The Psychology of Road Rage

14 May

According to a national survey by an insurance company…when a driver gets flipped the middle finger, gets cut off or tailgated, 50 percent of the “victims” respond with horn honking, yelling, cutting-off and obscene gestures of their own.  Not surprisingly men are more likely to respond with anger than women are.

What is it with driving anger?

I mean, when someone cuts me off I usually get peeved. too. I rarely think, “Oh, well, that’s ok; they’re in a rush.” or “Hmm. They’re just an asshole. La la la la.”

Why?

I mean, is it so hard to just ignore poor drivers? I mean, who wants to add more stress to their life?

It’s like whenever you get into or witness a fender bender–more than likely the person who got hit gets angry? “WTF?!!! YOU HIT MY CAR!!” As if the person who bumped/hit their car did it on purpose when 98% of the time its an accident. 

It’s not called an auto deliberation, it’s called an auto accident.

What’s with us?

And the thing that really gets me is when we get angry because some random stranger gives us the finger or mouths the word “dumb ass” to us. Who cares? Most people don’t matter in your life, never will by any stretch of the imagination, so why do we react so emotionally?

Are we wired to “defend” ourselves, even when there’s nothing, really to defend?

These are questions I have. Not only for you but for myself.

Why do some people, after a road rage incident, follow the person who enraged them? I mean, ok, so you may/may not have scared them a bit by following them from block to block, turn by turn but in the end you’ll probably just end up pulling up beside them, rolling down your window and informing them that you think they’re a poor driving mother-rucker and to have a really bad day.

Really? Was that worth the gas? The time? Did it really truly make you feel better about yourself? Will the person you tongue lashed even remember you next year? Will you remember them?

There’s something weird that happens to people in traffic that doesn’t happen anywhere else. There’s something to the whole “Hey, I was here first, buddy.” We also act similarly while standing in lines. If/when someone cuts in front of us we go ballistic. Our nostrils flare. Our feet get tense.

Reading this just brought the whole wondering home.  Here’s a quote from this interesting piece brought to you by HowStuffWorks.com regarding road rage and what’s really behind it:

“It [the car] is also a cultural and psychological object, associated with the driver’s internal mental and emotional dynamics, our ego. Cars are an extension of the self, they are ego-laden objects that can be used both positively and negatively to get our own way on the road. The automobile offers us a means to exercise direct control over our environment. When we enter the car we use it as an outlet for regaining a sense of control. Automobiles are powerful, and obedient. They respond instantly and gratifyingly to our command, giving us a sense of well being that comes with achieving control over one’s environment..”

Something’s really wrong when a car controls that much within a person.

There are a lot of people who need to be on foot. Period.

I used to spray lavender mist in my car once when I had an awful commute. I did. I think it worked, too. Major assholes were reduced to medium-sized assholes.

Want to know which U.S. cities have the worst road rage? It’s here.  Glad I don’t live in Miami though my area, Washington, D.C., is number five on the list.

Gone shopping for lavendar mist. 

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