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Miami drivers not raging - just confused

By: staff

Date: Sunday, 03. June 2007

Most likely, Miamians, if that's what inhabitants of Florida's tourist mecca call themselves, are paying little attention to winning the "worst road rage city in North America" accolade for the second straight year.

When they won it last year, Miami Herald reporter Larry Lebowitz shot back with an accusation that the survey that gave them that title was "nothing more than a well-executed ploy by a little-known automobile club in Norwalk, Conn., called AutoVantage, to drum up some publicity in its quest to lure paying customers away from AAA."

What irked Lebowitz most was the 'road rage' part of the title. "Road rage is bloody. Road rage is criminal," he wrote in last year's article. "Getting p.o.'d because the moron in front of you is too busy yammering on the phone to see that the traffic light has changed from red to green - it's aggravating, but it's not road rage."

Of course Lebowitz is right. When hosted a major online conference on road rage and aggressive driving back in the fall of 2000 the difference between rage, aggression and just plain old bad driving was a hot topic. Many safety experts bemoaned the fact that the media use the term 'road rage' more as a tool for hype than as a description of reality on the roads.

At any rate, Lebozitz maintains that the AutoVantage survey was superficial. Prince Market Research, who conducted last year's survey for AutoVantage, interviewed only 100 people in each of the 20 major metro areas surveyed nationwide, he wrote. The small samples make the results suspect, he added.

Miami's different

However, maybe there's another reason not to take the survey too seriously. Miami, with its latin culture, throngs of tourists and thriving business life, is one of the most exciting cities in the U.S., but this diversity makes it prone to greater traffic friction.

Harmony in traffic comes when all road users are "playing to the same music," with common understandings of rules and appropriate behavior. That's hard to do in a city with more than its share of aging drivers, drivers in rented cars who aren't sure where they're going, decaying infrastructure and appallingly bad road signs, signals and pavement markings.

Following this years second-in-a-row 'road rage' win Miami Herald readers were given a little survey of their own. They were asked to agree or disagree with the AutoVantage survey. However, one of the options they could check off was probably more on target than the rest. It read - "Unfair. South Florida roads are chock full of out-of-towners whose bad driving is not our fault."

That could be a good partial excuse but it smacks of finger-pointing as a justification for Miami drivers' poor rating . What's more realistic is recognition of the unique challenges of a city with a very difficult road culture.

Changing Miami

If Miami wants to change its driving image it could do worse than to call Larry Lonero of Northport Associates.

Lonero and his colleague Kathryn Clinton are the authors of a survey completed some years ago titled "Changing Road User Behavior". In this comprehensive review of all the efforts over the years to change driver behavior, the authors came to the conclusion that any real changes to driving behavior and road culture would involve a comprehensive strategy with a variety of targeted programs, and lots of follow-up.

Not politically easy to do, Lonero concludes. Governments at all levels, he reckons, have a tendency to push simple, high profile programs that get media splash and give an impression that something is being done rather than really achieving.

"Driving behavior is powerfully influenced by driving culture," Lonero says. "This is made up of the common practices, expectations, and informal rules that drivers learn by observation from others in their communities and that shape their behavior."

"Driving cultures vary from region to region and even from community to community," Lonero explains. Drivers pick up information from observing others but also from media buzz about thousands of issues and events. A driving culture can be changed, he believes, if drivers educators, trainers, police, media and safety organizations coordinate their efforts and create a carefully planned and sequenced series of programs aimed at influencing behavior.

There have been successful cultural changes, when these requirements are met, he points out. He cites seat belt use and drunk driving as examples.

However, Lonero points out, the entire effort would require a broad front of partnerships and a long-term commitment.

Getting all of Miami's road users on the same page would require identifying target groups, tailoring messages for them, testing, evaluating - a concerted effort that would in itself be as pervasive as the roadway culture it is intended to achieve.

In short, a huge commitment, not necessarily of dollars but certainly of effort, persistence and especially collaboration.

That's Lonero's dream, but for now he doesn't see much of it. Most of the responses to road rage and driver misbehavior he sees these days seems to be more of the "seen-to-be-doing-something," smoke and mirrors variety.

"It's hard for organizations and bureaucrats to cooperate," he says. " Unless there is a perceived crisis, there is not usually enough political will to force organizations into giving up some of their autonomy and their, necessarily weak, individual programs."

That last part has always been the bane of road safety advocates. With natural disasters and wars siphoning off public energy and political will, the situation on roads slips by under the radar, year after year.

Ed. Note: Apart from the huge toll in stress from driver aggravation and rage, the death toll on U.S. roads is about 43,000 per year - far outstripping wars and hurricanes.

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I have been in and out of Miami for many years, and have lived in Florida for many years. The drivers in this city are absolutely dangerous and have no regard for human life. Over half of them can't speak or read English and no doubt can't even read street signs. These vermin drive like the road was built for them.

