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Road rage

Original post made by Bambi, another community, on Apr 17, 2013

Just yesterday I was followed by a man who had the worst road rage I have ever seen. He was upset that he felt I cut him off merging from Alma to Oregon Expwy, where we all merge and usually allow others to come in between us off of the Expwy. He hit his gas and staring honking at me and I waved back. He followed me and threatened my life and family. He took a photo of my car and came up next to me and said he would kill me while I slept. It was more like a terrorist threat to cause me fear. He stopped on El Camino and blocked me from driving, He attempted to intimidate and scare me. He intended to keep this up until I had to run a red light and turn into traffic leaving the area.

Here is Palo Alto the traffic congestion is getting worse and worse. Road rage seems to be a real problem. Not just on highways but on our own city streets.

Has this happened to you here in Palo Alto? Did you also engage with this person yesterday?

Comments (30)

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Posted by call the police
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 17, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Did you report him to the police? If not, why not?

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Posted by Bambi
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Yes I actually got the PA PD on the phone and stayed on the phone while trying to get closer to an area they could get to me. WHen I got stopped at El Camino and Embarcadero he got next to me and while a red light he kept up the rage and looked to be getting something and I panicked and ran the red light and turned towards Stanford University and he went right. He had an iphone and took a photo and said he will get to me. The PA PD says that he can not locate me by my car license. Hs car was new and did not have plates. He was unfortunately very convincing and he not only sounded like a terrorist but he kinda looked like one. He was in a brand new Prius. Seemed odd really acting that way driving a car that saves energy.
He totally lost control. I will never forget his face.

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Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 6:58 am

I would think that the police can find him by virtue of knowing the color of his Prius, the fact that it was brand new, the location of the incident and his physical description. There's no excuse for road rage like that.

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Posted by What really happened
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 18, 2013 at 7:15 am

This story sounds fishy--the ramps from Alma to Oregon have either stop signs or yields at the end. Cars on Oregon are driving pretty fast at that area--there really is no "where we all merge and usually allow others to come in between us" . Maybe you did cut him off-sounds like you were heading towards El Camino--that on ramp is near a curve in the road, so visibility is not the greatest and that is why there is a stop sign at the end of the on ramp. Did you come to a complete stop?
No excuse, though for his actions, if they did occur as you describe.

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Posted by Bambi
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2013 at 8:22 am

Yes I know I drive Alma most days. His car was not going fast and when I merged there was traffic and not at all cutting him off. I think he was mad already as he gunned his car and starting honking at me wildly. I wound not intentionally cut anyone off. Each morning cars allow someone to merge from Alma and at that time of day in the afternoon I am well aware they do go faster as less traffic. But that day it was heavier traffic and no one was going fast.
He followed me off that first ramp to the right and kept after me for miles I stayed calm and just drove to not allow him to know where I work or live and I did not engage until he came up next to me and starting threatening my life. At that point I called 911 and continued on El Camino talking to the 911 operator. I gave them details and headed towards dwntn. He then got in front of me and stopped trying to cause me harm or me to hit his car I assume. I went around him and continued north and he kept it up. If that light had not turned red I would have gone to the PA PD and driven into the garage of the PD if I could have or gotten close to have him stopped. But when he bent down to get something I gunned it and went thru the red light and in traffic left towards the University.

I was and still am shocked as he used terms I would imagine are used by terrorists to create fear. My voice description is on the 911 recorder well the description of the car dealership name on the back. I am wondering if he is a car salesman.

He had a blue and white checked shirt on with a suit coat ( grey I believe ) and he had a shaved head and was olive skinned.

So yes its as I recall. However he must feel differently to get so upset. Attacking a woman as well. Kinda a weak individual. Who does that except someone unwell and with real anger issues. I shall be careful to avoid such again. But who ever knows what will trigger someone like that.

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Posted by common sense
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 18, 2013 at 10:26 am

Suggestion: Next time, don't run the stop sign and obey all the driving rules. This way, you will not expose yourself to road rage too much.

