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I have had a drivers license for over 20 years, and in all that time there has been a noticeable increase in the general aggressive behavior of people on the road. Yes, this is a bit of a subjective view, but I doubt that many people will disagree with me. There are daily reports of people swinging bats, fists, and pulling guns on other road users usually over something as minor as cutting them off in traffic.

Just doing a search on Autoblog will show almost 10,000 posts about it! The most memorable recent ones are the cyclist being deliberately run off the road and the two guys duking it out, baseball bats and all.

Some of the things that I have noticed that are causes for this:
  • Distances. I've noticed that a lot of people these days tend to live much further away from the office because of property prices. It's far cheaper to live further away from business hubs, so it means you have to leave earlier, travel further, and usually end up in the traffic jams.
  • Congestion. This also contributes to crazy levels of stress. There have been reports of hour-long traffic jams all over the world. In our country it's easy to spend over an hour and a half on the morning and afternoon commute for a relatively short distance (less than 30 km). There are few things worse than sitting in traffic, unable to move, realizing that you could be at home relaxing, spending time with your family.
  • Roadworks. Because of the increases in volumes of traffic, the roads all over the world are over-utilized which leads to the need for an increase in maintenance. Companies don't want to pay the overtime to work on weekends and nights, so the general road users have to endure the work being done at the worst times of the day.
  • And, in my humble opinion the biggest problem these days is: Ego. For the last 50 years we have been repeatedly told by parents, teachers, psychologists that YOU are important, that YOU matter, and as long as YOU are successful that's fine. The culture of step on anyone to get where you need to has been entrenched in our makeup. You are driven to success in school, in your work career, in sport. Mediocre is no longer acceptable, everyone has to excel. The trouble is that we bring that attitude to the road. We have to be first in the queue, first to pull off, and how dare someone get ahead of me. I've seen it. People lose their temper over a simple thing like being in the fast lane. "How dare you be ahead of me!?" I'm driving a car that costs more than some people's annual salary.

Cars have become an extension of the self. We feel like we are being insulted when a "cheap" car is in front of us. I've actually observed people saying things like this. There is no patience with them overtaking the really slow-moving vehicle, giving them the gap and letting them move over again.

At the same time, the guy in front of you is thinking "why must I let you get past, just because you have a car that costs three times what mine did?" It's all about ego.


How do we fix this?
  • For a start, we need to realize that, yes buttercup, you are not as special as you think. We all have to use the road.
  • Everyone is frustrated with that broken-down truck, we all have to get past it.
  • It's not a race, there really is no need to get there before me.
  • That 30-km trip, driving at 80 km/h instead of at 100 km/h is going to add a grand total of 4.5 minutes to your trip. Really? You want to cause an accident for four minutes?
  • If you have ever looked at your car's trip computer (if you are lucky to have one), you'll see that the average speed in mild traffic is about 35 km/h (for the Americans, that's about 22 mph)
  • So, honestly, doing more than that speed is actually quite pointless in most situations.

It's about changing your attitude, it's not up to other people to stop you, YOU have to make the change and calm down and realize that it's not worth dying over something so insignificant.

I welcome thoughts and comments below if you disagree or agree.

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