Arrive Alive

Road Rage

Road Rage Defining Road Rage

Road rage is referred to as “incidents of angry and aggressive driving”. It is defined as an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger/s of one motor vehicle on the operator or passenger/s of another motor vehicle or is caused by an incident that occurred on a roadway and is considered a criminal offence.

Some researchers and experts state that the term road rage has become common vernacular to describe any displays of anger while driving, although such displays are also referred to as “angry or aggressive driving”.

Angry or aggressive driving may range from mild displays of anger, such as following too closely on another driver's bumper, to more serious forms of violence, such as physical assault and vehicular homicide.

At this point, it seems as if any expression of anger e.g. waving of arms, staring and the like are being seen as road rage.

I differ from this.

A closer analysis of the term “road rage” renders the following:

  • Rage means to be in an extreme energized state of anger which has accumulated and/or has been suppressed for some time, is triggered and now finds expression in rage like behaviour.
  • Rage leads to elevated self-esteem, adrenalin rushes, reduction of rational thought and increase in physical ability.
  • A rage episode will only subside once the emotion has been spent.
  • Typical uncontrolled rage like behaviour would be e.g.:
    • Prolonged and excessive screaming and swearing
    • Intense verbal attack and abuse
    • Serious threatening
    • Physical assault
  • If this behaviour is exhibited on the road we can say that it is road rage

Road rage per se is not seen as and or has not been classified as a separate psychiatric illness. In fact, most psychiatrists call it IED - Intermittent Explosive Disorder which is characterized by extreme expressions of anger up to the point of uncontrollable rage which is disproportionate to the situation. 5 to 7 % of the population suffers from this disorder and because it is associated with lower serotonin turnover rates in the brain, a combination of psychotherapy and medication is indicated for treatment.

Genuine road rage personalities also experience rage in other situations in their lives and this is congruent with the IED diagnosis.

I, therefore, believe that when ordinary road users who do not suffer from IED express anger on the road, it should be seen as normal behaviour i.e. angry or aggressive driving, and not road rage per se. Real road rage which leads to the rage like behaviours as described above is at the extreme end of angry and aggressive driving:

 

Road anger/rage behaviour continuum - RARC

 

Although I argue that e.g. anger expressions such as hand waving and staring on the road is normal human behaviour, I have to caution that self-control should be exercised as any anger provoked situation can quickly get out of hand and normal docile people can experience an acute episode of IED. One does not know the emotional state of the other person in the other car. Exercise self-control and restraint and do not get involved in an angry and aggressive driving incident.

Visit www.thebehaviourshop.com for tips on how to avoid road rage.

[Content provided by Dr Jacques van Zyl (Psychologist)]

Also View

Avoiding aggressive driving

10 Point plan to avoid Road Rage

Road Rage in South Africa

South African research on Road Rage

Road Rage - A South African Perspective

Road Rage Article

Road Rage Study

Faster Vehicles Become Victims of Road Rage

Motorbike/ Motorcycle Safety through the Eyes of the Instructor

Motorcycle Safety and Driving in Bad Weather

Sharing the road with bikers - How do we avoid the rage?

Loading...

Search Road Safety Articles

Latest Pages

Speeding, Safe Driving and Road Crashes

Speeding, Safe Driving and Road Crashes

Introduction Speeding can be defined as exceeding the posted speed limit and driving too fast for conditions. Unfortunately, many people do not view obeying speed limits as an important way to avoid crashes. Speeding is regarded as a factor in nearly one-third of all fatal crashes. The

Read More

Crime as a Threat to Road Safety in South Africa

Crime as a Threat to Road Safety in South Africa

South Africans live in a country blessed with beauty and diversity. We share a country with a colourful history having overcome rather significant and unique challenges. However proudly South African, we may be, we have to admit that we face serious challenges to safety daily in our homes, places

Read More

Road Safety near Construction Zones / Roadworks

Road Safety near Construction Zones / Roadworks

Introduction and Overview Increased infrastructure spending and funding for road construction have led to a significant increase in the number of highway construction projects around South Africa. The safety of road users and workers is a concern on roads and highways worldwide. Thousands of people

Read More

Roadworks and Road Safety

Roadworks and Road Safety

Introduction In the City of Johannesburg, it was found that the level of obedience to speed limits in road works was much lower than elsewhere and that the attitude of some motorists was alarming. Drivers are at risk in roadworks where the lanes may be narrower, the layouts change and there is

Read More

Back Pain and Safety on the Road

Back Pain and Safety on the Road

Road safety and health: Learn about your health Tips for keeping Your back healthy The correct ways to move can help to protect your back. If your back has been seriously hurt, the risk of further injury is high, and if it is serious enough, you may struggle with lifelong pain and discomfort. Prevention The

Read More

Sharing the Roads Safely with Firefighters

Sharing the Roads Safely with Firefighters

We have previously shared information on the importance of safe driving when hearing the emergency sirens. The focus was on driving when we hear sirens from the ambulances of our paramedics responding to the scenes of road crashes. We would however also like to share some insights on firefighting

Read More

Load More Pages

Partners

View All