Incidences of road rage have become more prevalent in the UK. Many people found guilty of such offenses, often face a custodial sentence or in some extreme cases end up in prison.
In the past, what is now commonly known as “road rage”, was a comparatively rare on British roads. Nevertheless, since the 1990’s, aggressive driving has increasingly hit the headlines and there has been several high-profile cases in which people have lost their lives, due to these incidents turning into violence and assault.
Much research has been done on the cause of road rage, as it is a useful benchmark to measure modern attitudes to anger and the causes of anger.
It is strongly suspected that the rate of road rage is much higher than reported, as many people do not want to admit they get angry at all. Moreover, many might consider incidences of road rage as part of modern day driving.
It is not surprising that the incidences of road rage are higher in the male population, rising sharply in young men.
The anatomy of road rage
For illustration, we will be using a hypothetical incident of road rage; but this will sound familiar to you. Steve a salesman for a large IT company, he is late for a meeting, with an important customer. Unfortunately, it is Monday morning and Steve gets caught in heavy traffic on the motorway. Steve goes to pull off for his junction, at this moment He has undertaken by a driver, who cuts off. Steve slams on the brakes and slams on the horn and is quite shaken up by this incident, as he pulls up to a roundabout, he sees a driver of the car. Steve winds down his window to talk to him. This starts a verbal altercation. Steve gets out of the car in a rage and hits the other driver, as he sits in his car. Unfortunately, a police patrol car is it the same roundabout and Steve is arrested for assault.
What has gone wrong? Here is how Steve reaction has fired up some primitive responses, which is commonly known as the three spheres, or primal reactions.
The next time you are cut up like Steve, you will have the knowledge you need to stop these primal responses. Neuroscientists would tell you that Steve reaction is grounded in the primitive limbic system, the brain. The limbic system is for controlling survival responses, its perceived threat, but only if certain factors are in place. In the case Steve, He saw the motorway as a limited resource, and the other driver stopping him getting to work, effectively stopping him maintaining his residence, and potentially being humiliated, or shamed in front of other drivers, or contribute to this, which is part of the relationship response.
Unfortunately, what happened to Steve happens to a lot of us. We believe we have anonymity as a driver, but this is a perception which is not real. Like the cyberspace, text messaging and even voicemail, anonymity is not benign. What is missing from this scenario? Steve could not see the face of the other driver. Seeing the face of the other person, you have an issue with plays a vital part in moderating your anger. Unfortunately, Steve is sitting in a machine and is lacking that vital information. Fundamentally, he lacks proper a relational component of direct human, his primal responses kicked in, because of the lack of information and his anger when unchecked.
What happened to Steve, can happen to you. One of the steps you can take is to notice how long it takes for you to get angry. Furthermore, notice how long it takes other people to get frustrated, angry with you. Asking yourself why they became frustrated keeping this question in mind will help you recognise rage and anger.
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