Home NEWS Local Scene Angst Behind The Wheel: Head Banging And Road Raging In Sloburbia

Angst Behind The Wheel: Head Banging And Road Raging In Sloburbia

Photo: Archive

It’s safe to say that all those old ads showing smiling, chisel-jawed drivers motoring down spotless, remarkably uncongested freeways in the far off 50’s lived only in an Ad Man’s imagination, with real-world conditions on local roads proving to be far, far different.

This site received word from reader/commuters of a “nasty accident” on Southbound I680 before Crow Canyon around 6:30 a.m. this morning and crossed our fingers as folks were dispatched to ascertain conditions and, Heaven Forbid, injuries. Instead, they found a driver helplessly stalled in the HOV lanes, banging their head against the car seat in frustration and in everyman’s display of frustration when the motorway gods balk and things just don’t go your way.

Car and driver hauled off the freeway. The southbound surge continued, and we’re waiting for word of the next vehicular meltdown – like the one last night in Moraga.

Yes, Moraga. Quiet little Moraga. Well, our Jungle Drums started beating after two cars tangled on Moraga Road near Draeger Drive around 6:10 p.m. Monday. Okay, it happens, right? Even here. And then the neighbors started to report that one driver appeared to be hurt – and didn’t appear interested in exchanging the requisite information needed after a crash.

The police were dialed up and were on scene when the recalcitrant driver – for reasons known only to her – decided to flee, and did so, firing up her battered car and driving off down Moraga Road and onto Corliss Drive where she apparently tried to put some distance between herself and officers before stopping in the middle of Corliss at Crossbrook and surrendering to the Long Arm of the Law.

The Moragan quickly found herself proned out on the asphalt and an ambulance summoned to tend to some injuries officers found after further inspection, but it turned out alcohol may have been involved (go figure). And while the incident may have been relatively brief it got quite a bit of attention in a town unused to seeing its residents fleeing police and taking off into sedate suburban neighborhoods.

People are wound up, cranked up, and just plain cranky out there, as some who have encountered them on the roads will tell you. Here’s hoping you don’t run into any of them on the road – and that they don’t run into you.



  1. in September, I did a drive from Orinda to Chicago and back. 5200 miles in one week, with a childhood buddy in a vintage car to pick up some sweet European bumpers and a new back seat for said car. Yes, I’m aware these items could have been shipped, but that’s not the point. The most careless / disrespectful driving in all of those 5200 miles were in the East Bay. The dare I say the most aggressive moments were in Lamorinda, on the way to and from the freeway.

    Everyone likes to talk about how friendly and smart and ‘together’ our little enclaves are; but I disagree. People become animals on the road in these here parts. The reasons? I suspect lack of sleep, lack of respect, and a strong feeling of entitlement to all be contributing factors. Add to this new cars with all sorts of ‘save-your-ass’ technology and the distractions of a smartphone, and you have a lot of people who no longer are connected to the task at hand: DRIVING.

    • @GF – Interesting perspective, GF. We always heard it was those Boston drivers you should never step out in front of! We were always in awe of London drivers (where honking ones horn is considered oh, so rude!). But it’s changing even there, we hear. Sticking to our carefully selected back roads!

  2. I’m in the minority, but I don’t let other drivers (or traffic) get to me. I keep it in perspective. If I want to get somewhere (work, pleasure, etc.) no one is going to knock on my front door and politely ask me to join them in their car. I’ll have to drive. So I get in my car and put in good music. Good music really helps, especially for those of us really into music. I enjoy driving, which helps as well. No accidents – no tickets. I’m pulled over occasionally.

    What people need to do is change their mindset. If life (in any capacity) is too easy for you, you probably don’t have one.

    Drive safely!

  3. Nobody realizes that there is currently roadwork on Moraga Road and Dreager Drive. Two lanes have to go down to one. I think that is how it started. Nobody in these towns like to give way to another.

  4. GF made an Illuminating post about East Bay people. My relatives, drove out all the way from New Orleans , said the same. My visiting aunt actually made a very interesting observation and comment.one day as II was driving us around the area here. She made the comment “people aren’t happy here”.
    I , being a total fan this area and is dynamic people, was taken back, but calmly and kindly ask her why she thinks that. She stated that looking at all the drivers faces in our area , that they’re usually tense and angry-looking. She said she hardly ever saw somebody just smiling with a happy look on their face, while driving here in the Bay Area. While I was honestly insulted on behalf of the area I love, I come to see that she was actually right in her assessment. We’ve all become very very stressful in this area and I’m wondering if the good life is not so good after all. I’m now seeing it through a new perspective myself. I’ve probably allowed myself to become one of those frown face drivers too, so I’m always courteous to other drivers and let them in.

