Road rage is a common phenomenon that many drivers experience on the roads. It is an aggressive and violent behavior that occurs when drivers become frustrated by the actions of other drivers. Why do people have road rage, and what can be done to prevent it?
One of the main reasons for road rage is stress. Many drivers have a lot of stress in their lives and tend to take out their frustrations on the road. Driving can be a particularly stressful experience, with traffic congestion, long commutes, and delays. When someone is already stressed, minor irritations can quickly escalate into road rage, leading to confrontations and dangerous driving behavior.
Another reason for road rage is a sense of entitlement. Some drivers believe that they have the right to drive as they please, without regard for the safety of others on the road. They may tailgate, cut off other drivers, or engage in other aggressive behaviors that can be dangerous and provoke a response from other drivers.
Impatience is also a common cause of road rage. Many people are in a hurry and feel that other drivers are in their way. This impatience can lead to reckless driving behavior and aggressive actions towards other drivers, including honking, yelling, and obscene gestures.
Finally, some drivers may have underlying psychological issues that can contribute to road rage. In some cases, these issues may be related to anger management problems, personality disorders, or other mental health conditions.
It is essential to identify the underlying causes of road rage and take steps to prevent it from occurring. For example, drivers can practice stress-reducing techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, before getting behind the wheel. They can also practice patience and empathy towards other drivers and remember that everyone on the road is trying to get from point A to B safely.
In conclusion, road rage is a serious problem that can lead to dangerous driving behavior and serious accidents. By understanding the causes of road rage and taking steps to prevent it, drivers can help make the roads safer for everyone. So, next time you are behind the wheel, take a deep breath and remember to drive safely and considerately.
It’s estimated that 80 percent of drivers get road rage. Couple that with the fact that we spend 300 hours driving each year and it’s no surprise this no-man’s-land of brake tapping, blinker-avoiding, and cut-offs has created a lump of stress in our everyday lives.
To better understand how to deal with road rage and overcome the frustrations of driving, we asked Dr. Robert Nemerovski, a psychologist and leading authority on anger and road rage to share some tips.
What Is Road Rage?
Road rage is an escalation between two or more drivers. Nemerovski says drivers enter a dysfunctional communication without any means to talk about it, so they act out their frustrations with moving vehicles. The escalation occurs because we are primed to be on the lookout for bad drivers. In essence, we’re looking for people to be mad at, or someone to delay or offend us.
We’re All ‘Bad’ Drivers
“Remember, we’re all in it together,” Nemerovski says.
According to Nemerovski, our perception of what road rage looks like has been largely shaped by the media to encompass bat-wielding hillbillies and trigger-happy macho men. Obviously, that isn’t us, right? To a lesser extreme, we still look at road rage expressions like tailgating, flashing lights, flipping off, shouting obscenities, or brake-tapping as an exchange between a perpetrator and victim. When we experience these, we become the victim.
The truth is, we all contribute to each others’ experience on the road. In Nemerovsk’s doctoral research, he asked subjects to identify the signs or behaviors of road rage and then say which they had done. “It was mind-blowing because the subjects always felt they were right, law-abiding, good drivers, but admitted to doing these things,” he tells The Manual.
All it takes is one person to cut in traffic and we feel they are the perpetrator and we are the victim. That makes us angry. “People drive around with a lot of anger. The media has drawn a line between normal driving anger vs road ragers, but the reality is that everyone’s annoyance, frustration, and anger impacts other drivers,” says Nemerovski.
How to Deal with Road Rage
Set the Mood
Be mindful of the emotions you’re bringing into your car. Tough day at work? Fight with your S.O? Too much whiskey the night before? You are responsible for setting the mood in your car so that you can participate on the road with the least frustration. Save your ’80s death metal for the gym. Play music that puts you in a good headspace, try a quick meditation, set the temperature, take a drink of water, then hit the pedal to the metal.
Stop Making Personality Assessments
You’re driving and someone on the road does something wrong. Notice if your mind goes directly to analyzing their personality or jumping to conclusions about where they live, their job, or political affiliation. “It’s a phenomenon called dehumanization,” Nemerovski says. “You can allow yourself to be more aggressive toward someone when seeing them less as a human.” (Ever heard of the Stanford prison experiment?)
You actually know nothing about that person and have no right to feel superior or to act in a dangerous way that values their life and welfare as less than your own. If someone cuts you off, tap into your humor reserve and think, “They’re probably late to class or about to pee their pants.” We’ve all been there.
Experiment With Kindness
Purposefully allow others to merge and pass. Yeah, be intentionally nice. It could cause a chain reaction of kindness that circles back to you when you need it most, or at the very least you’ll see how easy it is and that being nice doesn’t delay your trip too much.
Take the High Road
Change lanes, let the pedal-pusher pass, and forfeit the juvenile battle of acting out on the road. If you’re measuring your worth as a man by beating a grandma to the next red light, you might want to consider talking with an expert like Nemerovski. There’s no shame in wanting to understand your anger.
