HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html It's Time To Take Ragers Off The Road
Pubdate: Mon, 03 Jul 2006
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2006 The Vancouver Sun
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cannabis and Driving)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Ecstasy)


Opinions Differ On The Causes Of Road Rage, But One Thing Is Clear: 
People With Anger Issues Don't Belong Behind The Wheel

The driver behind you is blasting his horn. You tested his patience 
dithering at the intersection and for the crime of delaying him he 
wants you to die. Now the chase begins. He's riding your bumper, 
flagging a middle finger, shouting obscenities. Suddenly, he pulls 
into the lane of oncoming traffic to pass, ignoring a pedestrian 
crosswalk and school zone sign, and you hear a clunk from a 
projectile hitting your car as he slides by. He abruptly turns 
directly in front of you and slows to a crawl impeding your progress 
for several blocks before speeding away.

Most of us would consider this to be a classic case of road rage, the 
kind of irresponsible, inconsiderate and dangerous driving behaviour 
that is becoming a scourge worldwide. But researchers think it's 
something else -- a medical condition called intermittent explosive disorder.

A study funded by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health found 
that five to seven per cent of a representative sample of U.S. adults 
had the condition, which would be the equivalent of 16 million 
Americans, more than the number suffering from schizophrenia or 
bipolar disorder.

"People think it's bad behaviour and that you just need an attitude 
adjustment," said Dr. Emil Coccaro, chairman of psychiatry at the 
University of Chicago's medical school, "but what they don't that there's a biology and cognitive science to this."

The disorder is caused by inadequate production of serotonin, the 
brain chemical that affects moods, and can be treated with 
anti-depressants and behaviour therapy.

A Canadian study last year offered another explanation. It found 
frequent road ragers were more likely to take ecstasy than 
considerate drivers and were also likely to have used cocaine, 
cannabis and alcohol. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health 
concluded that drugs and alcohol are the main cause of angry, erratic 
behaviour behind the wheel.

Leon James and Diane Nahl, authors of Road Rage and Aggressive 
Driving: Steering Clear of Highway Warfare, define road rage as 
"Driving under the influence of impaired emotions resulting in 
behaviour that imposes one's preferred level of risk on others."

Whether that impairment is caused by a physiological disorder or drug 
and alcohol use, it can be deadly. Road rage was held responsible in 
the death of a 48-year-old Surrey woman in March when aggressive 
driving led to a series of collisions on Knight Street, injuring 
three other passengers, including an 18-month-old baby.

In April, the driver of a BMW instigated an altercation with a 
pedestrian and a cyclist who intervened found himself facing a 9mm handgun.

Nearly half of men and 44 per cent of women responding to a survey in 
2003 said they were victims of intimidating behaviour while driving 
in the previous year. Only 39 per cent of men and 27 of women 
admitted to committing an act of road rage.

While there are no reliable statistics that correlate road rage with 
traffic fatalities, it is plainly obvious that civility, courtesy, 
common sense and patience will make the driving experience safer and 
more pleasurable for everyone. If people have anger management 
issues, they shouldn't be operating a vehicle.

There may be few incentives to encourage people to drive with 
consideration for others. But we do have the stick -- fines, 
suspensions, impoundment and jail. Road rage should carry serious 
consequences for the perpetrator, not the victim.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman