Traffic congestion, distracted drivers, running late for something, being angry about something else, and being in no mood for courtesy, all boils down to a potent recipe for rage and aggressive behavior. Road rage is a growing problem. Aggressive driving accounts for more than half of all traffic fatalities. So what causes it and what should you do if you’re the victim of road rage?
Behind the wheel, you’re stripped of the ability to communicate in all but the most primitive ways (honking, inappropriate gestures, flashing high beams). According to psychologist Jamie Madigan, part of the problem has to do with a loss of self-awareness and individual accountability. Take for example online games, message boards, and chat rooms, they leave people more open to being influenced by real or perceived conditions. While anonymity doesn’t automatically make drivers prone to antisocial behavior, it can lead to more aggressive and less inhibited actions. Also, what used to be a largely male problem has now crossed gender lines. Women may not get into roadside fistfights or point guns at others, but they can drive just as dangerously. The AAA Foundation for Traffic analyzed over 10,000 police reports and newspaper articles and found that between 1990 and 1996, road rage contributed to 218 deaths and 12,610 injuries. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that aggressive driving causes about a third of all crashes and about two-thirds of automobile fatalities. Aggressive Drivers need to focus their attention on safe driving, rethink anger-provoking situations in less negative ways, and use calming or deflecting behaviors such as turning on the radio. Jerry Deffenbacher, PhD, has outlined the 5 major characteristics of an aggressive driver, which may help you or someone you know realize they have a problem.
AGGRESSIVE DRIVER CHARACTERISTICS
KEY REMINDERS TO CONTROL YOUR ANGER
In certain circumstances, you may feel like you lose self-esteem or status by giving in and allowing a demanding driver to get his/her way. If the driver continues in the attempt to pass or cut you off, a situation may occur. Anger results when this type of behavior persists, escalates or if he succeeds. Aggressive drivers are highly unpredictable and can be blinded by rage so it’s up to the victim to control the situation. If you are being tailgated, change lanes.
You will be much happier if you learn to enjoy the relaxation of the journey instead of letting yourself grow angry over petty road behavior. Be relaxed, listen to some soothing music, or have a nice conversation with your passengers. When you think of driving, whether it is to work every day or on vacation, don’t think of it as wasted time until you reach your destination. Instead, relax and think of driving as worthwhile and pleasurable.
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