Because You Are Polite

by Ginger Philbrick

The other day I was stopped behind an older gentleman who was making a right hand turn onto Route 3. He was doing it cautiously, but not taking too much time. Pretty quick for a senior, in fact. As he was making the turn, a car approached on his left, about a car length out, and I noticed that the driver actually sped up and then laid on her horn, bearing down on the gentleman. Luckily, he finished his turn.

I have seen before where drivers speed up to intimidate, but this time I followed the offending driver to say something. When I parked beside her I saw she was on her phone and ignoring my car window open beside her. I left with a question of how to handle what I witnessed. Comment?

ST, White Stone

Dear ST,

It sounds like you had one of those mouth-gaping moments when you couldn’t believe what you were seeing—a deliberate and dangerous move to intimidate another driver. Road rage has become a too-familiar phrase, and it is familiar because there are growing numbers of us who see the road as ours alone.

Maybe we were never taught to share our toys or maybe we never have experienced the feeling of good will that can happen when we defer to others in our path. Whatever keeps us from realizing that driving is indeed a privilege—not a right—and that doing unto others as we would like them to do unto us is not meant to be applied only when it is convenient, also keeps us from being desirable drivers on our roadways.

Your response as an onlooker was to get involved and I completely understand your reaction. However, trying to talk with the offender could have easily backfired and resulted in an even more antagonistic situation. 

A quick check with a helpful deputy at the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office netted me the advice that in such incidents of witnessing road rage, we should not try to involve ourselves directly.  The best action is to call 911 or 462-5111 and report the incident with as much information as possible, including the license number, car description and name of the driver, if known. The information will be immediately broadcast over the radio to all Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office patrolmen and the deputies will be on the lookout for the vehicle. And we are safe.

Kudos for caring, ST!

Ginger Philbrick is the owner of Because You Are Polite LLC. You are invited to email your manners questions to her and she will respond as time and space allow. You may contact her at