These filthy drivers will cut you off, change lanes numerous times without signaling, and hardly ever stop at stop signs or red lights. If your at a red light and the front vehicle in the lane, if you don't hit the gas exactly 2.2 seconds after the light changes green someone will be honking at you!

Another habit these disgusting locals tend to do is speed off when the light turns green, only to hit the brakes a few hundred meters at the next light that turned red. To me thats hilarious.

Most of the locals will NOT stop for predestrians. It is very unsafe to use a crosswalk in this city as the dirty locals have no regard for human life, and only care about the phone call thats more important than driving safely on the road.

Most of the locals who drive probably don't even have insurance, so drive at your own risk.

The posted speed limit is a joke and only serves as a target to shoot at or throw waste all over. Overall, driving in Miami will rasie your blood pressure and cause you to become a highly defensive driver.


BS! it's the knuckehead cubans silly

Michele Morgan,

Here's my contribution to drivers with bad behavior:

So 480-WRQ, Mitsubishi Mirage, what was that, a wine-colored car? Oh, boy did I want to absolutely do some very, very bad things to you. There were no shades of gray. I could see in color what I wanted to do to you. Hmmm…yep, I had some very bad thoughts.

Let’s see how it went…oh, yes, you were speeding and cut me off and I beeped at you and you so graciously gave me the finger. And I got pissed and, coming up behind you at the red light, I called you “a piece of trash and you were classless.” Yep, that’s how it went. Then I wrote down your license plate number and here we are. Another woman giving the finger to another woman. Yuck! Another woman yelling out her car window at another woman. Double Yuck!

So there are a couple of things I’d like to say to you, maybe some sage advice, but you be the judge. One, stop speeding. Two, keep your finger in your car. And here’s why: speed kills and someone is going to smash the crap out of your finger one day. Yep. I can predict it. Someone, maybe another woman, is going to get out of her car and she’s going to come up to your car. She will be having a very, very bad day. And she’s going to be very mad. Why? Maybe she can’t make the rent or the mortgage. Maybe her kids don’t respect her. Maybe she’s getting downsized or laid off at work. Maybe she’s just plain evil. Who knows. But you really need to be careful.

Now, here’s the twist in this little story…I’m grateful to you. What? Yes, grateful. Why you ask? Well, this is why. I completely lost myself. I had to think very hard why it was that I would waste my time on you. And then it hit me…I was spiritually bankrupt. This was my problem. You do have your problems, but losing my temper was my problem. My wanting to see you suffer for such a distasteful act was not appropriate and several minutes lost out of my life forever. While there are others who might applaud this, and I was applauding myself for a while, I really got mad at myself.

I had to do a little soul searching and I had to then get rid of my resentment towards you. And I did, and I will continue. And I had to be grateful for the fact that those that come into your life, even for a moment, which you did, can impact you. And nobody said it was always going to be a great encounter. What is important is how the encounter ends up. And for me, I’m forgiving you. Why? Because it makes me feel better. I’ll continue to say a resentment prayer for you. Why? Because it makes me feel better. I’ll remember to be grateful for this writing platform and for having the wisdom, albeit not as quickly as I’d like, but having it nonetheless to get “into action.” Why? Yes, you know the answer…because it makes me feel good.

So Miami license plate 480-WRQ, Mitsubishi Mirage, yes, I think it was a wine-colored car, thank you for the encounter. I feel good!


hi how is every thing goig


this whole artical is very very important


I moved to Doral/Miami about a yr ago from Long Island NY.
I have never seen such aggressive drivers as I have seen here. I blame the MAYOR 100% as he simply doesnt care.
People will do what they can get away with. In NY they had unmarked police cars who would pull you over and ticket you if you drove as insane as its common here to drive.
The speed limit here is a joke and weaving in and out of traffic while going 20 mph or MORE over the speed limit and tail gating isnt even considered bad driving.
For the tiny amount of people living here compared to NY this place is a "West World" as far as horrible drivers and useless politicians go.


My experience indicates drivers in Latin countries tend to drive with more 'gutso' than northern european drivers. Examples include Spain & Italy. As for parking, well anywhere there is space, and not more than two inches away from the next vehicle.

I cannot say that I found any difference driving in Florida than California or New Jersey.

The biggest problem in the UK is truckers from europe, sitting on the left of the cab, not used to driving on the left side of the road and not using their mirrors properly. Far too may accidents, I live near the main ferry port to France, there are thousands of these vehicles every day.....

Tom S,

Good article. Here in Chicagoland the driving aggression generally increases the closer U get to downtown it seems. But, little things might be changing such as adding traffic light cameras in the city. So many people getting tickets in the mail now.


If they would deport all Illegals the roads would not be congested because over half the drivers would be gone. Nice thought :)


Beforethey can become citizens they need to be able to speak English. They have already taken over Dade County. DEPORT ALL ILLEGALS


Speak English or GO HOME!!

Rafael Angel,

Esta buena


Good article, thanks.

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