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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Every time I pick up a newspaper, or see on the evening news a story about "road rage," I can't help but fear that my husband could be the next victim. "Alex" is an otherwise intelligent, caring individual who becomes the terror of the highway whenever he gets behind the wheel. He is somehow convinced that he's the only person who understands the rules of the road, and it has become his mission in life to educate other drivers.

His aggressive behavior includes slamming on his brakes -- even on the interstate -- when he thinks the car behind is tailgating. When he feels cars in the fast lane are going too slow, he cuts in on them and gives them the finger. Anyone who doesn't "step on it" at an intersection is in for a long blast on the horn to "wake them up." I'm afraid when our 15-year-old son gets his license, he'll think he can drive the same way.

I've tried to point out to him that this type of behavior could get us killed, but when he's behind the wheel, he's like a maniac. When Alex gets home and calms down he always apologizes for getting carried away, but it's the same story all over again the next time we're in the car.

Abby, I can't avoid riding with him because we have only one car. What can I do to convince Alex how stupid and dangerous this really is? -- A ROAD WARRIOR'S WIFE IN RHODE ISLAND

DEAR WIFE: The next time "Alex" begins apologizing, let him know in no uncertain terms that you are taking over as the designated driver for the family until he takes a defensive driving course and seeks counseling to rechannel his anger.

Since your son is nearing the age when he too will get behind the wheel, the three of you could sign up for defensive driving classes as a family. In addition to driving schools, which are listed in the telephone directory, defensive driving classes are often available at community colleges and through your local automobile club. Please write again and let me know what impact this has on Alex's driver attitude. I care.

DEAR ABBY: I just celebrated 10 years of sobriety. I hope the enclosed item will motivate anyone who has a drinking problem to RUN, not walk, to AA before it's too late. I can testify that life is better without the bottle. It doesn't matter if people come from Yale or jail -- we in AA want them to join us. Their life will get better. I promise. -- "MUMPS" MOM

DEAR "MUMPS" MOM: Congratulations on your 10 years of sobriety. May you be able to celebrate every single year.

I hope the item you sent will inspire those with an addiction to alcohol to join you in recovery through AA. Read on:

"I drank for happiness and became unhappy.

"I drank for joy and became miserable.

"I drank for sociability and became argumentative.

"I drank for sophistication and became obnoxious.

"I drank for friendship and made enemies.

"I drank for sleep and woke up tired.

"I drank for strength and felt weak.

"I drank for relaxation and got the shakes.

"I drank for courage and became afraid.

"I drank for confidence and became doubtful.

"I drank to make conversation and it slurred my speech.

"I drank to feel heavenly and ended up feeling like hell." -- ANONYMOUS

For an excellent guide to becoming a better conversationalist and a more attractive person, order "How to Be Popular." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby Popularity Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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