The road rage phenomenon is widespread in the continental United States but it’s not well known. The target group is the motorists but they recognize it as a daily experience in traffic. To them it is a issue of who is right and wrong and then the confrontation dies off. Most of the motorists are not subjected to the fatal side of road rage, which is less common. The paper looks into all scenarios that road rage may occur, the characters to watch out for while driving and tips on how to avoid injuries. The paper also looks at how the public in general can assist in reducing these cases.
Most motorists should be asked in training, are they prepared for the unexpected? This is not to refer to an accident, but to scenarios involving road rage, how will the new or old motorists handle the situation? The same should be put across to their counterparts in the law enforcement sector. Road rage scenarios are devastating to motorists who have not had prior experience; this naivety should be avoided through the use of information on how to deal with them.
Road rage is the rude or aggressive behavior displayed by motorists; this behavior is insulting to their fellow motorists (Davis, 2010, p45). The parties engaged in a road rage throw verbal and gestural insults at one another as a sign of how each party aggravations by the actions of the other. In most cases, one’s car gets damaged from the unsafe driving other motorists, so the anger is justifiable; but this escalates to altercations, assaults and collisions at the expense of payback for wrongs done. A situation, which could be resolved, through the use of negotiations and an exchange of insurance information turns into a potential crime scene. If the same people in the incident were to review it several days later they could be full of regret and realize that there are amicable solutions to such a situation (Swan, Bill & Steve, 2006 pg48).
The term road rage was first used in United States by newscasters at KTLA in 1988. The term described irrational behavior on the 405, 110 and 10 freeways in California, where motorists engaged in a shooting. These incidences of shootings made organizations such as the AAA Motor club prepare its clients on how to tackle road rage (Larson, John & Rodriguez, 1999 pg 79)
Most of the motorists are oblivious of the road rage phenomenon. However, when a road rage example is described, they suddenly relate to the occurrence, in most case they even dish out examples to the instructor (Swan, Bill & Steve, 2006 pg69). To them, road rage is an easy decision a driver makes in order to get ahead in traffic, to speed up, to tailgate, ignoring stop signs or cutting off other drivers. These behaviors are normal to them, and they describe them as a necessary evil on the road if one has to survive the madness of traffic.
In order for you to understand road rage, I am going to research it from all possible angles: its statistics, behavior of aggressive drivers, protecting oneself from road rage among other indicators. The statistics taken by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show the extent of road rage in the American society. You may be quick to insinuate that most of the road accidents are cause by road rage, but that is not the case. The number of people who have died in traffic from the year 1990 is around 250,000 the statistics indicate that only two thirds of the deaths caused by aggressive drivers. From 1990, aggressive actions on the road account for 66 percent of all annual fatalities on the road. This numbers are increasing down the years because of the increased pace of the urban life (Maria, 2006 pg 49). Most of the accidents that happen on the roads cause more casualties than death, out of 12 million injuries aggressive driving accounts for 12,160 injuries. These statistics indicate a 51 percent increase in the number of incidents caused by aggressive drivers. 37 percent of the incidents have involved the use of a firearm a further 28 percent included the use of other weapons, and in almost 35 percent cars are used as weapons. Most traffic police enforcement officers blame the trend on the increased number of motorists every year (Galovski, Loretta & Edward, 2006 pg78)
Road rage statistics do not cover the grey areas involving pedestrians who do not follow the stipulated traffic laws. Pedestrians do not have well established rules to follow most of the time they are a forgotten bunch. Most of them only recognize the zebra crossing sign and traffic lights which are not available for all roads at all sections (Larson, John & Rodriguez, 1999 pg 67). Also, flyovers for crossing highways are sometimes too far away, these conditions necessitate them to improvise in order to cross the road. In most cases crossing busy roads puts the pedestrian at loggerheads with the motorists who argue that the pedestrian ought to cross at a zebra crossing (Davis, 2010, p66). Such confrontations are cause of road rage between the two parties, and the pedestrian is at a disadvantage. In the worst case scenario, the motorist hits the pedestrian or gets injured. Therefore, as a pedestrian one should revisit the traffic laws, ignorance should be no excuse.
Researchers define road rage as a form of anger which expressed on the road. So what are the manifestations of this anger on the road and is it intentional or a conditional response? If a driver is suddenly braking or accelerating, this is an aggressive driver, and might be the cause of altercations to follow from fellow drivers (Larson, John & Rodriguez, 1999 pg 84). These abrupt actions usually destroy other cars on the road. Deliberately preventing others in a lane by closing or cutting inside a lane may evoke dire actions from fellow motorists who are similarly in a hurry. Incessant honking of the horn by a driver also disrupts the harmony on the road; the horn is a tool for alerting other drivers with irrational behavior. Rude gestures to fellow drivers, verbal abuses, threats, assaulting other motorists is but a few examples of road rage instances. Any action is unwarranted while using the road then it might be a form of road rage (Galovski, Loretta & Edward, 2006 pg105)
The US government is not blind to this phenomenon, in most states it is an endangerment to public safety. Those drivers who cause serious injury or death face more serious penalties than those who do not cause such harm. Separating road rage from aggressive driving in legal terms is an issue; states like California have given road rage a new meaning for differentiation purposes. Another issue is that of reckless driving, is it a form of aggressive driving or road rage. Such are the concerns raised in the prosecution of perpetrators (Swan, Bill & Steve, 2006 pg73).
With all this studies on road rage and its effects, but what can we do to curb these effects? The drivers are the cause of mayhem and should be the ones in reducing it. Studies show that anger is the motivation to aggressiveness on the road this infers that if we can control the anger we can control road rage incidences (Galovski, Loretta & Edward, 2006 pg49). Those found guilty of aggressive driving should be referred to anger-management classes instead of jail time. Also, some activities we partake in are the cause of all our troubles: lane blocking, tailgating, brake-tapping, improper signal use and merging, are some of the activities one should persist. When a driver renews his or her license, they should be forwarded to do a crash course in order to remind themselves the laws. Also, pedestrians should not be left behind in such activities; their rules should be in pamphlets, billboards to be a constant reminder of their rules.
The motorists should be taught on how to avoid confrontations by avoiding gestures and eye contact. The two behaviors make the exchange personal and lead to beatings, stabbing and sometimes shooting. Also, they induce a form of challenge to the insulted driver this may cause violent altercations later (Davis, 2010, p91). Also, avoid the use of offensive decals and bumper stickers on your vehicle because one risks offending fellow motorists.
A highway or in general any road is a public amenity, and this requires that all citizens should share the resource. Courteous behavior should be encouraged among drivers those violate the code should be apprehend and punished. If respect and understanding prevail among them, the injuries and fatalities from road rage can become a thing of the past. The car manufacturing companies are putting maximum effort in promoting ethical behavior on the roads by making smart cars (Swan, Bill & Steve, 2006 pg 98). These cars are safe, and they can guide the owner in traffic thereby avoiding incidences of misconduct. The proper use of lanes during traffic, heeding to road signs and traffic lights should not be a responsibility of the car. The car is supposed to help us be good drivers and not to forget the rules of the road, Finally, road rage is not cancer eating away society rather it is a symptom of urbanization.