Itis expressed by tailgating, speeding, disregarding road signs, shouting,showing improper gestures or in other ways threatening other driver’s safetyand well-being (Bushman et al., 2018).
Nevertheless, the central question concerning the topic is what are the causesof this type of behaviour? In this paper the main factors of aggressivebehaviour in traffic will be discussed, furthermore, it will be examined how certainbehaviour can be recognized, the crucial factors of what influences aggressivebehaviour and its explanation by deindividuation theory.Thedefinition of aggressive driving behaviour Aggressive driving behaviour is perceived as atremendous traffic safety problem, it can be proclaimed and defined in variousways. The most common definition of aggressive way of driving is to expressnegative emotions and usually is portrayed in two ways (Bushman et al., 2018; Shinar, 1998). The first one beinginstrumental, meaning, expressing frustration by using a vehicle (e.g.
tailgating, unnecessarily, abruptly using the brakes, cutting someone off), thesecond one – hostile aggression by vocalising one’s frustration (e.g.screaming, cursing) (Shinar, 1998).Furthermore, in an inquiry done by Ellison-Potter, Bell andDeffenbacher (2001) on aggressive driving behaviour it was stated thatpeople often mix up the definitions of ‘road rage’ and ‘aggressive driving’. Inorder to be clear, the distinction must be made. Road rage involves extremedriving behaviour and in most cases, is aimed at hurting someone or theirproperty.
It is a criminal offence and is unacceptable by society. Incidentswhich are coming from road-rage are rare, however, loved and sensationalised bymedia. Meanwhile, aggressive driving is not that extreme and experienced bymany in day-to-day life (Goehring, as cited in Ellison-Potter,Bell, & Deffenbacher, 2001).
The focus of this paper is aggressive drivingbehaviour: excessive horn honking, disobeying traffic signs, tailgating,speeding, blocking other drivers, making obscene gestures, shouting andthreatening people’s well-being in general.Causesof aggressive behaviour in traffic There are many traits and conditions which havean effect on aggressive behaviour in traffic. However, studies have shown thatdriving behaviour is mostly influenced by personality (Deffenbacher, 2008; Deffenbacher, J., Deffenbacher, D., Lynch, , 2003; Ellison-Potter, Bell, , 2001). If a person is generally more tended to reactstrongly and express frustration, then one is more inclined to act aggressivelybehind the wheel (Deffenbacher, 2008).The work of Deffenbacher, J.
, Deffenbacher, D.,Lynch and Richards (2003) refers to this type of people as high angerdrivers. They tend to get frustrated faster, drive in higher speeds and expresstheir emotions in more aggressive and constructive ways. High anger driversshow less patience and greater anger in frequent situations.
They are acomplete opposite to low anger drivers, who are in general less violent andexpress their emotions in more hostile and less adaptive ways (Deffenbacher et al., 2003). The work of Ellison-Potter, Bell and Deffenbacher(2001) has expressed a similar view stating that personality is an importantfactor, while pointing out that driving a vehicle is an extreme task in itself.Another important factor according to studies conducted by Deffenbacher (2008)and Shinar (1998) is environmental conditions.
They influence howa person feels behind the wheel and may create negative emotions. Importantcondition, which influences driving behaviour is traffic lights which aretaking too long or surprisingly too little time to turn on. If a driver mustwait for a traffic light to turn green for too long one could get frustratedand maybe even, try to pass through a red light possibly creating an accident.However, if the green light shows up very early and the driver is not capableto drive off fast and thus blocking the road, other drivers might award him orher by honking or screaming (Shinar, 1998). Second important condition iswhether the person drives through urban or rural environment (Deffenbacher,2008).
Studies have shown, that drivers tend to get angrier in the rush-hourtraffic, rather than ordinary one (Deffenbacher, Richards, Filetti, , as cited in Deffenbacher,2008) and aspreviously mentioned, traffic signs highly influence their emotions. That iswhy, it would be expected that higher amounts of aggression are expressed inurban areas. However, statistically cities are more densely populated, and itonly seems that road rage is a higher problem there. In reality, no significantdifference in aggression amongst drivers in any of these places was discovered (Deffenbacher,2008).
Looking back at the researches made, the main causes of aggressivebehaviour in traffic are personality and certain environmental conditions suchas traffic lights and rush-hour traffic.Aggressivedriving behaviour explained by the deindividuation theoryAnother theoreticalexplanation for aggressive behaviour in traffic may be derived fromdeindividuation theory. The work of Ellison-Potter, Bell, and Deffenbacher (2001) revealsthat while in the car, people may feel a sense of anonymity because itsurrounds them and shields from the eyes of others.
In anonymous situationslike these people lose a feeling of respect towards others and are lessinfluenced by the social norms that causes them to act more extreme in certainsituations (Ellison-Potter, Bell,& Deffenbacher, 2001; Taylor, O’Neal, Langley, & Butcher, 1991). Therefore, onebelieves that he or she cannot be judged, criticized or punished (Zimbardo, ascited in Ellison-Potter, Bell,& Deffenbacher, 2001). However, it has been proven that in ruralareas people show less aggression while driving. That is because drivers are atleast familiar with each other and can be easily recognized, that way theanonymity and aggressive driving rates decrease. Meanwhile, urban areas facemore aggressive drivers only because there is a higher sense of anonymity (Deffenbacher, 2008). Previously mentioned studyconducted by using a simulator has proven that drivers who are in anonymoussituations are tended to drive in higher than average speeds, disregard trafficlights and get into more traffic accidents.
That is why, the same studysuggested to reduce the anonymity amongst drivers by using more warning signsor billboards which would encourage respectful and well-mannered drivingbehaviour (Ellison-Potter, Bell,& Deffenbacher, 2001).