440: Road Rage

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Road Rage
Okay, now just as the loss hits him, slam on the brakes.
Title text: Okay, now just as the loss hits him, slam on the brakes.


Black Hat is driving a car, and Danish is with him in the passenger's seat. Black Hat gets annoyed because the car behind him is "tailgating" (in this context, the term means that the other car is following too close to the back bumper of Black Hat's car).

Danish decides to fight back, so she turns on her laptop and finds that the car behind them also has a laptop running. Since the cars are so close, the other laptop is well within WiFi range, so she manages to establish a WiFi connection with the laptop in the other car. Then, Danish finds a security hole (in the comic, a "remote exploit"). She uses it to break into the laptop and install a speech synthesizer. This means that the laptop in the car behind just starts saying words at Danish's will.

The driver of the other car is puzzled when he starts hearing a voice. He's completely clueless about where the voice comes from. Also, he's driving alone, so he's probably frightened (or nervous at least) to find that someone is speaking inside his car. The fact that the voice says "she'd be alive if it weren't for you" surely won't help him relax. The "shot in the dark" is the gamble that this statement is especially meaningful and poignant to the driver. As the driver is prone to tailgating, it seems likely that he could have caused a car accident—possibly a fatal one—in the past.

In the title text, Danish is continuing her revenge, asking Black Hat to slam on the brakes. Hitting the brakes is a common (though highly unsafe) way to get revenge on tailgaters. At minimum, it forces them to abruptly decelerate and hopefully frighten them, but the danger is that they don't have room to stop in time and cause a collision. The joke is that, having already achieved a complicated and psychologically painful form of revenge, Danish wants to follow it up with a much more conventional form, at the worst possible time. Since the blame for such types of accident is always given to the driver of the car behind, and since we know Black Hat is a sadistic bastard, Black Hat will no doubt enjoy adding both the blame and the traffic accident on top of what Danish has already accomplished. This may seem ironic, as Black Hat and Danish would be risking having their own car struck, but they would no doubt rather make an example than avoid the accident.


[Black Hat is driving, and Danish, who seems to be his equal, is in the passenger's seat. They are closely followed by some other vehicle.]
Black Hat: That guy's tailgating me.
Danish: I'll take a look.
[A car is shown to be closely behind Black Hat's car.]
Danish: His laptop's running, probably in the back seat. And... yup, the WiFi autoconnects.
[Close-up of Danish using a laptop.]
Danish: Now we just scan for remote exploits... install speech synth... And take a shot in the psychological dark.
[Cueball's car.]
Laptop: Hello.
Cueball: What? Who's there?
Laptop: She'd be alive if it weren't for you.
Cueball: ...Oh God.


This may be a continuation of 433: Journal 5, with Black Hat taking Danish to the "date" that was mentioned.

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Incomplete (as of August 26, 2013)
  • At the title text Black Hat is avoiding a crash.
  • While many explains are monster explains, here is the WIFI missing, this explain is just more a transcript.--Dgbrt (talk) 21:44, 26 August 2013 (UTC)

The idea is that the tailgater (I'll name him Phil for ease of understanding) will be distracted while he contemplates his loss, so when Black Hat slams on the brakes, Phil hopefully won't have enough stopping distance to avoid a collision, slamming into Black Hat's car. The accident is always caused by the car behind, meaning Phil will be at fault.Lyusternik (talk) 15:26, 2 December 2013 (UTC)

Okay, I've been bold, completely rewrote the explanation AND removed the incomplete banner. It now looks less like a transcript and (I think) everything is covered. 17:28, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Whew, I've been more offensive than Black Hat in the past and I'm still happy today that I did survive this. I did not slam the brake, no stoplight, just releasing my foot from the gas pedal at high speed and my car slowed down without any warning to the one behind me. There was happily no accident and NEVER TRY SOMETHING LIKE THIS. But after this incident the guy did slam his own brake and he never did try to overtake me again. --Dgbrt (talk) 21:36, 2 June 2014 (UTC)

In light of the last paragraph of the explanation, I wish Randall's drawing made it clear whether BH and Danish were wearing seatbelts. 19:45, 30 October 2015 (UTC)

I think that Danish does not survive the accident that she provoked with her message to the tailgating guy. This is a very nice example of a self-fulfilling prophecy.-- 14:28, 25 January 2016 (UTC)

No one tried to guess at why the shot in the dark worked? I thought it might have something to do with the fact that tailgaters tend to be reckless drivers and he had caused someone to die before due to his reckless driving. flewk (talk) 17:56, 28 December 2015 (UTC)

Revisiting this comic after watching 13 Reasons Why really gives you a new view on the whole thing. I wonder if the book, or indeed any specific work, was involved in Randall's creative process for this comic, or if he just pulled the idea for the guilt trip out of thin air. 06:53, 7 January 2018 (UTC)

Why does the transcript include the phrase "who seems to be his equal" in reference to Danish? That seems like a weird thing to include. DownGoer (talk) 02:53, 30 August 2023 (UTC)