    • @GregT – Interesting. We do know people are stressed, but did not think that stress had settled over our area only. We’re happy!

  5. Thanks, @Greg T, for sharing that. As a transplant from Boston (and, @J.D., it’s true; Boston driving is a bit aggressive, but it’s not the same as here – more on that in a moment), I too spent several years completely blinded by how great the Bay Area seemed to be. Let’s just say it was *lust* at first sight. But, familiarity is the enemy of lust, and in a few years, I started to notice the soft underbelly of the region. People are relentlessly tired, but stick around because of the perks.

    Now to be honest, I do still feel strongly that it is a privilege to live here, comfortably at that; but have become increasingly more aware of that sense of privilege. Strangely enough, I am a bit uncomfortable with living so comfortably while many I love are struggling with a lot less. OK, so we have beautiful scenery, fantastic weather, produce — oh! the produce! — and bountiful resources in terms of sunlight, wind, technology, and yes, cash money. It takes a certain level of resources and resourcefulness to live in a community like Lamorinda – and this is where I feel people lose sight of humility.

    I was on MUNI a few months back, and overhead a conversation between a 30-something guy and his new colleague, who’d just moved to SF from elsewhere. The 30-something, born in Berkeley and now living in SF, got it right. He said:

    “San Francisco is in love with itself. No other place spends as much energy celebrating what it used to be than this place…and it’s ridiculous…”

    I think that’s true of the entire area, broadly speaking, and many in our little enclave, it seems, celebrate being in an exclusive zip code outside of San Francisco. An orbit that affords a great view but without the mess and inconveniences of urban living. Many are in love with the fact they CAN live here, not with the community itself. This manifests in all sorts of ways, including even the comments section of this site and the likes of Nextdoor, and certainly out and about.

    For every meanie there are at least two truly nice, grounded people, at least in my experience. The entitled folks are the hardest to deal with, and they treat others like crap on the roads (I’m trying to get this back on topic). That same person will be polite on the sidewalk, because it’s fashionable to do so and there is more accountability. But, our cars have become little pods not unlike a computer behind a firewall, where your identity is shielded somewhat.

    I’ve no idea what the solution is. Hell, I don’t even know what the problem is… We’re all a bunch of Herring trying to swim upstream, I guess, and things get messy sometimes.

    And, speaking of messy, back to that driving in Boston thing… One problem is Boston’s road system were once just a bunch of cow paths, and there’s just not enough room and traffic management is impossible. Maybe that’s why I found driving in Bangkok to be strangely familiar. Anyhow, every boston driver has a very important device ready at ALL TIMES. This device usually solves any problem, and it’s not the horn (that’s so New York). I call it the Mono-digit Interpersonal Communication Device – aka: the middle finger. You can flip it unscrupulously and won’t get shot or followed home. It’s kinda of like saying “hey buddy, I’ve got places to be and you’re in my way…” Adding colorful language and wild gesticulation gets you more clout, and it can be fun, knowing that you may be heading to the same pub as your adversary, where you’ll buy each other a pint.

    Wow, what a rambling bit that all was. Not even sure I made my point. I just wish more people would act the way they’d like to be treated. That ‘do unto others…’ adage.

    • @GF – Why did we enjoy reading this so much? Dunno, maybe it’s because we’re always interested in what our readers have on their minds! Never been to Bangkok (bucket list) but glad to hear we weren’t far off in our estimate of Boston driving techniques. We’re Californians, and likely always will be, but yeah – we seem to forget ourselves and where we come from sometimes. Thanks for writing!

  6. The “problem” is we all have our pet peeves. The “solution” is to relax. The reality is – it’s easier said than done. I’m just thankful this isn’t one of my pet peeves. It could lead to road rage, and road rage can be deadly.

    Please stay safe everyone…

  7. Along with the fact that about 10% of the people driving in this area are driving schwacked out of their minds on pharmaceuticals or booze. With another 10% driving with their noses buried in their phones.

  8. We have been followed (go to a police station — its funny to see your pursuer zoom away once they realize where you are taking them), flipped off, verbally assaulted, almost really assaulted, had a grown man throw a golf ball at our minivan and seen all kinds of strange and bizarre things on my way to and from work and schools and local events. It is pretty crazy and I’m sure these people are perfectly nice once they get home — but behind the wheel they are real jerks.

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