Road rage is relatively an upcoming concept that began in the 1990s after media put more focus on incidents leading to road rage. A number of commentators are of the idea that road rage more of media invention rather than actual occurrences. It is likely that a driver could have encountered one form or another of road rage either as a victim or a perpetrator. Moreover, road rage and results of aggressive driving include deaths and other forms of damage amounting to billions of dollars. Unfortunately, there is likely more such problems since vehicle use is increasing every day. As a result, some countries such as UK, US, and China have started to adopt measures of preventing careless driving especially after the acknowledgment that road rage is a real problem.
Within the definition of road rage, there ought to be all manner of anti-social behavior and aggressive use of the road. The behaviors affiliated with road rage range from horn beeping, gestures, and attempts that threaten to physical assault. A much broader definition is used in this scenario since the problems being addressed much bigger than behaviors of the criminal aspect. According to Ayar (2006) the British Crime Survey unit indicated 54% of the drivers to have been victims of road rage though just 3% faced the threat of violence, and another 9% had been coerced to pull over. The conceptualization as adopted by American Automobile Association (AAA) for Traffic Safety perceives aggression as having no regard towards other peoples’ safety. According to AAA, aggressive driving is a more common phenomenon than road rage but in most cases the latter is seen as the extreme extension of aggressive practices. There are four dimensions of road rage including driving aggressiveness, impatient driving, and competition on the road and punishing kind of driving. The four dimensions have been used by Israel researchers and more than 60% participants admitted to one form or another of aggressive driving.
Like other forms of anger, road rage may result from stress and anger. Stress is usually a result of ‘stressors’ that are occurrences that cause a disturbance in the equilibrium demanding some adaptive responses. Stress as a factor causes physical changes to a body and stimulates one adopt either a flight or fight response. In such a case, the biological reactions happening in one’s body tend to increase the strength by reducing the supply of blood to extremities and hence boosting the potential to aggression. In the event of driving, the flight option is not realistic and, therefore, the predominant response if ‘fight’. It is argued that driving in congested areas is a major factor contributing towards stress with even people who are slow to anger, fast losing control. In such environments, the drivers are exposed to numerous stressors like the noise pollution, congestion, and very disturbing temperatures. According to Nahl (2002) there are a number of triggering factors of stress such as immobility and inability to take control of situations. While listening to recorded tapes and analysis of messages collected from thousands of drivers, James a researcher, found out that drivers are in the constant encounter of anger and frustrations even when doing short trips. As in the effect of Jekyll and Hyde, even the very ordinary, amicable and big-hearted persons tend to be excessively intolerant and adopt anti-social behaviors the soonest they sit behind the driving wheel. It seems like the driver’s personality faces a rapid transmission to being emotionally unintelligent from their previous status of being polite and very tolerant.
Also, there is a perception that driving is a male-oriented activity that comes along with the power to control machines while taking risks on speed. Zuckerman supports this idea with the notion that males are higher risk takers as compared to females. Even though male drivers are more likely competitive, female, on the other hand, tend to be careful and rarely take chances. While women are considerate of road users and respect traffic rules, men are rude and have little self-control. Moreover, the response to stress is different for women. While the men are more drifted towards ‘fights’, women adopt a ‘tend and befriend’ reaction. As a result, women are better drivers compared to men since they are more concerned about welfare. In fact, women are charged lower premiums by the insurance companies because they have a lower probability to causing accidents. On the contrary, James a traffic psychologist observes that in recent time’s women have become more aggressive drivers just like their fellow men in emotional reactions. He argues that what matters most is the power of the car rather than muscles.