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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 10:44 am

At that location where I have trouble is always going towards Palo Alto on Alma I always see a lot of people come up from behind me, pass me on the left and then pull right in front of me to make the turnoff on Oregon towards 101 - always when there is plenty of room behind me to just fall in and make the turn. There is no time saved, they just seem to do it for the thrill of cutting in front or someone. I don't get why people do this but they seem to just love to do that.

A similar situation always occurs on Alma coming into downtown Palo Alto in that little narrow section over Embarcadero. People will come up really fast from behind and pass on the right to get over the overpass before the people who are in the normal lane.

Palo Alto should put a solid white line with exit only on that lane to prevent people from doing that and get them to merge sooner properly instead of jumping in at the last minute.

I can see getting mad while driving, but yelling threats at people is way over the line ... if that is, in fact, what he did. I always try to pay attention to what people are doing around me because I just try to be fair and nice while I drive these days.

There are always some people who have to be jerks. I see them on 101 driving in and out through traffic to get ahead of the flow ... and as much work and energy as they spend to get in front of cars mostly as traffic slows down there they show up in the lane next to me that slows down while I again pass them.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 18, 2013 at 10:59 am

There are various problem areas and rude drivers.
I am appalled at the drivers who refuse to agree by the civilized merging of one car from this lane, one from the other and so on.
A big problem is going onto 101 South from Embarcadero; a lot of people merging into us from Oregon zip multiple cars ahead instead of what they should do at the point I am describing (one car from Embarcadero, one car from Oregon). It makes our entry onto 101 a lot longer and their rudeness is frustrating. I would like to see a lot more police and highway patrol enforcement of 101 and entry/exit areas of 101.
Did the Prius have dealer plates? I ask because I noticed a "new" dealer car racing down Embarcadero recently over 101 and into the nearby gas station, and it was obviously someone from the dealership not a test driver or I assume new owner; but the guy was kinda going fast and "could have" been traced, although this particular case was not worth reporting.
The red light running is getting scary around here; I phoned in an incident recently because it was SO egregios and breathtaking, with a distintive colored luxury car (didn't have plate #) and police said they don't have staff to deal with this (I suggested staking out same place/same time next day as I assume this was a VC or similar dude driving up to Stanford off of 101...) Too bad they can't set up for these dangerous drivers who I truly think will be there again in same timeframe...hate to see some innocent person almost get killed/hit like I almost was...
And please quit talking on your cells while driving.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Whether someone sees it as civilized or not, it doesn't matter under the vehicle code/law. If you have a Yield sign, you do not have the right of way to merge into traffic at the inconvenience of the drivers on the road you're trying to access. Same goes with a stop sign - you have to wait for an opening and no one is obligated to slow down to let you in.

If someone let's you in, great. But you can't just run your car out into the lane and expect people to let you're the one that is suppose to yield/stop, not them.

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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm

anonymous - what you mentioned about the oregon-southbound 101 onramp is very true and real pain.

the only solution i can see to this oregon-101 configuration-induced road-rage-generator is to combine the two lines of traffic together at the same time to time the entrance onto the freeway.

so, they should just move the red-green light timer forward on the onramp, and then not let their be such a long merge lane after it.

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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Crescent Park Dad ...

You're wrong about that, a driver is OK to drive where there is a lane, so it is strictly legal for a driver to drive out to the end of that merge lane and then "request" to be let in ... at that point the merge process is the same as it is anywhere ... which means you do have to cooperate with another drive you don't necessarily like to allow them to merge. if a police officer saw you cutting such a driver off and not letting them in - you would be at fault because the driver who went all the way to the end did not do anything illegal.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm

I agree if there isn't a sign. But when there is a Yield sign at the tail end of the on-ramp, then you're responsible for waiting until it is safe to enter the road. You can't just jump in and expect people to slow down or get out of your way.

Various points on Yield from the DMV:

A three-sided red YIELD sign means you must slow down and be ready to stop, if necessary, to let any vehicle, bicyclist, or pedestrian pass before you proceed.


What does yield really mean? Failure to yield the right-of-way to other drivers is one of the top 5 causes of accidents in the U.S. Yield means to let other drivers, pedestrians, and bicycles have the right-of-way before you proceed. Sadly, 1,000s of accidents which could have been avoided are caused each year by drivers failing to yield the right-of-way. Again, simply following the letter of the law could save you a lot of pain and suffering.

