The Phenomenon of Road Rage

Road rage may be defined as deviant and furious behavior of a motorist due to his loss of emotional control. Such antisocial behavior is usually manifested in aggressive driving and verbal abuse and/or rude gestures although incidents escalating into physical attacks are not rare as well.

According to latest studies, some drivers are more susceptible to road rage - it has been found that an average road rager is a young male (usually in this thirties), having raged at least 27 times. In addition, psychiatrists have tackled this phenomenon, too, focusing on excessive road rage, in particular. Namely, their findings suggest that perpetrators involved in such incidents suffer from "intermittent explosive disorder" (IED), the characteristics of which are explosive outbursts of anger and incapability to refrain from inflicting harm upon others. The factors that trigger such behavior range from chronic stress to an emotional crisis (for example, losing a job or a partner).

The term 'road rage' originated in California in the late 1980s when a rash of shooting incidents occurred on a couple of Los Angeles freeways. Since then, it has been a prevailing problem on the roads of that area with the statistics saying that there was a 51% increase in serious incidents of road rage in the period 1990-1996. More recent reports show that in 2007 Highway 138 was closed due to road rage directed at construction workers while in 2012, four men were involved in a fistfight on a freeway near downtown LA. These are just a few reasons why Los Angeles has been classified as a city with the least courteous drivers (along with Miami, Phoenix, New York and Boston).Therefore, the state of California has decided to turn road rage into a legal term of art and impose penalties for it.

If you run into a road rager while commuting to work, the golden rule is to avoid eye contact or any other confrontation whatsoever with the aggressive driver. Also, having your windows rolled up will prevent you from hearing possible profanities addressed to you, thus you will be able to stay focused on the road in front of you.  In addition, it is always a good idea to change lanes, giving your harasser space to pass on. In case none of these suggestions helps, contact the appropriate law enforcement agency and report dangerous driving.

On the other hand, if you are the one experiencing a surge of road rage, try to manage your anger and remember that courtesy and respect on the road are expected from you as a licensed operator of a motor vehicle. Try to suppress your feelings of annoyance towards other drivers by listening to relaxing music while driving, and above all, do not put your or other people's life in jeopardy with your reckless driving or impulsive reactions.

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