid to tailgate and threaten the lives of innocent decent people.

  4. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your views, Zerotol. I appreciate it.

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