Not saying people can be nicer on the roads. But when all else fails, you need to follow obey the traffic signs.

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Posted by PA Native
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 18, 2013 at 8:05 pm

What gets me is when I let someone in and they don't even wave in gratitude!

What gets me is when a car drives to the corner and turns right instead of following the law that states the care must FIRST pull into the bike lane when the bike lane line breaks, before reaching the corner.

What gets me is when someone honks in anger. This is a clear sign that the person is not a Palo Altan because Palo Altans have more class than to honk. Horns are supposed to be used only for urgent issues, such as an impending car crash.

What gets me is when I miss a green light because everyone is checking their phones so they take longer to notice the green light.

What gets me is when someone waves me to go when legally, it's their turn to go.

What gets me is people who can't understand who goes next in a 4-way stop.

What gets me is all these non-Palo Alto residents cutting through out city.

All these gripes need to be overlooked because we can't change the world. Ignorance IS bliss.

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 18, 2013 at 8:54 pm

In my post, I was referring to a clear situation where it is one car from one lane, then one from the other to merge together, NOT a situation where MY lane has a "Yield" sign. I assume we can distinguish the difference in these two situations.
What I am noting is the time when some drivers race ahead of their turn and if a car ahead of you/me is too slow, they get taken advantage of, this builds at times into complete unfairness as multiple drivers don't take turns and push ahead, and there is a big delay for the lineup of courteous, normal drivers entering from Embarcadero. In other words, if you're not assertive in taking what is fairly owed to you then you get super taken advantage of and everyone behind that person, too. I realize you have to let it go - what alternative is there - but it is nasty that some folks are greedy, rude, and disrespect others when entering from Oregon. I would like to see periodic police enforcement.

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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 19, 2013 at 3:22 am

> PA Native

So true.

Except I think the one exception is pulling into the right lane / bicycle lane if you are going to turn right - I don't think you are required to do that. I presumed the thinking on that was that there are more bikes now and cars should not be in the bike lane. I'm not positive about that though.

Does anyone know for sure?

> What gets me is when someone waves me to go when legally, it's their turn to go.

This one I find particularly annoying ... one would think driving is as complicated as brain surgery for how many mistake people make and how bad they are at it. People are just wasting everyone's time and making it more likely in the future they and others will not just follow the convention - just go when it's your turn!

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Posted by Bambi
a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2013 at 6:32 am

TO anonymous, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood

Yes the dealer plate was blue and white and I think it said "Scotts" as the dealership name.
I left all details with police while driving El Camino. That certainly would be him as he realized I called police and listen there must be cameras that show us on El Camino as well.

He was driving crazy. He did go down Embarcadero to 101-grey Prius NEW and thats was Tuesday early afternoon.

I am pretty considerate as a driver so i do not believe I ran any red stop sign. I do wave thanks as thats an area so challenging for merging traffic off Alma.

Road rage is an illness and someone would really need to be angered already to have acted that way and followed someone threatening them for miles.

I really had forgotten there are cameras at all the stops we were at on El Camino.

With traffic getting heavier this is going ot be a bigger issue for this area.

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Posted by Stop sign
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 19, 2013 at 6:46 am

Both on ramps from Alma to Oregon heading towards El Camino have "Stops" at the end of the ramp. One also has a red stop sign on the wall.
Did you come to a complete and total stop before you merged onto Oregon?? DId you make sure no cars were coming when you merged?
That area is not challenging at all--you come to a complete stop, wait until there is no traffic then enter Oregon. If traffic is backed up, then it is up to the driver on Oregon to let you in or not. Being at a stop sign your only right is to wait until you can safely merge onto Oregon.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2013 at 7:24 am

Yes, it is good driving when turning right to enter the broken line over a bike lane.

However, you must treat any bikes there as you would if this was a lane of other traffic. Signal right turn, check for bikes, enter lane. If there is a bike you give way to it and stay behind the bike. If a bike is behind you it should not come up beside you but stay ahead of you. Unfortunately, drivers and bikes do not understand this rule. It is simple and obvious and very safe if everyone does it right.

