By Katherine Liverman
Christina Graham has been a member of the greater Falls Church community for 15 years, a witness to the rise of new shops, metro stops and what fellow residents all know best: traffic. After hearing tale after unsettling tale of road rage in our city, she has decided to take on the venturesome task of bringing compassion to our roads through a campaign for road civility.
The National Highway and Traffic Safety Association distinguishes between aggressive driving and road rage. Where both definitions involve operating a vehicle in a way that is likely to endanger others, road rage is categorized as a criminal offense because it implies a willful disregard for the safety of others.
AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety identifies some of the most common forms of road rage, such as intentionally tailgating or cutting off another driver, yelling at another driver, honking to show anger or annoyance, displaying angry gestures and trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes.
Graham’s campaign for road civility is rooted in awareness, compassion, and the humanization of drivers. The campaign is a positive movement; it does not look to actively persecute or combat those who are practicing or triggering road rage, but rather to foster civility on the road.
A one-woman show, Graham has created a series of stickers to post on cars, commercial vehicles, and buses that serve as simple reminders to keep your cool on the road. The stickers show the mangily green hands of a road rage monster behind the wheel, sporting phrases such as “Loved Ones on Board,” “Urge the Merge,” and “Is this you?” to display to the drivers around you. She provides stress balls and wristbands to keep inside your vehicle and has a series of smaller stickers on the way.
Graham remarks: “Its important that it’s meant to be a positive… everyone is a human being out there and they have really important lives too.” The movement works to look beyond cars on the road or the jerk who cut you off and see the person behind the wheel; to take a moment to step back, slow down, and in her words: “remind yourself of what is important.”
In terms of expanding the campaign, she is contacting public transportation services. She has successfully partnered with the Maryland Department of Transportation and its Zero Deaths Campaign to increase awareness about the dangers of road rage.
Locally, she has reached out to the Fairfax County Director of Transportation as well as the Fairfax County Public School System. Down the line, Graham seeks to shift the campaign towards corporate social responsibility by partnering with various transport companies to display her stickers on company vehicles that so often ride through our community.
When asked if awareness will be enough to solve this problem, Graham replied: “Is this going to hurt? No. It can only help…if it makes a difference with one person, at least you have accomplished something.”
More information on how to avoid aggressive drivers, how to avoid being an aggressive driver or to order some gear, is available at Graham’s website at roadragereminder.com.