Road 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.
Aggressive driving can be described as "Driving under the influence of impaired emotions resulting in behavior that imposes risk on others". Aggressive driving behavior is a driver's attempt to respond to some type of situation or perceived problem using their available strategies. Unfortunately, these strategies are frequently ineffective or counter productive in resolving the issue and may ultimately result in the creation of greater problems for the driver and other road users.
Aggressive driving demonstrates hostility, lack of awareness, resistance to change, lack of emotional maturity, and cynicism towards authority. There are 2 types of aggressive drivers: Chronic and situational.
Chronic 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.
Situational aggressive drivers are responding to external pressures imposed on them as a result of schedules, traffic flows, the behavior of other drivers, environmental or other factors. Their otherwise safe responsible driving becomes aggressive under certain circumstances. These drivers may admit to the inappropriate nature of there behavior after the fact or alternatively justify it in a similar way to the chronic aggressive driver.
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.
A 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 tolerance:
All of us have indulged in some form of aggressive driving at some or the other, subject to our moods. This includes
o Cutting off, cutting in and slowing down.
o Changing lanes in a reckless manner or, weaving through traffic.
o Turning without signaling
o Cruising in the passing lane and not moving over
o Taking too long to turn or to get moving
o Yelling, insulting or gesturing at other drivers.
o Rushing or being impatient all the time.
o Tailgating and following too close
o Running a red light or speeding up to a yellow light.
The 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 second crash.
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:
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