Most drivers have experienced some level of annoyance or anger at other drivers on the road, but “road rage” is much more extreme. Road rage occurs when a driver’s extreme anger at other drivers’ perceived wrongdoing results in aggressive, angry, and potentially dangerous behaviour.
Aggressive driving behaviours include tailgating, speeding, failing to yield a right-of-way, cutting off other vehicles, swearing, rude gesturing, or making threats. These behaviours could result in subsequent altercations, assaults, and collisions.
A strong majority of Ontario drivers admit to driving behaviour that could be described as road rage. According to a study by the Canadian Journal of Public Health, 46% of Ontario drivers have been shouted at, cursed at, or had rude gestures directed at them while driving in the previous 12 months, and over 31% of them admitted to shouting or cursing at someone themselves.
Road rage appears to be most prevalent in drivers aged 18-34, with over 44% of them admitting to threatening or swearing at someone while driving. It also appears to be more prevalent among the wealthier segment of Ontario drivers. Over 44% of Ontario drivers earning over $80,000 a year admitted to swearing or threatening another driver.
According to a report by Leger Marketing for kanetix.ca, men also appear to be more likely to engage in road rage behaviour than women – although not by much. Among Canadian drivers, 83% of men and 76% of women admitted to engaging in some form of aggressive driving behaviour. Additionally, men were more likely to experience road rage after being cut off, while women were more likely to experience road rage for personal reasons, such as running late or having a bad day.
The Canadian Journal of Public Health study also found that drivers in highly congested traffic areas, such as Toronto, were more likely to be the recipients of shouts, curses, and rude gestures. This is likely due to the higher stress levels associated with urban driving.
The consequences of aggressive driving and road rage incidents can be severe. Just last summer, Ontario police charged a 27 year old truck driver for throwing a steel block through the window of another car, injuring a baby and five-year-old child. While this is an extreme example, road rage incidents can result in serious injury or even death.
Road rage is often caused by heightened stress. You can avoid becoming involved in a road rage incident by monitoring your own stress levels. Ensure that you get fresh air, breathe deeply, and listen to relaxing music while in a stressful driving scenario. If you are on a long trip, take a break from driving every now and then. If someone else’s driving annoys or angers you, do not try to retaliate. It is much better to leave traffic enforcement in the hands of police.
The next time you become angry on the road, remind yourself of the potential consequences. Do not take other drivers’ mistakes or behaviours personally and you can ensure that you will not become a perpetrator of road rage in the future.