The Psychology Behind Road Rage: Emotional Intelligence is a Vital Prerequisite to Stop Bullying

Man shot in the chest in suspected road rage killingMan grabbed boy by throat in Kingston, Ont. road rage incident, A wild road rage altercation has ended with a man's foot trapped under the wheel of a car after it was run over during an dispute in Melbourne yesterdayPasig cop yields after Marikina road rage; 1 killed, 1 hurt. June 01, 2018 ... Not fiction, these are actual headlines from the news about road rage incidents. Such headlines appear all over the world with disturbing regularity.  So what makes some 'perfectly normal' people react like monsters once they get behind the wheel and how should one react if one is a victim of what is commonly known as road rage?

How often you must have experienced an aggressive driver flashing lights, honking, dangerously overtaking, deliberately driving uncomfortably close to your tail or by the side of your car and sometimes badmouthing you. While this happens often in cities and highways it is that much more alarming on the highways.

One study defines road rage as “an incident in which an angry or impatient motorist or passenger intentionally injures or kills another motorist, passenger, or pedestrian, or attempts or threatens to injure or kill another motorist, passenger, or pedestrian Road rage is uncontrolled anger that results in violence or threatened violence on the road. This criminal behavior that happens all the time, mostly goes unpunished unless there is actual violence or injury involved.

The related statistics are extremely disconcerting. In USA according to survey 90 percent of the motorists have been victims of road rage in 12 months. In Canada over 46 percent, in a study said they were shouted at, cursed or had rude gestures directed at them. 7.2 percent were threatened with damage to their vehicle or personal injury. A study in Italy found between 2700 to 8000 out of 100,000 of the younger men indulged in road rage. Injury and mortality are not uncommon due to road rage. Consumption of alcohol only adds to it.

Studies show that the prefrontal cortex or the brain is responsible for what we call emotional intelligence. It has also been observed that emotionally well developed people do not often indulge in anger or rage. So is one to speculate that it is mostly the less emotionally developed individuals who indulge in road rage. It would appear so. There is also a link between ego and anger

Among animals, aggression is a basic biological response and is mainly related to their instinct for survival. While anger among humans or even going as far as rage is difficult to justify whether related to the frontal cortex or ego or whatever else. After all we are supposed to be the thinking and rational species.

While it’s not always possible to avoid being a victim of road rage, it is strongly advisable to keep your eyes on the road, avoid eye contact with the individual who indulges in it, give way with ease of mind and be aware it is not personal. 

Photos: Shutterstock


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