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Posted by Katie
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 19, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Since this wacko seems to be on certain roadways avoid these roads and use another street at least you will not be scared out of your wits. Avoid the loons. Must be full moon!

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Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 19, 2013 at 9:47 pm

The vehicle code REQUIRES drivers to merge into a bike lane before turning right. They are required to use their turn signal and yield to any bicyclists in the bike lane, merge to the curb and turn right from there. This is not optional or just safe and polite; it is legally required. See CVC 21717
Web Link

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Posted by Social Butterfly
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 20, 2013 at 4:46 am

Open and shut case here regarding ID~ing this character...the cameras just need to be reviewed~

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Posted by Some Chick
a resident of Woodside
on Apr 20, 2013 at 11:46 am

I had a similar issue traveling on northbound Foothill Expressway where it crosses Page Mill nearing the Dish entrance. I was even a bit ahead of the traffic so I had more than enough room. The man in the car I merged in front of went totally ballistic. It was over a year ago but I'll never forget it, it was very upsetting. I just don't understand this stuff.

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Posted by shock
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 20, 2013 at 3:00 pm

someone got stopped by cop for riding bike too slow! just normal easy coasting and short pedaling limke some do. they think your casing a place out cause your not riding like a racer or something! thry stopped you because of race . they never have stopped any white cyclist for going too slow on a side street with only 3 cars on it for 2 long blocks going too slow, 5 miles an hour is too slow on a bike and you need to get pulled over, no white person on abike in the valley have ever been stopped for going too slow on a quiet street IN BROAD DAYLIGHT! thts the daily frustration of a prejudiced society, tooo slow on a bike. you better pedal at 30 miles per hour or you could be stopped by police car. oh, wait, youre white. you WONT get pulled over . just try it.

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Posted by editors
a resident of Nixon School
on Apr 20, 2013 at 3:03 pm

someone wil make an excuse why they pull you over. ''you looked suspicious''. so do all police.

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Posted by jewish
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 20, 2013 at 3:07 pm

my mom was jewish but still get profiled. cops dont know youre jewish. cant judge book by cover. insult to my mother. shes not around to see the profiling of her kid. mother has been dead before she knew what happened .

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Posted by Stay calm
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Several years ago, I had an experience in the Evergreen area, where a man was angry that I had stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the street. The walkers had been safe, in the center island and another one on the corner, sidewalk.

He followed me onto El Camino Real, honking his horn and gesturing in an ungentlemanly fashion, and to a lady.

When I told a police officer friend about it, he suggested I just drive as I would normally do, not allowing anyone to unravel me, ignoring the person. Now, if I see someone that is upset, I stay calm. It was good advice. People can fluster us so much that we cause an accident, while they breeze on, oblivious.

With lawmakers, VTA, etc., wanting to turn El Camino Real (Hwy 92) into a paseo and bike boulevard, there will be more anger and uncontrolled tempers. Sometimes even I get impatient in traffic, but I still drive carefully, and I still like to be polite to other drives, to pedestrians and to bicyclists.

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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I use a car dash DVR like those used in Russia. After this description, maybe I'll put one of these $40 continuous video devices in back as well.

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Posted by G. McGilvray
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2013 at 2:01 pm

The blessings of freedom are rooted in the rule of law.

When we had our traffic division, ( NINE officers when I moved here to MIDDLEFIELD road) , we were all safer.

Now, the traffic division has been disbanded.

There is no red light running enforcement :
Or speeding enforcement. ........ People know it.

We are a RESIDENTIAL ARTERIAL for which our leaders HAD set up special safety conditions. It was safer when speeding was enforced. PEOPLE DROVE POLITELY.

I'll tell you, they looked happier too.


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Posted by Go Ride
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 23, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Remember when we used to think bikes were the problem on the road? They never really were, it just took a while to see it clearly. Now I wish just 10% of these drivers would get on a bike to get out of our way in traffic. This is why I'm all for bike infrastructure improvements: cuz it'll help me DRIVE in less traffic.

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Posted by sunshine
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 12, 2013 at 11:41 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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