Across West-Central Florida, road rage is leading to dangerous situations with serious consequences:
As the Tampa Bay area continues to get more congested and we rush from one destination to another, it’s common for drivers to get frustrated. But some drivers go too far in expressing that frustration by using obscene gestures, blocking the passing lane, tailgating, laying on the horn, or driving in a menacing way.
In a recent cable-TV appearance, comedian Louis CK jokes that “I am the worst person I can be when I am behind the wheel” and talks about how acting like a jerk when you’re driving is a major issue because “you are driving a weapon amongst weapons.”
Indeed, this is a major problem. A study sponsored by the National Institute of Health found that 5 percent to 7 percent of nearly 10,000 drivers studied exhibited some signs of road-rage behavior. Meanwhile, a survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that about 1 in 7 drivers reported feeling threatened by other drivers at least once a week.
That analysis and other work led to experts identifying the cause of road rage as Intermittent Explosive Disorder. Basically, this involves having outbursts that are far out of proportion compared to what a situation warrants. And in many cases, people get hurt or property is damaged as a result.
As part of Sunstar Paramedics’ goal of raising awareness of safety issues, we’d like to offer some tips for drivers to help you cool down on the road:
Whatever you do, try not to engage the other driver in any way. That may only escalate the situation — and that’s the last thing you want to do.