We've all run into drivers who show signs of road rage toward others. They overreact to whatever happens on the road, sometimes shouting, waving their arms, or even using their car as a weapon. There are cases where drivers have pulled guns on others for being cut off or otherwise "dissed".
It's tough enough to deal with when you're in another vehicle, but for a pedestrian it's even more difficult. And the more I use my power chair to get around in what is a somewhat congested area, the more I see how drivers with road rage present a problem for wheelchair users.
I don't cross major highways, but I do cross at intersections that run into highly trafficked areas, like a strip mall. There's no light, so I just wait for traffic to stop, trying to look behind me and around me before I do. However, cars are much quicker than power chairs, especially when you're going from a complete stop and once in a while, I start crossing as a car is coming up behind me. Most drivers wait a few seconds and then turn behind me, but there is the occasional person with road rage who leans on his/her horn, shouts, or turns their car into the intersection before my chair has cleared it, practically touching the back of my chair as they do.(This has also happened at less trafficked intersections, by the way, where people "push" my wheelchair with their front bender while I'm still in the crossroads.)
I consider this behavior road rage from my point of view as a wheelchair user. Honking one's horn , shouting loudly with/without profanities and turning one's car right behind a wheelchair user is dangerous. It startles the wheelchair user, who is trying to navigate across the crosswalk which may contain potholes, debris or other distractions requiring attention. And, of course, it creates an inherently dangerous situation because the driver's car may hit the wheelchair if it stops unexpectedly.
Wheelchair users are pedestrians who have the right of way while crossing the street. Drivers need to remember that people using wheelchairs have limits in physical function that can affect how fast they can get across the street. (That's, uh, why they're in a wheelchair.) I know this seems obvious, but you might be surprised to see how many times drivers ignore this and come right up behind my wheelchair as my quaddy little hand rests on the joystick. Power chairs are not other vehicles. They are wheelchairs.
After some near misses out there, I'm convinced that as more of us in wheelchairs take to the streets, we need better enforcement of pedestrian laws so we can safely share not only the sidewalks, but the crosswalks.
As cases emerge where wheelchair users are ticketed for allegedly violating pedestrian laws, I wonder: where are the tickets for these drivers? Crossing the street should not feel like a death wish.