When you take the high road, don’t view this as a loss but as a sign of intelligence to disengage, back off, move lanes, or pull over if someone is very aggressive.
Assume People Are Crazy
We’re primed to look for bad drivers but we don’t always assume they’re crazy. Nemerovski suggests assuming other drivers can potentially be easily triggered or unhinged, or are looking to take their internal or unrelated aggression out on you. It may be a little morbid, but this preconception should make it easier to say, “You know what? Not worth my time or safety.” Before “teaching them a lesson” by tapping your breaks (which is very dangerous, Nemerovski says), remember you’re responsible for either contributing to or calming down an escalation.
Play Grand Theft Auto
OK, Nemerovski didn’t suggest this, but our personal recommendation for dealing with road rage or discharging any leftover hard feelings after your commute home is booting up the PlayStation and getting your Grand Theft Auto on. The road isn’t a game, but this is.
Happy to be of service when the media wants to try to bring road rage into focus, especially when its an opportunity for me to share some tips and different perspectives that hopefully will help some folks to keep things safer on the roads.
I’ve been seeing an increase in the number of stories about road rage incidents in past months. Additionally, I’ve been getting more calls than I have in some time to be interviewed by various media. Here’s a recent story that is getting a lot of attention, most likely because the victim of the violence was a military veteran and popular member of his community:
We don’t know the details, and the police are still looking for the perpetrator, however, it’s another example of why–no matter how you feel about another person’s driving behavior–it’s safer to get somewhere with other people nearby rather than pull over and take the risk that the other person will be violent and armed. A tragic loss and another harsh reminder to manage your own anger as safety the best you can out there on the roads.
John Bacon, USA TODAY
The shocking death of former NFL football star Will Smith in apparent road rage in New Orleans marked the nation’s third highly publicized road rage incident in less than a week.
Smith, 34, a beloved player who won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints, was fatally shot Saturday following an argument after his car was rear-ended, police said in a statement. In Minneapolis on Tuesday, a gunman shot a motorist multiple times in a road rage incident. And in Houston on Wednesday, a brawl involving several adults broke out over a parking space at the Houston Zoo.
While the circumstances and motive surrounding Smith’s death are not yet firmly established, the problem of road rage is clear cut and on the rise.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, based on police reports, show road rage or aggressive driving were reported as factors in 375 fatal crashes that resulted in 418 deaths in 2014, the latest year statistics are available. In 2009, road rage or aggressive driving was reported as a contributing factor in 196 fatal crashes, causing 235 fatalities. The numbers do not include violence after a crash.
Of course, the vast majority of road rage and aggressive driving incidents do not result in death.
Jeff Asher, a crime data consultant based in New Orleans, said Sunday there are no firm statistics on road rage. But he said curbing the problem has more to do with psychology than driving skills.
“It’s about conflict resolution,” Asher told USA TODAY. “It starts in childhood, with education. Teaching people to resolve their conflicts peacefully.”
In New Orleans, Smith and his wife were traveling in their Mercedes when they were struck by a Hummer H2 driven by Cardell Hayes, 28, police said. The two men “exchanged words,” the police statement said, then Hayes fatally shot Smith and wounded Smith’s wife.
Helen Cameron, a senior fellow at the University of South Australia’s School of Psychology, said men between the ages of 16 to 40 are the most likely drivers to succumb to anger while driving — the same group most likely to commit any other violent act.
“It’s part of socialization and it’s something we as a society have never learned to deal with,” she recently told Australia’s news.com. “Cars are funny because they give people a protective bubble but it’s not the cars that make people angry.”
A recent survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found 87% of respondents said they believed aggressive drivers were a “somewhat” or “very serious” threat to their personal safety.
AAA’s advice when confronted with road rage or aggressive driving: “Don’t engage.” AAA spokeswoman Tamra Johnson said relatively trivial incidents sometimes balloon into more serious altercations.
“People need to keep their emotions in check,” Johnson told USA TODAY. “Don’t offend, don’t engage that driver in anger.”
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — A 35-year-old Council Bluffs man has been sentenced to five years in prison for beating, choking and kicking a teenager after their vehicles collided.
Ryan Linehan was sentenced Monday. He had pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of willful injury.
According to prosecutors, Linehan was driving in Council Bluffs just before midnight on April 25 when he struck a pickup after cutting it off. Police say the driver of the pickup, 15-year-old Joe Sturm of Crescent, Iowa, pulled over and got out of his car.
According to authorities, Linehan also stopped and attacked the teenager by choking him until he was unconscious, then put him down on the street and punched and kicked him. A friend of Sturm’s had been driving two vehicles behind him and recorded the incident on his cellphone.
This is a great piece on how #RoadRage can spread like a wildfire from one driver to another–or even a passenger. Great suggestions for how to manage one’s behavior when “infected with irrationality” and the intense motivation for revenge.