How can we cope with road rage?

Published date07 January 2023
Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
In Israel during the past year, police report, road rage incidents have increased at an alarmingly high rate to almost 1,400 cases, compared to just over 1,100 in 2020. If we look farther back in history, Israel has seen a 50% increase in those incidents from five years ago

I recall treating H, a 70-year-old man who was driving slowly down a local street. The driver in the car behind him kept flashing his bright lights and beeping his horn. When H stopped at a stop sign, the impatient driver behind him got out of his car and started screaming at H and took his fist and banged it against H's car. When H protested, the perpetrator's anger escalated, and he put his hands through the car window and began to shake H and curse at him. Then the perpetrator jumped back into his vehicle and took off.

Throughout the next few weeks, H, a victim of road rage, could not sleep and was not able to get back on the road and drive again. It was clear that H was suffering from a trauma with all of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Since the 1990s, when social scientists began studying the road rage phenomenon, they have been hard-pressed to come up with a reliable theory that explains why some people drive like maniacs and others do not.

One school of thought, presented by mental health professionals, explains road rage as a subtype of a psychological disorder, labeled intermittent explosive disorder (IED).

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, categorizes IED as a failure to control aggressive impulses, as manifested by the following pattern: unpremeditated temper tantrums, including verbal aggression, sometimes damage or destruction of property and/or physical assault involving physical injury to animals or people.

It has been documented that while anyone can be a perpetrator of road rage, it is most common among younger male drivers. There are certainly many drivers from all age groups that are angry and take their anger out on the road while behind the wheel.

Sociologists add that life in Israel is already stressful enough, with existential military threats and acts of terrorism, something Israelis are all too aware of but need to contain and keep under psychological wraps.

To add to this, following COVID-19 and its resultant economic and family pressures, Israelis have been left with more tension and anger and less patience. When stress factors play a part...

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