Driving Psychology (Psy 409a); September 17, 2006

Road Rage: It’s All Over the World

By: Kasey Vanderhoof



Instructions for this activity are found at:


Instructor: Dr. Leon James



Leon James and Diane Nahl (2000). Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering

Clear of Highway Warfare. (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books). Reviewing pages 15

To 32.


  1. Passenger of an Aggressive Driver (Diane’s Story)
    1. Scared by driver

                                                               i.      Unable to say to because the driver becomes irritable and angry

    1. May be referred to as a backseat driver
    2. Complaints are dismissed


  1. Aggressive Driver (Leon’s Story)
    1. The driver is in charge
    2. Passengers should be cooperative and grateful
    3. Hates being told how to drive

                                                               i.      Puts up a defense mechanism

1.      Denying certain things happened

2.      Yelling, name calling, threatening

3.      Questions the passengers right of telling the driver how they should drive


  1. Road Rage: Real or Media Hype?
    1. The term road rage was introduced by the popular media

                                                               i.      No agreed upon definition

                                                             ii.      This phrase is used to refer to an extreme state of anger which is followed by aggressive behavior, sometimes restricted to words and gestures, sometimes as assault and battery

    1. Aggressive driving refers to reckless behavior, such as running red lights or suddenly breaking in front of another driver, as well as speeding, tailgating, and lane hopping
    2. Although cars and roads are safer and medical emergency operations are faster and better the annual death toll remains constant at about 40,000 per year and the yearly toll in injuries has reached six million per year

                                                               i.      Deaths due to crashed has decreases thought

1.      In the 1950’s there was about 50,000 deaths per year

    1. According to MSNBC road rage is considered a mental disorder called intermittent explosive disorder (to see more about this click on click number two at the end of the page)


  1. Road Rage and Aggressive Driving
    1. On average more than one person per hour is injured in car related accidents (this statistic comes from Philadelphia)
    2. Aggressive drivers kill two to four times more people than drunk drivers
    3. Aggressive drivers feel justified in dominating others

                                                               i.      This is what makes it aggressive driving


  1. A World Wide Phenomenon
    1. A decline in aggressive driving seems unlikely in the near future
    2. Evidence of the problem of aggressive driving continues to surface around the globe
    3. We have become so used to road rage and aggressive driving that you rarely hear complaints about it

                                                               i.      Road rage and aggressive driving has become the norm

    1. About two out of three people say that the behavior of motorists has changed for the worse
    2. The most common types of aggressive driving that people experience most often are:

                                                               i.      Aggressive tailgating

                                                             ii.      Lights flashed at them in annoyance

                                                            iii.      Rude gestures (for example, flipping people off)

                                                           iv.      Deliberately obstructing or preventing a driver from maneuvering

    1. More under drivers, under the age of 35, (76%) admitted to aggressive driving behaviors than drivers over 54 (34%)
    2. Road rage and aggressive driving is a world wide problem, rooted in culture ideology


  1. Facing the Culture of Disrespect
    1. It is estimated that there are billions of road rage exchanges every year among the 177 million U.S. drivers

                                                               i.      This does not include the 1200 assault and battery incidents reported each year by the police

    1. There are two symptoms that define road rage

                                                               i.      The feeling of rage accompanied by mental violence

                                                             ii.      The desire to punish and retaliate

    1. Deborah Tannen

                                                               i.      Examines the dynamics of the culture of disrespect

                                                             ii.      Says, “Young men drive more aggressively because in driving they express a ritual opposition in their struggle for status.” (P29)

    1. Violent behaviors such as road rage and aggressiveness are reinforced and rewarded through success and avoidance of punishment

                                                               i.      Success implies getting to your destination early, for example

                                                             ii.      Avoidance of punishment implies not being pulled over by a police officer, for example

    1. Aggressive driving is a criminal misdemeanor and a felony in many states
    2. Most drivers interactions are small and minor lasting only a few seconds

                                                               i.      These interactions have an impact of peoples moods, feeling, and thoughts which may last many hours

    1. Learned negativity is a characteristic of this generations driving norms
    2. For million, driving has become an emotional irritant that contaminated their mood practically everyday




Related Links:

  1. Road Rage


I chose this website because you can take quizzes that will teach you about your driving style.  It gives you statistics on road rage as well as up to date news coverage on road rage.  It explains to you how to deal with an aggressive drive (maybe Diane, who is mentioned in the beginning of this paper, could have used some of these techniques and maybe you can too.

  1. Road Rage: Is it a Mental Disorder?


This website explains the whole idea behind road rage being considered a mental disorder.  It explains this new concept and attempts to define road rage. Well, do you think road rage is a mental disorder?  Read this article and decide for yourself.

  1. Aggressive Driving


This website explains what aggressive driving is and what different types of aggressive driving are.  It also  explains about how aggressive driving is increases.



My homepage: http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leon/409af2006/vanderhoof/vanderhoof-home.htm

Class Homepage: http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/leonj/leonj/leonpsy25/classhome-g25.htm