(Established in 1988)
A Neuro-Behavioral Medicine Clinic
Dr. Gautham's Neuro
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aggressive drivers have adopted a driving style, which is out of step with
normal traffic flow and accepted norms of courteous driving behavior. They
argue that their driving style is not aggressive at all, in fact it is the
safest possible driving or they admit that it is aggressive and justify it
based on various personal motives.
of us have indulged in some form of aggressive driving at some or the
other, subject to our moods. This includes
Cutting off, cutting in and
Changing lanes in a reckless
manner or, weaving through traffic.
Turning without signaling
Cruising in the passing lane
and not moving over
Taking too long to turn or to
Yelling, insulting or
gesturing at other drivers.
Rushing or being impatient
all the time.
Tailgating and following too
Running a red light or
speeding up to a yellow light.
trigger for the aggressive driver is usually traffic congestion coupled
with a schedule that is almost impossible to meet. As a result, the
aggressive driver generally commits multiple violations in an attempt to
make up time. For example, an aggressive driver who resorts to using a
roadway shoulder to pass may startle other drivers and cause them to take
an evasive action that results in more risk or even a crash. Meanwhile,
the offending aggressive driver continues on his or her way, perhaps
oblivious of what he or she has caused. Rush hour crashes, which are
frequently caused by aggressive drivers, are a major contributor to
congestion and 10 percent of these rush hour crashes contribute to a
Road rage, on
the other hand, is a criminal offense. This occurs when a traffic incident
escalates into a far more serious situation. Drivers with road rage:
generally know that the behavior that they are engaging in does not fit
the description of"good driving� yet do nothing about it.
Rage is loss of emotional control while driving. Frustration and anger are
key components in the creation of road rage. Being in control of the
vehicle and one�s self while driving seems a self-evident goal to
most drivers, however external factors can affect a driver�s control
over their emotional state and result in loss of emotional control to a
greater or lesser degree.
In 1968, a study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, which examined fatal accidents, showed that in 20% of the cases studied; the drivers had been involved in aggressive altercations within a six-hour period before their deaths. The danger is that an inability to effectively deal with anger may mean that aggression influences a motorist's own driving ability. A driver's aggression may be more dangerous to the person experiencing it than to fellow motorists.
is an emotional state that varies in intensity from mild irritation to
intense fury and rage. Like other emotions, it is accompanied by
physiological and biological changes; when you get angry, your heart rate
and blood pressure go up, as do the levels of your energy hormones,
adrenaline, and noradrenaline. People who are easily angered
generally have a low tolerance for frustration, meaning simply that they
feel that they should not have to be subjected to frustration,
inconvenience, or annoyance. They can't take things in stride, and they're
particularly infuriated if the situation seems somehow unjust: for
example, being corrected for a minor mistake. There are 2 types of anger:
Attributed anger and Instrumental anger.
anger occurs as a result of the driver being frustrated in an attempt to
achieve a goal . Attributed anger occurs as a result of hostile
interpretations of ambiguous events. (The driver is cut off by another
vehicle and sees this as a personal attack). Consider, for instance, a
slow moving car in the your lane. Why is the driver going so slowly? You
can attribute the cause to the traffic situation. You might think that the
car is old or malfunctioning, or perhaps there is a child in the car, or
someone is sick. But a driver with road rage attributes it to the driver's
disposition. He might think that the person is inconsiderate, incompetent,
stupid, dumb. Or he may attribute it to the driver's appearance, such as
race, gender, age, or ethnic background.
is a self-serving bias in the way drivers make attributions on the road.
For example, when other drivers cut them off in a lane change maneuver,
they feel outraged when making a dispositional attribution: "How
annoying. They're being inconsiderate, rude and aggressive. What a
jerk" But when it is our turn to cut someone off, we make a
situational attribution: "I had to do that because I have to take the
cutoff ramp soon," or, "because I am in hurry today."
Other factors that give rise to road rage are mood. Stress and expectations. Being in a bad mood has a negative effect on driving behavior, especially for the "unsafe" driver, who is more likely to react to the actions of other road users with road rage. A driver may be driven (pardon the pun) to road rage by behaviour of other drivers that goes against his expectations.
stressed out driver may react with road rage, to frustration in traffic or
what he perceives as hostile attitudes of other drivers. A study
which looked at environmental factors that influence aggression
showed that the following can cause rage in those with low frustration
people tend to feel that they are morally right, that any blocking or
changing of their plans is an unbearable indignity and that they should
NOT have to suffer this way. Maybe other people do, but not them! Anger
also affects risk tolerance.
tolerance is the amount of risk that one would normally accept when
driving. Someone with a low risk tolerance takes few chances and drives in
a cautious manner. People with a very low risk tolerance may drive in an
overly cautious way and hold up traffic by not taking acceptable gaps when
turning or driving slow enough to delay or hold up others. High
risk-tolerant people may be overconfident in their skills and abilities
and take chances by speeding or they may be seeking the thrill of "being
on the edge" and pushing the limits. Assertive drivers have a risk
tolerance, which is appropriate to the situation and consistent with
accepted standards. As a driver's emotional state changes, their risk
perception and tolerance also changes. Drivers with road rage tend to have
an inappropriately high level of risk tolerance and therefore pose a risk
to themselves as well as others on the road.