Why Do Small Cars Make California Drivers So Angry?

California freeways and highways can be a hostile environment-especially when you drive small cars. However, size and speed don't matter during rush hour gridlock.

A friend of mine recently ditched her SUV and began driving a Toyota Prius. Instead of getting 20 miles to the gallon, she now reports around 47 miles. That's great! She goes to the gas pump half as much and saves thousands of dollars per year in fuel expenses. But there's a phenomenon that my friend had not anticipated-angry drivers who hate small cars.

Switching from a large to small vehicle took some adjustment in thinking, she confesses, but she doesn't drive differently, nor does she go faster or slower than before. However, drivers of SUVs, trucks, and larger sized vehicles come extremely close to her bumper, and they angrily flip her off or speed up when they approach her hybrid.

I wouldn't have believed it but I've seen it- and I've seen it all before. Another friend drives both an SUV and Porsche Boxter, and she told me the very same thing. Car drivers are angry when she drives her little Porsche. I've ridden with both ladies and what they say about car anger is absolutely true! But why?

For insight into the situation, I thought about my own car situation. It has been a constant battle seeing past SUVs when attempting to pull out of places while their big vehicles have blocked my view. For many years I have hoped that California drivers would ditch those gas hogs and begin to see the light.

Maybe there is a little light at the end of the tunnel as gas prices in California are currently around $3.99 - $4. 49, making the concept of owning fuel efficient vehicles more compelling. Smaller cars are creeping into the freeway landscape, day by day, but there's also justice meted out to road ragers. Time and again when I ride with my friend in her Prius I observe SUV anger directed toward us. But more than once, the truck & SUV bullies have been pulled over for speeding and presumably gotten tickets. When it happens, we high five each other. And the great equalizer (rush hour traffic) whips the wind out of everyone's sails as all cars and vehicles are at a standstill.

Sure, there will always be aggressive drivers in California. But when economics make small car ownership the only sustainable solution, it will level the playing field. And that time can't come soon enough.

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