The streets of Hampstead are narrow and difficult to navigate. It takes a bit of give and take and can be infuriating especially when, as is normally the case, I am in a hurry.

Just recently, my friend was driving up Frognal with children in the car. The group found themselves nose to nose with a car coming down the hill. Unwilling to reverse all the way down the hill, they paused, waiting for a solution.

What was less normal, in my experience, was that a driver emerged from the car shouting and gesticulating. She came right up to my friend’s car in a fury – I assume she was late! She was followed by a driver from the car behind her, also in a rage, presumably also late, shouting and approaching the car where my friend was by now locked in with primary school-aged children watching and pinned to their seats. The second driver used highly abusive words, heard by the children, used to describe people with disabilities.

Ham & High: Laura Marks wants 'road ragers' to recognise the impact their behaviour can haveLaura Marks wants 'road ragers' to recognise the impact their behaviour can have (Image: Laura Marks)

The fact that the drivers were both women should not be relevant but, as a woman myself, I do tend to hold us up to higher standards, particularly around children.

This story becomes even more shocking when I reveal that my friend, a local resident, and also a woman, wears a hijab. She tells me that abuse of this sort is a common occurrence, and her husband says it happens much more when his hijab-wearing wife is present.

I am left with two quandaries – one around the sort of role-modelling this provides for our children. The second, how to explain to the ‘road-ragers’, female or male, and probably normally pillars of the community, the serious impact of their threatening and hateful behaviour on the young children and their mother.

With Ramadan around the corner, our Muslim neighbours are spending a month in reflection and community building.

It’s a time when I for one will try to find out more, build bridges and to encourage people, like the two shouty drivers, to consider how to connect rather than disconnect. Bellowing abuse at women and children in cars won’t help us arrive at our destination any earlier, especially if where we are heading should be towards a more caring, thoughtful society.

Laura Marks OBE is founder of Mitzvah Day, chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and an interfaith consultant – (