Kids in carseats
A recent survey found that children are a cause of road rage, among other things. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A study has found that a common cause of “road rage” among British drivers is their children. Squabbling children in the backseat, tailgating and bicyclists were the most cited causes of road rage in the study.

Quest for fitness and kids ticking British drivers off

In George Carlin’s 1988 stand-up comedy special “What am I Doing in New Jersey?”, the legendary comic excoriates bicyclists, saying “Didn’t your mother tell you to leave your toys at home?” He may have been onto something.

A recent survey, according to the Daily Mail, was conducted by Carcraft, a chain of used car dealerships in the U.K., and it examined common causes of “road rage.” Road rage is often defined as a person being angered while driving, or being incensed into committing an act of aggressive driving.

Carcraft’s survey found one-third of men and one-quarter of women had experienced road rage due to their children quibbling in the backseat. The survey found that bicyclists riding two abreast in a lane caused road rage among one-third of respondents of both sexes. The next most common cause was tailgating, with 28 percent of respondents reporting road rage because of a driver following too closely.

Little agreement on definition

The criteria for what is definitively road rage differs. Some define it as simply being angry behind the wheel, others define it as driving aggressively due to irritation at other drivers. Another definition is the assault or injury of another person because of something that happened on the roadway.

According to the South Source, the student newspaper of South University, a for-profit college franchise, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that “aggressive driving is a traffic offense; road rage is a criminal offense.”

Leon James, a University of Hawaii psychology professor, is a leading academic in studying the phenomenon. He testified before Congress in 1997, and stated that road rage or aggressive driving has “deep roots” in American culture. People are brought up observing their parents engage in similar behavior and see it on television. Dr. James also points out that road rage incidents are often the result of a perceived insult by another driver, coupled with “an inability to let go of a desire to punish and retaliate” against the offender.

Angry people acting angrily

According to WebMD, part of the problem could be territorial instincts among humans. As more cars are on the road, people feel crowded. Crowding leads to stress, stress to anger and anger to road rage. Some research suggests that people that already have anger management issues are more likely to have road rage.

A study from the Harvard Medical School, according to LiveScience.com, suggests some cases of road rage are caused by Intermittent Explosive Disorder. According to the National Institutes of Health, Intermittent Explosive Disorder or IED is a condition where people will become angry and lash out “grossly out of proportion” to an external circumstance.

Sources

Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2044303/Stop-squabbling-Children-main-cause-road-rage.html

SouthSource: http://source.southuniversity.edu/what-causes-road-rage-33045.aspx

Dr. Leon James website DrDriving.com: http://www.drdriving.org/articles/testimony.htm

WebMD: http://women.webmd.com/features/root-cause-of-road-rage

LiveScience: http://www.livescience.com/3696-road-rage-lose.html

WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/news/20000420/getting-grip-road-rage

National Institutes of Health: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/science-news/2006/intermittent-explosive-disorder-affects-up-to-16-million-americans.shtml

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