With vehicles of all shapes and sizes trying to squeeze thru an ever diminishing part of real estate that’s called ROAD brings out, at times the latent animal behavior in most of us – don’t you agree? Okay, let’s say every motorist has experienced it as an ‘Aggressor’ or the ‘Receiver’ in varying degrees! In short Road Rage has morphed into a virtually uncontrollable plague, spread across nations, SL included!
COMMON DRIVING BEHAVIOUR THAT INCITES ROAD RAGE
Dawdling in center of road or Fast Lane with no intent to get on with it!
Motorists on Mobile phone, calling and/or texting and driving.
Drivers who slam on the brakes without any rhyme or reason.
People who don’t believe in signaling whatsoever when turning!
Motorists who block traffic by stopping to shop for whatever!
Drivers who drive under the Speed Limit on Fast Lane on Expressways!
People who enter a main road from a side lane without stopping.
Those who merge into traffic without indicating.
Those who don’t allow others to merge.
Drivers who have a habit of overtaking on left and/or tailgating dangerously.
People who don’t keep a constant speed as they are busy turning head & talking.
Drivers who cut other drivers off leaving hardly any space making others to brake!
Those who drive right across a busy road such as Galle Road – from land side to sea side!
RESEARCH FINDINGS ON ROAD RAGE GLOBALLY [Courtesy Reader’s Digest Aug 2018]
“Road Rage is increasingly common, with more than 70 per cent of drivers in Australia and 20 per cent in New Zealand having experienced Road Rage in the past year. According to a survey by the Australian NRMA [National Roads and Motorists’ Association], almost one in five drivers admitted to committing road rage, and 22 per cent of these incidents happened with children under the age of 15 in the car.”
SO WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON FORM OF ABUSE?
Leaning on horn came in top at 75 per cent
Followed by abusive ‘hand gestures’ at 44 percent
Mouthing abuse at 31 per cent
Disturbingly, after being a victim of road rage, more than 40 per cent of respondents reported losing confidence while driving, vide research findings.
HISTORY OF DRIVER ANGER aka ROAD RAGE
The British magazine ‘The Oldie’ unearthed a case of ‘Carriage Rage’ dating back to 1817! It was an indication that we humans can have trouble handling frustrations on our way from point A to point B. But the current term ‘Road Rage’ was coined in the late 1980s when news anchors in the USA reported a grisly spate of freeway shootings. Not much has changed even now with its shootings at will reported so frequently – perhaps its lax Gun Laws and indeed Gun Culture making Road Rage a killer phenomenon!
LATEST RESEARCH FINDINGS FROM MONASH UNIVERSITY, AUSTRALIA
A 2017 study of almost 3,000 drivers by the Monash University Accident Research Centre in Australia revealed the majority of people admitting to some form of aggressive driving. The worst offenders according to this Report were male drivers aged between 22 and 39. More than a third of these admitted to extreme Road Rage and said they had driven after another driver at least once while angry.
LADIES TOO TEND TO GET ANGRY BEHIND THE WHEEL
The above Report also confirms that while several studies have shown male drivers are more likely to commit road violence, women tend to feel angrier behind the wheel. Sounds familiar?
ROAD RAGE IS ALL ENCOMPASSING!
Most shockingly, 96 per cent of drivers who had been involved in a car crash reported they had experienced aggressive behavior on the roads. Perhaps not surprisingly, the study also found overly aggressive drivers were much more likely to make bad choices, such as driving and holding a Mobile phone, inappropriate speeding with no regard to location and also Drink-Driving.
PEOPLE FEEL ANONYMOUS WHEN COCOONED IN CARS
Even when it doesn’t lead to violence, Road Rage has become more than just a strange quirk of driving behavior, say advocates of Road Safety. It is a symptom of a self-focused worldview, and because people feel anonymous in their cars, they feel they can be rude or worse – and not be held accountable.
Dr. Bridie Scott-Parker studies Road Rage and leads the Adolescent Risk Research Unit at the University of the Sunshine Coast. “By travelling inside a vehicle we are effectively inside an insulated bubble,” she says, “This isolation means we sometimes engage in behavior we wouldn’t normally engage in.”
GOLDEN RULES FOR MANAGING ROAD RAGE
RULE 1 Never get out of your car and do not engage in a conversation or respond to rude hand gestures
RULE 2 Do not make eye contact. Maintain your attention on the road in front of you, even if you are stopped at Traffic Lights, and remember to lock all your doors and close all your windows.
HERE ARE MY PRACTICAL, SIMPLE WAYS TO ‘STAY ON COURSE’ SANS ROAD RAGE
 Avoid getting into your car to drive when angry or emotionally disturbed. Take a brief walk outdoors, whilst inhaling & exhaling ‘long breaths’ of say 4 ‘sets’ per minute for just 5 minutes, it’ll will calm you.
 Drive with a mind-set of ‘Giving Way’ at every opportunity. I know it sounds difficult but the positive response such courtesy brings forth is remarkable! When driving Upcountry, stop and give way for vehicles climbing up; stop and give way for those wanting to join your stream of traffic from a lane etc. Stop when you see a pedestrian at a Pedestrian Crossing; you’d be ‘greeted’ perhaps with a cacophony of irate car honking behind you – just keep calm. When someone tailgates you, immediately give way: let that aggressive guy/gal overtake you – no fuss. TIP: Do leave on any journey earlier, to avoid stress!
 When in turn when someone gives way to you, wave your hand with a smile that means: THANK YOU! That positive gesture could make that person’s day, you never know. Idea is to live and breathe courtesy especially when driving; let this courtesy wave be infectious! So remember, it pays to be courteous!
Think and act courteously on roads and be the change against Road Rage! Stay Safe & Drive Safe!
Dyan Seneviratne [firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com]