ARE YOU A CANDIDATE FOR ROAD RAGE?
We have all heard the shocking stories of people being run off the road, or even shot by an enraged driver.
How likely are you to be the victim or perpetrator of road rage?
Virginia Tech psychologist Scott Geller has spent over 20 years studying road safety and became interested in road rage in 1993 after reading of a driver killed in an incident. He developed surveys that indicate your personality type usually determines the kind of driver you are.
Characteristics of courteous drivers include high
self-esteem, a sense of belonging to a larger community, and empowerment. People with "can-do" attitudes, who
believes they are in control of their destinies, and expect the best--these are drivers who yield, wave you on,
use signals, and follow the rules of the road. Road ragers are generally fatalists who
feel out of control, hostile, and aggressive. They're impulsive and believe driving
is a contest. Unfortunately, this attitude is a no-win situation. "You add impulsivity to hostility and high-risk behavior,
and you've got the ingredients for extreme road rage," Geller says.
Answer the following scenarios to determine your propensity towards road rage:
The higher the number of your answer, the higher your aggression. What can you do to lower your aggression?
Take deep breaths, listen to relaxing music, count to ten, and plan ahead. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your
destination; avoid rush hour traffic if at all possible. Sit back, relax, and think nice thoughts. You will get there, and
most importantly, you will be alive.
- You are driving your car down a two-lane road. Without warning, another car pulls out in front of you from a parking
lot. You had to brake suddenly to avoid hitting it. How do you respond?
- Let out a sigh of relief and drive on.
- Lean out your window and yell at the other driver.
- Honk your horn to let the other driver know they almost caused an accident.
- Follow the other driver to its destination so you can give him a piece of your mind.
- Driving down the interstate in the passing lane, you approach a car going slower than you are. Even though you
flash your high beams as a signal to get over, it does not. How do you respond?
- Shrug your shoulders and continue to wait for the driver to get over.
- Make an obscene gesture as you pass on the right.
- Continue flashing your high beams hoping the behavior will cause the car to move over.
- Start driving on the bumper and honk your horn.
- You are in a full parking lot. You see a driver leaving, put on your blinker to indicate you intend to take the
parking space. As the other driver pulls out, a second driver cuts in front of you and takes the parking space. How
do you respond?
- Shrug your shoulders and look for another parking space.
- Glare angrily at the other driver as you move on to find another space.
- Wait for the other driver to get out of the car, scream out your window at him/her for being an inconsiderate
- Stop your car, approach the other car to express your anger to the driver.
You are driving in the passing lane at 75 mph. The speed limit is 55 mph. A car comes up from behind you very
quickly. Soon the other vehicle is right on your bumper and the driver flashes his headlights and honks the horn.
How do you respond?
- As soon as possible change lanes and let the other car pass.
- Stay in the same lane at your current speed.
- Give the other driver the finger and stay in the passing lane at your current speed
- Give the other driver the finger and purposely slow down to aggravate the driver behind you.
- You are traveling in a single lane late at night and the vehicle coming at you has on high beams. You flash your
lights, but the brights don't change. How do you respond?
- Grit your teeth in frustration and wait for the other car to pass so you can see again.
- Put on your high beams in retaliation.
- Put on your high beams and honk your horn.
- Turn around and follow the other car with your high beams on.
Dr. Geller is working on seminars, structured feedback situations, and other sources of
motivation to reduce road rage among drivers of all ages. He
believes there are three ways to improve driver courtesy on the roads: instruction, support with positive feedback, and
motivation to become "consciously competent," which says if a person knows better,
he/she will do better.
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