Road Rage Encounters

Road RageRoad rage encounters are increasing.  A mom was involved in such an incident that devastated the family and the community of Las Vegas. Unintentional acts are often misunderstood and they may become intentional acts of bullying and hate. The need to address angry drivers is a concern for many motorists.

There is a history of violence in the United States related to road rage. Although the frequency of these actions being reported as murders is low, no one is keeping the state records of these incidences. It is not considered illegal in most states. However, there are about 20 states that have laws that refer to aggressive driving.

What is considered aggressive driving is basically a traffic moving violation where there is some endangerment to a person or property. It ranges from hand gestures, an exchange of words, to a cause of death. Unintentional acts are often perceived as intentional acts of bullying or the need to feel superior.

A good number of accidents occur due to aggressive driving. The California Highway Patrol was awarded four million dollars to address their many aggressive driving problems, including multiple encounters with road rage.

The biggest concern that leads to road rage is when people weave between lanes and those who drive with a lead foot. In fact, Georgia has authorized a serious attempt to address tailgating and other rude forms of driving. Texting, which causes drivers to be distracted, is another culprit.

Other issues that lead to road rage include passing too closely, preventing someone from changing lanes, tailgating, and flashing one’s headlights on high beam. It has been noted that these acts can be sparked because someone wants to have control, anger is unrestrained, an ego is unchecked, or there is a low-level of emotional intelligence.

Road rage may be addressed as a criminal offense because it involves a direct assault by someone with a motor vehicle or something of this nature used as a weapon. Documentation shows that those mostly likely to commit road rage are males under the age of 19. Unfortunately, this mom, who was attempting to give her daughter a driving lesson, was a target for road rage due to a traffic dispute.

There are often incidences where someone pulls in front of another driver or intentionally takes a parking spot while another driver is patiently waiting. When these kinds of situations occur, it is the person who repeatedly honks the car horn, yells profanity, uses unkind hand gestures, or bangs on the steering wheel that causes concern for any counseling psychologist.

Studies have indicated that anger intense drivers are hostile, aggressive thinkers, engage in risky behavior on the roadways, lose their tempers very easily, and are involved in more car accidents than those not demonstrating these characteristics.

Drivers are encouraged to use some simple tips to avoid becoming a statistic from road rage encounters such as the tragedy of this mom. Give full attention to personal driving, avoiding eye contact that is not necessary with drivers in neighboring lanes. Learn how to use stress breathing if something seems to be causing tension. Practice acts of kindness and compassion toward others sharing the road space. Become consciously aware of those specific issues that may lead to acts of personal road rage.

By Marie Wakefield


Christian Science Monitor


Psychology Today

Photo courtesy of Mark Hobbs – License

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