Road rage is estimated to be a factor in nearly half of all car crashes. Now, a new Canadian study finds cutting in and weaving are the two biggest triggers of road rage.
Dr. Scott Bea did not take part in the study but is a clinical psychologist at Cleveland Clinic. "It may be that people are more reflexively frightened if somebody cuts in front of them and that fear my quickly turn into aggravation or agitation if people feel endangered. So, some people may be more predisposed to over-respond, almost reflexively and that's one of the things that makes road rage hard to get rid of, it's happening as a reflex."
Researchers at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health surveyed complaints about unsafe or aggressive driving posted on the website roadragers.com. Of the more than 5,000 complaints posted between 1999 and 2007, more than half involved drivers cutting-in or weaving in traffic. Speeding accounted for 29 percent of the entries and another 25 percent were tied to hostile displays from other drivers. Researchers say more studies are needed, but Dr. Bea says if you'd like to cut down your fits of road rage- practice.
"Imagine a provoking scene of a driver maybe cutting in front of you. Let that happen as vividly as you can. Second step is to image your haywire reaction to it. See your heart rate pick up, your muscles get tight having a whole set of agitated thoughts go through your head and then maybe some agitated verbalizations or behaviors. Suspend that image and replace it with an image of how you'd like to see yourself respond." Dr. Bea says to practice these steps once a day until you can figure out a way to react more calmly the next time you're cut-off in traffic. Complete findings for this study are in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.
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