It are many traits and conditions which have

It
is expressed by tailgating, speeding, disregarding road signs, shouting,
showing improper gestures or in other ways threatening other driver’s safety
and well-being (Bushman et al., 2018).
Nevertheless, the central question concerning the topic is what are the causes
of this type of behaviour? In this paper the main factors of aggressive
behaviour in traffic will be discussed, furthermore, it will be examined how certain
behaviour can be recognized, the crucial factors of what influences aggressive
behaviour and its explanation by deindividuation theory.

The
definition of aggressive driving behaviour

                      Aggressive driving behaviour is perceived as a
tremendous traffic safety problem, it can be proclaimed and defined in various
ways. The most common definition of aggressive way of driving is to express
negative emotions and usually is portrayed in two ways (Bushman et al., 2018; Shinar, 1998). The first one being
instrumental, meaning, expressing frustration by using a vehicle (e.g.
tailgating, unnecessarily, abruptly using the brakes, cutting someone off), the
second one – hostile aggression by vocalising one’s frustration (e.g.
screaming, cursing) (Shinar, 1998).
Furthermore, in an inquiry done by Ellison-Potter, Bell and
Deffenbacher (2001) on aggressive driving behaviour it was stated that
people often mix up the definitions of ‘road rage’ and ‘aggressive driving’. In
order to be clear, the distinction must be made. Road rage involves extreme
driving behaviour and in most cases, is aimed at hurting someone or their
property. It is a criminal offence and is unacceptable by society. Incidents
which are coming from road-rage are rare, however, loved and sensationalised by
media. Meanwhile, aggressive driving is not that extreme and experienced by
many in day-to-day life (Goehring, as cited in Ellison-Potter,
Bell, & Deffenbacher, 2001). The focus of this paper is aggressive driving
behaviour: excessive horn honking, disobeying traffic signs, tailgating,
speeding, blocking other drivers, making obscene gestures, shouting and
threatening people’s well-being in general.

Causes
of aggressive behaviour in traffic

                      There are many traits and conditions which have
an effect on aggressive behaviour in traffic. However, studies have shown that
driving behaviour is mostly influenced by personality (Deffenbacher, 2008; Deffenbacher, J., Deffenbacher, D., Lynch, &
Richards, 2003; Ellison-Potter, Bell, &
Deffenbacher, 2001). If a person is generally more tended to react
strongly and express frustration, then one is more inclined to act aggressively
behind the wheel (Deffenbacher, 2008).
The work of Deffenbacher, J., Deffenbacher, D.,
Lynch and Richards (2003) refers to this type of people as high anger
drivers. They tend to get frustrated faster, drive in higher speeds and express
their emotions in more aggressive and constructive ways. High anger drivers
show less patience and greater anger in frequent situations. They are a
complete opposite to low anger drivers, who are in general less violent and
express 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 important
factor, 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 how
a person feels behind the wheel and may create negative emotions. Important
condition, which influences driving behaviour is traffic lights which are
taking too long or surprisingly too little time to turn on. If a driver must
wait for a traffic light to turn green for too long one could get frustrated
and 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 capable
to drive off fast and thus blocking the road, other drivers might award him or
her by honking or screaming (Shinar, 1998). Second important condition is
whether the person drives through urban or rural environment (Deffenbacher,
2008). Studies have shown, that drivers tend to get angrier in the rush-hour
traffic, rather than ordinary one (Deffenbacher, Richards, Filetti, , as cited in Deffenbacher,
2008) and as
previously mentioned, traffic signs highly influence their emotions. That is
why, it would be expected that higher amounts of aggression are expressed in
urban areas. However, statistically cities are more densely populated, and it
only seems that road rage is a higher problem there. In reality, no significant
difference in aggression amongst drivers in any of these places was discovered (Deffenbacher,
2008). Looking back at the researches made, the main causes of aggressive
behaviour in traffic are personality and certain environmental conditions such
as traffic lights and rush-hour traffic.

Aggressive
driving behaviour explained by the deindividuation theory

Another theoretical
explanation for aggressive behaviour in traffic may be derived from
deindividuation theory. The work of Ellison-Potter, Bell, and Deffenbacher (2001) reveals
that while in the car, people may feel a sense of anonymity because it
surrounds them and shields from the eyes of others. In anonymous situations
like these people lose a feeling of respect towards others and are less
influenced by the social norms that causes them to act more extreme in certain
situations (Ellison-Potter, Bell,
& Deffenbacher, 2001; Taylor, O’Neal, Langley, & Butcher, 1991). Therefore, one
believes that he or she cannot be judged, criticized or punished (Zimbardo, as
cited in Ellison-Potter, Bell,
& Deffenbacher, 2001). However, it has been proven that in rural
areas people show less aggression while driving. That is because drivers are at
least familiar with each other and can be easily recognized, that way the
anonymity and aggressive driving rates decrease. Meanwhile, urban areas face
more aggressive drivers only because there is a higher sense of anonymity (Deffenbacher, 2008). Previously mentioned study
conducted by using a simulator has proven that drivers who are in anonymous
situations are tended to drive in higher than average speeds, disregard traffic
lights and get into more traffic accidents. That is why, the same study
suggested to reduce the anonymity amongst drivers by using more warning signs
or billboards which would encourage respectful and well-mannered driving
behaviour (Ellison-Potter, Bell,
& Deffenbacher, 2001).