Physics of Road Rage

A few days ago while riding my bike I was involved in a spirited exchange of opinions with a gentleman in a motor vehicle. After said exchange he attempted to run me off the road, and got out of his car, presumably with intent to assault me. Despite the surge of adrenaline I declined to engage in fisticuffs, dodged around him, and rode off into the sunset. I may have been laughing and communicating further with sign language. It’s hard to recall.

I thought I’d apply some year 11 physics to see what all the fuss was about. I was in the middle of the road, preparing to turn right at a T-junction (this is Australia remember). While his motivations were unclear, his vehicle didn’t look like an ambulance. I am assuming he as not an organ-courier, and that there probably wasn’t a live heart beating in an icebox on the front seat as he raced to the transplant recipient. Rather, I am guessing he objected to me being in that position, as that impeded his ability to travel at full speed.

The street in question is 140m long. Our paths crossed half way along at the 70m point, with him traveling at the legal limit of 14 m/s, and me a sedate 5 m/s.

Lets say he intended to brake sharply 10m before the T junction, so he could maintain 14 m/s for at most 60m. His optimal journey duration was therefore 4 seconds. My monopolization of the taxpayer funded side-street meant he was forced to endure a 12 second journey. The 8 second difference must have seemed like eternity, no wonder he was angry, prepared to risk physical injury and an assault charge!

3 thoughts on “Physics of Road Rage”

  1. Hi David,

    Glad you are OK !!!

    There are a LOT of angry people around here also. East coast USA.

    Recently I received several calls from a firm wanting to learn my radio listening habits.

    I didn’t bother to tell them that I either listen to CW on 14mhz or 7mhz. Not many ads or devisive stuff on that channel :).

    I am in awe of your high speed images and your modem work. Truly an amazing piece of engineering.

    I really think you should post a getting started tutorial for young people to get them started doing what you have learned to do so well :) !!! I bet it would earn a place in some engineering college somewhere.

    My hat is off to you and the whole team.


  2. David,

    Yes there are some Muppet’s out there on the Australian roads, they never cease to disappoint me with their shenanigans.

    Actually you may find that the gentlemen in question may have objected to the 22c that you cost him by the delay (8/3600 * A$100/hr). That is assuming you pay the tax, long service leave and super contributions for said individual in the hourly rate above.

    If you do ever get into that situation again just flip the person a 50c coin and tell them that for their trouble or at the very least they can find the nearest payphone to call someone who cares (*grin*).



  3. Nicely written David, and yes, glad you weren’t hurt.

    So glad you resisted, this man’s no doubt enticing invitation to partake in some impromtu arm to arm combat. His is the mentality that sparks wars.

    While you got to ride off into the sunset as the bigger man– smarter, braver, and more heroic.

    Hooray for the gentlemen of the world! Long may they live :)

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