Father campaigning against road rage

Joe Edmonds had never heard of road rage before Jan. 29, 2000—the night a fatal car crash killed his eldest son, Jason, and two of his friends.
Now he runs the Jason Edmonds Foundation for Road Safety, dedicating his life to stopping this roadway killer.
“Every car on the road is something that can kill you,” Edmonds told delegates attending the World Health Organization’s safe communities conference here last Thursday.
Edmonds held nothing back as he described how 90 seconds of reckless driving took away the brilliant smile and acting dreams of his son.
It began when Chris, the driver of the car his son was in, honked at and then passed a van that didn’t proceed past a stop sign.
The two drivers continued violently passing each other until Chris lost control of his car. It soared over the median and was hit by a northbound vehicle, turned sideways, and was hit again by a mini-van.
“I went to the morgue at Victoria hospital to identify my son’s body,” Edmonds recalled softly. “I pictured him torn apart, bloody, a mess.
“When I saw him lying there on a cold slab in the room, he was looking like he was asleep. I wished I could wake him up but I couldn’t.”
Jason died of internal injuries at the age of 23. His friends, Shaun Lodge and Stewart Farnum, also were killed in the crash.
When a headline in the London Free Press about the accident read “Road rage lead to fatal crash,” Edmonds learned everything he could about the often violent driver behaviour—and how to stop it.
He told delegates road rage was caused by aggressive driving such as tailgating, speeding, sudden lane changes with no signal, and running yellow lights.
“You see it all the time. I’m going to get through that yellow at all costs,” he said. “If I have to wait for that light, it’s only 30 seconds to one minute. It’s not worth dying for.”
Edmonds added passive driving—such as slow or inconsistent speed, hogging the passing lane, not allowing other cars to merge, and not moving promptly at a stop sign or traffic light—also leads to road rage.
In the last decade, the American Automobile Association said road rage has increased 10 percent. Headlines in Canada now describe people who have killed or assaulted fellow drivers for something as trivial as cutting them off.
“Quite a few years ago, I did some pretty aggressive driving. I now say I’m a recovering aggressive driver,” Edmonds admitted after recounting an almost deadly incident eerily similar to the one that killed his son.
There are a number of ways to avoid road rage. Edmonds suggested deep breathing and relaxing when another driver angers you. Don’t shake fists or blare horns at fellow drivers, which can be seen as aggressive.
And never pull to the side of the road to confront someone—they might assault you or even have a gun.
“If someone follows you, do not go home. Drive to a police station or a fire station, a hospital, or even a mall because if they follow you home, now they know where you live,” he remarked.
“Before you react, remember that many people have died because of what you might be contemplating,” Edmonds stressed.
When travelling with an aggressive or dangerous driver, Edmonds suggested distracting them from the situation by talking about something else, asking to stop for something to eat or to go to the bathroom, or even insisting to stop because you feel the driver is dangerous.
“If you ride with someone who drives aggressively or dangerously, you have to say something,” he urged, staring at the young students in the crowd.
“If a friendship ends, so be it. It’s far better to lose that friendship than for your family to lose you.”

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