RAC Cars News


Understanding Road Rage

By raccars Published

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More serious road rage incidents are regularly reported in the media, but it's a phenomenon that occurs on a daily basis on British roads, ranging from rude gestures or a quick but angry blast on the horn to verbal and physical confrontations, some leading to injuries or worse.

Black box insurance company, Ingenie, recently conducted a survey on road rage, with the results showing 70% of drivers claim to have been victims of road rage over the last year. Almost two thirds of survey respondents denied committing road rage themselves, 85% confessed to displaying anger behind the wheel occasionally.

At Cranfield University in Bedford, Dr Lisa Dorn studies driver behaviour, including running research programmes assessing driver risk and co-editing the series of books called 'Human Factors in Road and Rail Safety.' At the start of her career, road deaths in the UK ran to 6,000-7,000 annually. That figure has dropped to 1,700 but Dr Dorn believes further improvements are possible thanks to the advent of advanced car safety systems and modern technology. However, she also believes driver education is at the heart of the issue.

She believes drivers exhibit behaviour led by their emotions rather than working to their knowledge and skill level. 'Drama queen' characters will take inappropriate risks to experience an emotional charge that is not supplied by the process of driving normally. Angry characters exhibit aggressive behaviour behind the wheel as in any other area of life.

Therefore, road rage is unlikely to be an isolated experience and it is a person's entire character that needs to be changed to deal with their propensity for such behaviour. Drivers need to learn self reflection when it comes to their driving style. They need to be aware of all the conditions that could prompt an incident - sleep deprivation, the stress of financial difficulties or relationship problems or any other lifestyle concerns can affect the way a person responds to other road users.

Drivers must assess their own condition as they would their vehicle's, considering their roadworthiness at any given time. They need to acknowledge issues that could affect their attitude to driving to avert possible explosions of bad temper.

On the other side of the road rage issue, drivers who are feeling victimised on the road should look to avoid a confrontation by allowing an impatient driver to pass, holding up a hand to acknowledge a possible error and focusing on their own driving, rather than the behaviour of others.

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