SWOV Catalogus


Rage and violence of driver aggression.
C 12251 (In: C 12233 [electronic version only]) /83 / IRRD 492611
Ward, N.J. Waterman, M. & Joint, M.
In: Behavioural research in road safety VIII : proceedings of a seminar, 1998, p. 155-167, 11 ref.

Samenvatting `Road Rage' was introduced into the public vocabulary by the popular media. Despite its common reference, the term has not been formally defined. Many of the colloquial uses of the term make reference to common features. These features relate `road rage' to an extreme emotional state that precipitates aggressive behaviour toward another road user. The concern given to this phenomena is a result of the presumed sensational nature of 'road rage' whereby otherwise passive individuals become enraged and act violently toward other road users. However, there have been few studies which have examined whether this presumption is valid. This report presents a survey of anger and violence in the traffic context to examine the association between the emotional and behavioural components of `road rage'. Specifically, the survey investigated the validity of common conceptions about `road rage': (1) it involves an extreme emotional response; (2) it involves violent behaviour; (3) the amount of violence is related to the emotional response; (4) all drivers are susceptible to it. The authors conclude that `Road Rage' does not appear to be a distinctive phenomena as implied by commonly held conceptions. This suggests that a less emotive term should be applied such as `driver aggression'. This term focuses on the behaviour of drivers rather than any link to an emotional state. Aggressive driving can be exhibited because of anger, but also because of other emotions (e.g. frustration) and motives (e.g. time pressure) as well as poor skill or lack of attention. By limiting the scope of behaviours to those that are based on anger alone, other forms of behaviour and remedial action are excluded. To the extent that all forms of aggressive behaviour can influence traffic safety, driver aggression should be the focus of traffic safety practitioners. Reliance on the term `road rage' may hinder improvements to traffic safety by: (1) distracting attention from more significant safety factors (e.g. alcohol and drug use), (2) provide the impetus to formulate dubious safety interventions in the absence of a valid definition and theoretical framework, and (3) legitimise aggressive behaviour (self-fulfilling prophecy).
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