Road Rage: Ugly Facts of Growing Anger and Aggression in Society

Do we as a united species of homosapiens have a growing anger management problem in today’s world? With the ongoing wars, terrorism, genocide, and general crime it appears that the humans of this planet have a serious issue with being able to constructively express anger. War and terrorism continue to make headline news across the United States each month as a testimony to our tendency towards violence.

However, on smaller more local scales, we can see our flaring aggression towards each other as close to us as our own backyards, streets and neighborhoods. Road rage is an easy phenomenon to find, all you need to search it out are your car, the keys and some available time to drive on congested roads. As this essay will explore, the cause for road rage seems to center on several factors including our lack of patience, lack of consideration for others and increased aggression.

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However, while deducing the causes takes up a good deal of energy, the questions of how to solve the problem still remain unanswered. As described by Deborah Lupton (2002), “Road rage is a new term, used to describe a range of aggressive and dangerous driving behaviours directed at other motorists. The phrase invokes images of uncontrolled temper, the open display of anger and frustration. ” Likewise, another commentary concerning the United Kingdom’s Royal Auto Club, states:

For the RAC, road rage is ‘simply a term to describe a range of anti-social, ill tempered, foolish or violent behaviours by a minority of drivers’. Under the rubric ‘anti-social, ill tempered, foolish or violent behaviours’ come headlight-flashing, tailgating, cutting in, obscene gestures, obstruction, verbal abuse, running over offending drivers or pedestrians, using various objects to smash windscreens, stabbing with screw drivers and knives, spraying with ammonia, threatening with guns, poking, punching, throttling, beating.

The RAC goes on to characterize road rage as entailing the ‘altering of an individual’s personality whilst driving by a process of dehumanisation’ and as ‘a total loss of self control’ (p2). (Michael, 2001, p. 58) While the loss of self control and violent displays of temper seem to embody the main characteristics of road rage, nothing as of yet has justified any person’s right to partake in such activities. Although persons exist who express road rage, there exist just as many of us who can tame our anger, and practice good manners on the road.

So, the first question that comes to mind regarding the material examined in the articles remains: what is the true source of such “rage” if many of us can contain ourselves opposed to those who cannot? People labeled with road rage have been described as, exploding with anger’, `monsters’, `frenzied’, `in a blind rage’, `evil’, `uncivilized’ and `bad to the bone’. (Lupton, 2002) Lupton also makes note that almost anyone has the potential to partake in road rage. With this fact in mind, the second question arises.

If all of us have the capability to participate in acts of road rage, what is being done to counteract that from happening? Preventative measures for road rage seem far and few between. People carrying firearms, toxic or caustic chemicals, weapons or items that could cause harm and destruction have immense capabilities to create pure havoc on the road. Not to mention that every car in itself is a potential weapon. Police cannot monitor every car and every driver on their route. Proactive measures to curb road rage needs to begin earlier.

The true sources, not speculation need immediate identification so that solutions can be established. Increased aggression appears often in the literature as a source of road rage, however, from where, or why does this aggression continue to grow? In summation, the readings of road rage leave us with two facts: One being that we see road rage and aggression exist and they may build upon each other; two being we have a potentially dangerous and expanding problem without many solutions available.