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Road rage? 路怒症

中国日报网 2024-03-08 14:39


Reader question:

Please explain “road rage” in this headline: Three die in road rage dispute.

My comments:

Three people died in a traffic incident as a result of a dispute caused by road rage – angry drivers throwing a tantrum.

Yes, angry drivers throwing a tantrum. That’s the definition of “road rage”. i.e., rage on the road.

It is so called because it refers to that particular type of anger many drivers harbor when they hit the road. It’s caused, you know, by the particular circumstances surrounding car driving. Rush hour traffic, for instance, can be understandably frustrating. The road is jammed. Vehicles are hardly moving. If you’re in a hurry, the situation can be especially upsetting. On top of that, neighboring drivers are honking their horns leading to several lowering down their windows and shouting at each other, using all sorts of filthy language.

And it can get worse. Some may leave their cars and fist fight each other in the middle of the street.

And it can get worse than that, too, of course.

The long and short of it is, in the worst cases, road rage leads to death, as is the case described in our headline example.

In our headline example, three people died. We don’t know exactly what happened, but we can easily imagine that road rage may lead to a collision. For example, one car cuts another off in the high way. The driver in the second car, in a sudden fit of rage, overtakes the first car and attempts to cut him off in retaliation.

So, the two drivers begin to cut each other off in this manner, back and forth as if it were a sports competition. Shortly thereafter, however, before they realize, their cars collide and crash.

Result: Deaths and injuries.

We all say that patience is a virtue. It is, particularly on the road. On the road, patience saves lives.

So, be a little extra patient when you hit the road.

All right, let’s read a few recent media examples to see what damage “road rage” can do in various situations:

1. A trip to the pet store was cut short by a violent road rage incident.

In an unusual twist, a suspect is now charged after a London woman heading to the store snapped a photo of what she described as an aggressive cyclist and shared it to a public shaming group online in a bid to identify a man she says assaulted her 63-year-old passenger, leaving him with serious injuries.

Lisa Harrison, 55, said she and her friend Paul Rivington, a co-worker, were going east on Oxford Street on Feb. 2, headed to the Pet Valu store on Hyde Park Road, when a cyclist dressed in black came close to her car on the right and stopped in front of her as she went to turn left into a nearby gas station.

Startled, she wrote in an email, she honked the horn and soon after saw the cyclist “pedalling furiously toward us” from behind, which caused her to stop – “stupidly,” she acknowledged – to find out what was going on.

Her passenger got out of the car, words were exchanged and the next thing she knew, he was bleeding from being punched in the head, she wrote in her email.

Rivington said he told the cyclist what he was doing was unsafe, to which the cyclist replied, “You look like a piece of s—.”

“The next thing I know, I’m literally bleeding all over the place.”

Harrison got back into the vehicle as her bleeding passenger did and drove to the pet store, where she parked and called 911. Before that, she managed to snap a photo of the cyclist.

“He took a swing at my hand, knocked the phone out of my hand and said ‘you’re next,’” she said.

Rivington was taken by ambulance to hospital, where doctors told him he had a broken orbital bone and a dislocated finger.

The cyclist was gone before paramedics arrived, Harrison said.

- Road rage: Cyclist loses it, punches car passenger, threatens driver, The London Free Press, February 16, 2024.

2. A man who caused the deaths of a couple in a fatal case of road rage in 2017 that triggered tougher regulations against dangerous driving had his 18-year prison sentence upheld by the Tokyo High Court on Monday.

The court found Kazuho Ishibashi, 32, guilty of causing the deaths of Yoshihisa Hagiyama, 45, and his wife, Yuka, 39, as well as injuring their two daughters due to his dangerous driving on the Tomei Expressway in Kanagawa Prefecture in 2017.

The court was hearing an appeal filed by Ishibashi over the Yokohama District Court's 2022 ruling that found him guilty.

Presiding Judge Akira Ando ruled that there was a causal relationship between Ishibashi’s driving and the fatal crash that followed, upholding the Yokohama District Court’s findings and 18-year prison term.

While listening to the ruling on Monday, Ishibashi occasionally tilted his head and told the judges to “wait until I’m out (of prison)” before leaving the courtroom. He had pleaded not guilty.

According to the court ruling, Ishibashi had deliberately slowed down his vehicle in front of Hagiyama’s car on the expressway, forcing Hagiyama's wife, who was driving, to stop the car, which was then rear-ended by a truck.

According to prosecutors, Ishibashi committed the act in a fit of road rage after being told off by Hagiyama about the way he parked his car at an expressway rest area just before the incident.

Ishibashi was initially handed an 18-year prison sentence by the Yokohama District Court that convicted him in December 2018. But in December 2019, the Tokyo High Court quashed the lower court ruling over a failure in legal proceedings and sent the case back to the district court for a retrial.

The Yokohama District Court found Ishibashi guilty again in June 2022 and handed down the same sentence. The Tokyo High Court upheld the sentence on Monday.

The 2017 incident put a spotlight on dangerous driving and prompted the government to implement a revision of the traffic law in 2020 that toughened punishments for road rage offenses.

- Tokyo court upholds 18-year prison term for driver over 2017 road rage, JapanTimes.co.jp, February 26, 2024.

3. The hum of engines, the blaring of horns, and the occasional shout are all familiar sounds on today’s roads.

But when tempers flare and aggressive maneuvers turn dangerous, we enter the realm of road rage. This phenomenon is more than just a buzzword; it’s a serious concern that can escalate to life-threatening situations. Understanding road rage, its causes, and how to handle it is crucial for every driver’s safety and well-being.

What is Road Rage?

Road rage is a term used to describe violent or aggressive behavior by a driver of an automobile or other road vehicle. Such behaviors might include rude gestures, verbal insults, deliberately driving in an unsafe or threatening manner, or making threats. Road rage can lead to altercations, assaults, and collisions that result in injuries or even fatalities.

The psychological underpinnings of road rage are complex, often rooted in an individual’s response to perceived threats or frustration. In the heat of the moment, a driver may experience a surge of adrenaline, leading to aggressive actions that they might not consider when calm.

It’s important to distinguish between aggressive driving and road rage. Aggressive driving includes speeding, tailgating, and weaving through traffic, which can be dangerous but doesn’t necessarily involve the intent to harm that characterizes road rage.

Causes of Road Rage

Road rage doesn’t materialize out of thin air; it’s often triggered by a combination of factors. Congested traffic, running late, or even personal stress can turn a minor annoyance into a major confrontation. Environmental stressors such as heat, noise, and a high-traffic environment can also contribute to a driver’s frustration levels.

The Impact of Road Rage

The consequences of road rage are far-reaching. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), aggressive driving plays a role in 56% of fatal crashes over a five-year study period, with many of these likely involving road rage. Furthermore, a report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that an estimated 80% of drivers expressed significant anger, aggression, or road rage behind the wheel at least once in the past year.

The impact extends beyond the statistics. Every incident leaves behind a trail of road rage victims, some of whom suffer long-term physical and emotional scars. The ripple effect can be felt in the form of increased insurance premiums, legal costs, and the immeasurable toll on families and communities.

- A Complete Guide To Understanding And Dealing With Road Rage, HarlemWorldMagazine.com, February 27, 2024.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣  编辑:丹妮)


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