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Today's word on journalism

Friday, May 12, 2006


PETERSBORO, Utah -- Gloom like a Bulwer-Lyttonesque pall hung heavily over the Cache Valley as word came that the WORD had gone.

"As he stared at her ample bosom, he daydreamed of the dual Stromberg carburetors in his vintage Triumph Spitfire. . . ." No, wait. . . . That's actual Bulwer-Lyttonism. Scratch it.

We conclude, with joy and trumpets and a tankard or two, the 10th season of TODAY'S WORD ON JOURNALISM. What began in 1995 as a professor's strategy to get his students to read email (guess that worked!) now has spread, birdflu-like, far beyond that unwilling audience to self-flagellating WORD volunteers on five-and-a-half continents. But the willing and unwilling alike--the halt and addled and addicted and deluded--will have to get a life and smell the roses, for a while anyway.

Today marks the end of the WORD for this academic season. Even ere the rosy dawn that didth bust o'er this glade, this vale, this happy home. . . . ooops. Avert already, Sir Bulwer, you mangy cur!!!!

See you in the fall. . . TP

Fast food, high-speed Internet and fast pace driving -- society is in a rush

By Andy Beck

April 4, 2006 | Many people are in a hurry and some say they don't think there is time to slow down and relax.

This may be due to the self-imposed desire to maintain a competitive edge over their perceived competition or because of competing demands on people's daily schedules. Whatever the reasons, attitudes like these can spill over to those off us on the road in a dangerous situation. Our communities are designed and structured in such a way that it's almost always necessary for us to have a vehicle to get around. Without a vehicle, it can be hard to function on a normal basis.

When we combine this with our society becoming more used to instant communications, the problem becomes bigger. We are always under increased time and work pressures. Some of us continue working while behind the wheel, using cell phones to call or text message. This is the way things are going and it is getting crazy out there. Driving is a full time job. But too many of us are using it as time to get other stuff done. Drivers are becoming more aggressive then ever. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Some drivers see the traffic ahead of them as an obstacle to overcome at any cost."

I get super frustrated with all the traffic and slow drivers out there, said Meg Hess, a senior in Public Relations, "it drives me nuts."

Iowa's Department of Transportation (IDOT) said there is no national definition for the term road rage. However, it's commonly defined as a societal condition where motorists lose their temper in reaction to a traffic disturbance. In most cases, the traffic situations encountered are typical of today's normal driving conditions and higher traffic volumes. One of the other reasons they have sited is aggressive driving.

Aggressive driving refers to an angry motorist attempting to intentionally injure or kill another driver because of a traffic dispute. An aggressive driver reacts negatively and uses their vehicles to retaliate by making sudden, threatening maneuvers. Some are provoked by the actions of another driver; others are set off by roadway congestion. But, most are caused by the drivers' own moods and reactions when they get behind the wheel.

Lindy Phippen, a senior majoring in public relations, said "it's outrageous" that people are so sensitive and they "need to get over it."

Drivers who are aggressive cross all age, race, socioeconomic and gender lines. Even the most easy going individual can blow their top behind the wheel. These folks may only get pissed off when they're on the road. IDOT said, "Persons who are characteristically cynics, rude, angry or aggressive are prone to get angry more often. Those persons are "raging" at home, at work and on the road." Some common irritants listed by the IDOT that may cause road rage are:

  • Tailgating to pressure a driver to go faster or get out of the way.

  • Flashing lights in order to signal persons to move to another lane.

  • Obscene gesturing.

  • Changing lanes without signaling.

  • Blasting the horn.

  • Frequently changing lanes by weaving back and forth.

  • Racing to beat a yellow light that's about to turn red.

  • Traveling in the passing or left lane at a slower speed, making it impossible for others to pass.

  • Driving with the high beams on behind another vehicle or toward oncoming traffic.

  • Cutting people off.

  • Slowing down after passing someone.

  • Not making a right turn in the right-hand turn lane.

  • Not reacting quickly after the red light turns green.

If you get involved in a road rage incident there are a few things that you can do to protect yourself in the car. Shoot the other person with a gun. Okay if you took that one seriously then you need therapy. Do not respond with an angry gesture or action. Keep a Sorry Sign in the car and use it when needed. According to awesome library, "In a car, only one method is effective in conveying an apology: A sign. We have found that it is very effective in warding off anger. In fact, many drivers actually smile when we raise a Sorry Sign to them after we have accidentally done something wrong. Keep a sign in the map holder on the driver's door and the passenger's door. It could also be kept under the sun visor if it is fastened with a clip or rubber band so that it doesn't hit you in the face when the visor comes down."

Road rage can happen because you cut in front of another driver, or reasons that were not intentional. An apology is key in reversing the process. Sometimes angry drivers will drop the matter if the other driver acknowledged they made a mistake. If they don't, road rangers will teach the careless driver a lesson, one they may not live to regret.

According to my dear old Dad, "He who drives away, lives to drive another day."


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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