The presented article by David Noonan describes the psychological phenomenon of road rage. A recently released report shows that a vast majority of U.S. drivers have engaged in antisocial acts during driving. The types of acts range from tailgating to personally confronting other drivers and bumping into their cars. The alarming statistic suggests that there are millions of drivers in the United States that are willing to harm other people and their property during the incidents of road rage (Noonan).
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The article then moves on to examine possible causes of driver aggression. Moral disengagement is proposed as one of the causes. The research of Jerry Deffenbacher is mentioned as one of the first in this area, as well as his measurement surveys. The research of Christine Wickers suggests that driver aggression is relatively evenly split between genders. However, driver violence is a predominantly male activity. One very interesting notion brought up by the article suggests that road rage is caused by the perception of privacy that a person feels inside the car, despite it being in public. Also, commonly drivers blame external factors for their actions while blaming other drivers for making mistakes (Noonan).
The article concludes with a section on possible solutions to the issue. Ray Faiola suggests that the primary way of dealing with such drivers is to disengage with them as quickly as possible. The same notion is backed by the spokesperson for the New Jersey State Police. Other solutions include modifying poorly designed intersections and signs. The author calls for more research and points out the possibility of more unreported road rage cases (Noonan).
The phenomenon of road rage is distressing to me because of its possible lethality. People often forget that nothing is preventing their death on the highway beside the collective effort of following the rules of the road. This is not unlike the principle that governs polite behavior. As pedestrians, people often just want to get to their destination in the least troublesome way possible. To do so, they try to avoid physical or any other type of contact with other pedestrians. If an incident occurs, it can easily be stopped by a member of law enforcement, which creates a strong deterrent. On the road, this is not the case. As the article points out, police are rarely present to stop the incidents, and the deterrent is gone, letting the driver give way to the negative emotions and actions.
The idea that every driver believes themselves to be in private while driving reads as true because such aggressive behavior would not be possible in any other public place. The current situation seems dire, but I believe that this is one of the problems that could be solved through technology. The future proliferation of self-driving cars should have a major effect on the presented statistics. The software of the cars is specifically designed not only to correct common mistakes of human drivers but also to prevent any dangerous driving. The cars are also able to communicate with each other, leading to cars plotting routes with the consideration of other cars on the road. The less standard cars are in use, the less road rage should be common while driving (Watzenig and Horn 541).
It is also important to note that the phenomenon of road rage is not unique to the United States and has been studied in other countries such as Malaysia (Sullman et al. 70) and Sri Lanka (Rodrigo et al. 86). These countries have a vastly different culture from America, and yet the results of the studies are not much different from them. The majority of the studied cases reported at least one type of offending behavior, and a small percentage encountered physical assault and damage to vehicles. Their results indicate that the issue is likely caused by the process of driving and the psychological state of the person behind the wheel, rather than external factors that may vary between cultures. The modern world is full of stress, and driving seems to be a major contributor.
Noonan, David. “External Combustion–Majority Of U.S. Motorists Admit To Venting Road Rage.” Scientific American, 2017, Web.
Rodrigo, A. et al. “Road Rage in Sri Lanka: Prevalence and Psychiatric Distress.” The Ceylon Medical Journal, vol. 60, no. 3, 2017, pp. 86-90.
Sullman, Mark J.M. et al. “Anger, Aggression and Road Rage Behaviour in Malaysian Drivers.” Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, vol. 29, 2015, pp. 70-82.
Watzenig, Daniel, and Martin Horn. Automated Driving: Safer And More Efficient Future Driving. Springer International Publishing, 2017.