Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Road Rage - What Causes It?

I was trawling the web earlier today trying to figure out what the root cause of road rage is. I'm not a psychologist so my understanding of it is fairly basic, however, the root cause behind road rage is actually very straight-forward (once you've waded through the jargon).

According to a study by the American Automobile Association (AAA) it comes down to this: "Human beings are territorial... The car is an extension of this territory." 

There are a number of other elements involved but universally the biggest factor appears to be how negative actions can have more impact than positive ones.

That probably doesn't make a lot of sense on its own - so I'm going to use a scenario to try and explain how it works.

If someone drives badly - undertaking you and cutting you up on the road, for example, this tends to have more of an effect on your emotional state than someone who lets you go in front of them.

For instance - if someone is considerate of you on the road you are more likely to be considerate and friendly back. However, a bad driver who upsets you could lead to a really aggressive response from yourself.

These aggressive responses could be directly linked to a condition that Harvard Medical School refer to as "intermittent explosive disorder".

It's described as “recurrent episodes of angry and potentially violent outbursts.” The condition is linked directly to road rage and abuse. The disorder reportedly triggers an overreaction to situations with uncontrollable rage.

Whilst this description of road rage is pretty straight-forward (in a scientific kind of way) the honest truth is... maybe you just had a bad day. Let’s face facts – driving can be stressful – couple this with a bad day in the office or at college and sometimes it’s all too easy to flip-out when another driver does something to annoy you. 

Unfortunately road rage and aggressive driving can lead to accidents – potentially injuring others (or worse) and having to make a claim on your young drivers insurance.

I don’t pretend to have the answer to the problem but what I can do is offer a little guidance on avoiding or diffusing road rage.

To find out more check out my other article on how to avoid conflict whilst driving.