Road Rage Realities
Road rage is a relatively new term fairly well known to most of us. However, a consistent all encompassing definition of what it is has yet to be established. Basically, it’s known as a variety of aggressive behaviors by a driver ranging from yelling at another driver, to using a weapon, including the vehicle, to inflict damage to another driver or their vehicle. A number of psychological factors may also play a role as well. It’s estimated about one third of drivers have been guilty of it at one time or another.
Some research on the subject shows most offenders are young males on average about 33 years old and caused by a number of factors. Other studies indicate the behavior may extend through all age groups and genders, with the exception of seniors. Some of these behaviors are:
- Displaced aggression
- Alcohol and substance misuse
- Borderline and antisocial personality disorders
- Environmental factors such as heavy traffic and miles driven
Most incidents of road rage seem to amount to nothing more than shouting and gesturing, but according to Department of Transportation statistics, nearly 2,000 individuals suffer injuries or death from raging motorists annually.
The American Automobile Association lists four specific character traits of road rage:
Impatience: Drivers can perceive themselves to be behind schedule and the never ending number of stop signs can be a huge source of aggravation. Or the quest to find a good parking space can also spark an episode. There are also more vehicles on the road leading to more frustration and stress.
Revenge: The need to exact punishment for a perceived injustice, whether real or not.
Anger: Drivers get angry at other drivers, for driving too fast, too slow or cutting them off. Even passengers can set off an irritated navigator by being a “back seat driver.”
Competition: Drivers consider the road their own private speed way and entitled to dominate it.
Some researchers believe driving behavior can be learned from parents and other adults. TV shows and movies also glamorize dangerous, aggressive driving. However, it isn't always bad driving and aggressive behavior at fault. It can be simple pent up anger over a bad work day, depression from a stressed relationship or simply a misunderstanding between motorists. Most aggressive driving is confined to tailgating, obscene gestures, verbal abuse and other such behavior, but can result in injury or death.
An error in judgment may be interpreted as aggressive and cause tempers to flare. Situations such as this can easily escalate into more serious confrontations. The best way to avoid these situations is to ignore the offending party if possible. However, that may sometimes prove difficult. An example would be a reckless driver who passes a car, pulls out in front and slams on their brakes.
Road rage can be exhibited in various Ways. Speeding, aggressive acceleration, cutting others off, weaving in and out of traffic, blowing the horn, flashing headlights, making rude gestures, verbal abuse, striking another person or throwing objects are all common examples. Even usually well behaved drivers, pushed to a point, can become irritated and commit acts of aggression resulting in a lot of damage.
Some think road rage may be caused by a mental illness called intermittent explosive disorder, (IED) uncontrolled explosive outbursts of behaviors such as throwing objects, breaking things and causing physical harm to others. Although it’s not common there’s not enough data available yet to confirm a clear decision.
Following a few simple rules can prevent most incidents. Unfortunately, many drivers forget to apply them. Be courteous, always use turn signals, avoid tailgating, use high beams only when necessary, don’t exceed parking lot speed limits and don’t drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.