Are road rage and maddening traffic congestion linked?
Traffic fatalities have gone up in Massachusetts in recent years, but is anyone tracking road rage incidents? There have been a few notable ones in the last few months and weeks.
In Danvers last month, a 33-year-old woman from Gloucester duked it out with a 64-year-old Beverly woman on the roadway of Route 128, leading to charges against both.
Earlier this month on Interstate 93 in Andover, State Police responded to reports of a fistfight in the breakdown lane, but they didn’t make it there in time to talk to the assailants.
Last week, a 33-year-old Avon man and another driver allegedly flashed weapons at each other while driving down Interstate 93 southbound.
And let’s not forget the bizarre and potentially deadly encounter earlier this year that saw one driver clinging to the hood of his adversary’s vehicle at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour on the Massachusetts Turnpike.
What is going on? Around two thirds of commuters in Massachusetts feel stressed, angry or frustrated by delays in their travel, according to a MassINC Polling Group survey released this week. It’s hardly a leap to suggest some drivers are taking out their anger on those around them.
The Baker administration has commissioned a study looking at traffic congestion hot spots, which is due out in the next few months.
A study put out by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety in 2016 found that over the course of one year, 51 percent of drivers purposefully tailgated, 45 percent honked out of anger or frustration, 4 percent got out of their vehicle to confront someone, and 3 percent purposefully bumped or rammed another vehicle. That 3 percent adds up to 5.7 million drivers.
All of those behaviors can escalate a traffic dispute into something more serious, Mary Maguire, director of public and legislative affairs for AAA Northeast, told the Salem News for a story Wednesday.
“You would never walk down a sidewalk and shout at someone, you wouldn’t try to trip someone or push someone,” Maguire said. “Yet when we get in our cars, we forget some of the manners we would exhibit in face-to-face contact.”
Maguire and others have backed a road safety bill that would crack down on the use of cellphones by drivers. Cellphones can distract those behind the wheel leading to fatal crashes. One minor irony is the reason many of these latest road rage incidents have received so much attention is the cellphone video – captured not necessarily by a driver – of the dramatic and dangerous standoffs.
The Senate passes legislation pushed by Senate President Karen Spilka that would allow “nonbinary” people to identify their sex as X on their driver’s license and eventually birth certificates. (MassLive)
Spilka also said the state should consider expanding the number of tolls across the state. (State House News)
Gov. Charlie Baker is pushing hard for lawmakers to take up his housing bill. (Boston Globe)
State Rep. Russell Holmes filed a budget amendment, which was voted down yesterday, to rollback pay raises the Legislature approved two years ago that bumped the extra compensation for speaker and other House leadership positions. (Boston Herald)
A Berkshire Eagle editorial says Lenox should approve a land transfer to make the Sawmill Brook affordable housing complex a reality. The vote, according to the editorial, is about “what kind of town and populace they want to have, now and in the future.”
The Sandwich Historic District Committee has approved an application to install polymer siding instead of wood on one of the town’s most iconic buildings after 37 years of appeals. (Cape Cod Times)
Joe Biden reached out to Anita Hill before announcing his run for president to apologize for his treatment of her during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, but the apology didn’t cut it with Hill. (New York Times) Michael Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic presidential nominee, says that Biden, his rival of three decades ago, has “a way to connect with the vast majority of Americans, which we kind of lost in 2016.” (WBUR)
Rep. Ayanna Pressley wades into the debate over felon voting rights, siding with Bernie Sanders in saying incarceration shouldn’t bar someone from casting a ballot. (Boston Globe)
Could John Tierney, ousted from his congressional seat by Seth Moulton, be considering a comeback? (Boston Globe)
An attorney hired by the North Andover school district recommended scrapping so-called school safety plans that restricted the movement of sexual assault victims, but parents want more answers. (Eagle-Tribune)
Dennis and Yarmouth residents are debating an impending vote on a proposed update to the D-Y regional school agreement. The decision has the potential to shape the school district for generations to come, but approving the update would cost Dennis more than $5 million over the next five years alone, according to projections by two Dennis selectmen. (Cape Cod Times)
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, once a firm opponent of so-called “safe injection sites” for intravenous drug addicts, reiterated his new support for the approach, saying, “we would absolutely 100 percent save lives” if such a program were adopted. (Boston Globe)
Under pressure from Uber and Lyft and their customers, Massport scales back its aggressive anti-congestion plan at Logan International Airport to lower the proposed fees on ride-hailing and allow curbside drop-offs for a significant part of the day. Uber still wasn’t pleased, however. (CommonWealth)
Congresswoman Lori Trahan plans to unveil a plan Monday to clean up the Merrimack River, which is polluted by sewage. (Lowell Sun)
Federal fishing regulators have closed off the northern Gulf of Maine area to the scallop fishery for nearly a year. (Associated Press)
MGM makes hundreds of job cuts, including a few at the company’s new casino in Springfield. (MassLive)
A Newton district court judge and a former court officer were indicted by US Attorney Andrew Lelling for helping an undocumented immigrant evade immigration authorities. Lelling said the case was about the rule of law, but Attorney General Maura Healey said it was a misuse of prosecutorial resources. (State House News)
A former Dedham cop spent only a few minutes in handcuffs before Judge Robert C. Cosgrove stayed his sentence, pending appeal. Michael Schoener was convicted by a jury Wednesday of being an accessory before the fact of the kidnapping of 37-year-old James Robertson, who was taken to a garage in Canton in 2014 and beaten to death. (Brockton Enterprise)
The Improper Bostonian, which became the go-to source for lifestyle coverage in the area over its nearly 28-year run, announced that it’s ceasing publication. (Boston Globe)
Erik Wemple documents how Fox News distorts the news, using as an example coverage of President Trump’s desire to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. (Washington Post)
Natick Pegasus, the cable TV access station, is facing an uncertain future. (MetroWest Daily News)PASSINGS
Boston Celtics legend John Havlicek, the team’s all-time leading scorer, has died at age 79. (Boston Globe)