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Teenagers with road rage

Road rage was around before motor cars, horse riders in olden times would fight for space on crowded footpaths and riding crops and blows were exchanged. People have lost their temper with strangers for no apparent reason for centuries; what makes road rage different is that it occurs in a closed environment, inside a very powerful machine that can do a lot of damage.

Road violence, or road rage as it is commonly called, is defined as deliberately dangerous and/or violent behavior under the influence of heightened emotion, involving an automobile in use. There are three main types of road rage; one is a response to the environment of driving, such as traffic jams, poor weather, road works; the second is as retaliation to another road user’s behavior, e.g. being overtaken on the inside by another driver; the third trigger for road rage is the need to protect oneself and car from another road users actions.

Teenagers have heightened emotions at the best of times, and often find driving a car an exhilarating experience, so adrenaline is pumping before the road rage is triggered. A hot sunny day, a traffic jam and then somebody trying to pull into their lane can be enough to trigger an angry and sometimes violent response from a frustrated and impatient teenage driver. Mild cases of road rage may involve rude gestures, much honking of the horn and some expletives out of the window.

Aggressive driving includes tailgating another driver, undertaking a slow driver and honking at them, then cutting them up or deliberately forcing them to brake suddenly by slowing down abruptly in front of them. The really serious cases of road rage follow when one driver reacts to another’s road rage by getting into a rage themselves. You can help your teenager avoid developing road rage by being a good example yourself, not screaming abuse at a slow or bad driver, staying calm in the car and modeling your good coping mechanisms.

Teenagers are often in a rush and their reckless driving can trigger road rage in others, and to avoid losing face in front of their friends they may retaliate. Extreme cases of road rage have resulted in vehicular homicide; even relatively mild cases can result in car damage or, worse, a trip to accident and emergency with broken bones. The next time you are delayed by a road accident and the delay causes frustration, remember, the person in the accident would much rather be stuck in a traffic jam than injured, or dead. If your teenager is out of control when driving, take the car keys away from them and book them in for therapy; nobody should have that level of rage in them.

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