New York has been identified as the city with most aggressive drivers closely followed by Dallas. With there being an increase in the number of road accidents, National Highway Traffic Administration has put aggressive driving as the leading cause of motor vehicle accidents and deaths. There is a difference between road rage and aggressive driving with some referring to the former as a chronic form of aggressive driving. David & Youngson (2004, 1841) defines it as “a condition in which an automobile driver loses his or her temper in reaction to traffic conditions in general or to another motorist’s driving or behavior in particular.” National Highway Traffic Administration refers to it as an assault where one motorist harms or attempts to attack another motorists or passengers of another vehicle with either with his or her vehicle or with other weapons.
The causes of road rage are not specific but are varied with experts speculating that it is caused by a number of stimuli. The congestion characterizing most of our cities however is the key culprit. High traffic volume has made the traffic slow leading to bad driving habits and heightening the anger in motorists. Some drivers have become inconsiderate believing only they have a right of way and becoming highly irritable when such behaviors are replicated by other motorists. Hesitant driving may also trigger angry reaction from other motorists. This can be seen where a driver is sluggish in responding to the traffic lights. Insensitive driving on the other hand is seen where for example a driver is changing lanes without adequately forewarning other motorists. Other leading cause of road rage according to David &Youngson (2004, 1841) “is the feeling of being endangered.” A motorist who perceives other road users to be a threat to his or her wellbeing is bound to react angrily.
As aforementioned, most experts feel that the increase in traffic congestion is a lead cause to the rise in incidences of road rage. Motor vehicles have become the most common tool of transport consequently increasing the number of vehicles on the road and bringing with it all manner of drivers. Social and economic frustrations are also translating into road rage as people try to cope with the hardships in life. Most important though is the increase in intoxicated drivers who have little respect for traffic rules. Technology also is a factor with mobile phones use while driving being a lead cause of distraction and heightening road rage (David, 2002).
As motorists, we all have a duty to ensure our safety and the safety of all road-users. If I become a target of road rage, as experts have advised, it is prudent to avoid any eye contact with the attacker and ensure the windows are completely rolled up. This decreases the chances of any sort of confrontation. It is also advisable to mingle with other motorists or to stop at a police station; this discourages the attacking motorist from escalating the aggressiveness further. Incase there is a threat of a physical violence it is crucial to stay inside the car with all doors and windows locked and call for help if the situation aggravates further.
To decrease road rage, it is important that one adheres to laid down traffic rules and respect other motorists’ right of driving. It is also important that one avoids any form of intoxication or distraction which might aggravate ones anger towards other motorists.
David B. J., Youngson R. M. (2004). Encyclopedia of Family Health. Marshall Cavendish.
David, Levinson (2002) Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment: Volumes I-IV. SAGE.