Thursday, November 11, 2010

Macho Men and Aggressive Driving

My car was pulled off the side of the road in a residential area. It was early morning and traffic was light. A large, loud truck was at the stop sign. I guess he did not like how I was parked. The truck waited a moment then accelerated towards my car and drove as close as possible to my vehicle. I did not know it at the time but the truck drove down the road and parked among a group of vehicles. After a few minutes, I continued down the street. The driver of the truck then pulled out from his parking spot and went speeding down the road. Was he waiting to see my reaction?

Science Daily reported on a study by Julie Langlois, a graduate student at the University of Montreal Department of Psychology, that determined "the more "macho" the man, the more risks he took on the road".

"Our hypothesis was that hyper-masculine drivers, often referred to as macho, were more likely to take risks in order to catch a car," says Langlois. "We didn't tell test subjects to disobey the law, yet they knew others had accomplished the same task in seven minutes."

Results of the car simulator exam highlighted men's slight tendency for risk. Still, it was during interviews that a link between macho men and speed revealed itself. "Previous studies had shown that hyper-masculine men were more aggressive on the road," says Langlois. "But we wanted to take it further."

"Some men develop a passion for driving that can verge on the obsessive," says Langlois. "They consider cars to be an extension of themselves and they become extremely aggressive if they are honked at or cut off."

The NHTSA "defines aggressive driving as occurring when an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property." In a recent four hour drive on the PA Turnpike, I witnessed multiple acts of aggressive driving. It was a busy weekend and people were frequently changing lanes, tailgating, failing to signal and driving at excessive speeds. Groups of cars appeared to be chasing each other as they weaved in and out of traffic. The drivers on this particular day were primarily male.

From Progressive Insurance: Road Rage Tips

Protect yourself.
If you are dealing with an aggressive driver, make sure your doors are locked. If you're stopped in traffic, leave enough room to pull out from behind the car you're following. If an aggressive driver confronts you, dial 911 or go to the nearest police station.

Don't take it personally.
Be polite and courteous, even if the other driver isn't. Avoid any conflict, if possible. If another driver challenges you, take a deep breath and move out of the way! Never underestimate the other driver's capacity for causing mayhem.

Reduce your own stress.

Report aggressive drivers.
Some states have a phone number that you can use to

Be a courteous driver.
You can set the example, which can help make our roads safer.
Control your anger.
Don't take traffic problems personally.
Avoid making eye contact with an aggressive driver.
Don't make obscene gestures.
Don't tailgate.
Use your horn sparingly — even a polite honk can be misinterpreted.
Don't block the passing lane.
Don't block the right turn lane.

What do you think about the study cited in Science Daily?


John W. Zimmer said...

Yeah you have to have common sense when dealing with these types. Even with a accidental cutoff - aggressive driving is the wrong way to handle it.

When I was young - my horrormones were raging and I did some dumb things. Luckily I had some sage figured that told me that even if someone is out of line - you don't know what may have happened in his life so better to give the benefit of the doubt and NOT respond in kind.

As far as the Macho men, have you even seen that Saturday Night Live in the 70's where people almost bump into each other crossing the street and apologize and then get into their car and have a raging fit about who gets to pull out first? :)

Journeyman said...

Road rage and aggressive driving is on the rise. Women are starting to get in the game too, but it's still mainly men.

One technique that helped me calm down while driving is using a mental process. When something happens on the road and I feel the anger start, I ask myself a couple of questions:

Will I still be angry in 5 minutes?
In an hour?
The next day?

If the answer to any of these is no, it's probably not worth it.

This isn't really an answer to your question, but I hope it helps on the topic.

Michele said...

Hi John. Nice hearing from you!

It seems like every time I turn on the news there is a story about a road rage incident. You just don't know what is going on with the other person. In a recent incident, a man shot a woman while driving then went home and killed himself.

Journeyman: Agreed...there are aggressive female drivers. Good tip on the calming technique. I will have to remember to share it the next time I am in the passenger seat and my husband is driving. :)

Anonymous said...

It is a problem that is getting worse!! I am guilty of it but have learned to avoid any issues. It still irritates me to be tailgated and cutoff and I want to retaliate
but have chosen to give the idiots their moment of superiority. I also experience that women are becoming as agreesive as men in their driving habits especially tailgating and changing lanes or drifting as I call it. Too many disturbed people and not enough police to handle the problem.

Benn said...

Courteousness is the key in avoiding and keeping one's self in harm, reckless driving is common to stupid macho men.

Anthony @prokarateshop said...

I have seen two fights after accidents, and it seems to solve NOTHING.. but it can be amusing.. I am from NY so i have had to drive with the yellow cabbies, it still scares me to this day..