Monday, January 1, 0001

South Africa’s culture of road aggression coupled with our high-stress modern lifestyles has led to an increase in road rage. International studies such as conducted by Forbes have shown that men and women react differently in such situations. In fact, women are more likely to curse while mean lean on the hooter obnoxiously when behind a slow driver to make their point.

“In a local survey conducted by the AA, the gender of those who perpetrated aggression towards the respondents was 55% male and 3% female,” says 1st for Women Insurance’s Executive Head, Robyn Farrell adding, “it also showed that between the ages of 20 and 35 years old, men are more likely to lose their cool in response to a challenge or a threat.”

The Forbes survey also found that female motorists more frequently extended their middle finger at the source of their road frustrations than their male counterparts. More than ever before, cases are being documented where both the perpetrator and victim is female.

While there are no hard and fast statistics that deal with road rage directly, as it is yet to be classified as a crime, anecdotal evidence done by the AA suggests South African crimes committed as a result of road rage are becoming increasingly violent. “Stress, depression and pent up aggression are contributing factors and can result in minor incidents, having the potential to escalate rapidly into a disporoprtionate reaction that can end in violence,” says Farrell.

A survey conducted by the AA amongst drivers in the Johannesburg area concluded that 47.7% of respondents reported having children in the car during a road rage incident and 47% of all road rage is generated by young drivers between the ages of 18 and 25. “It’s easy to lose your temper on the road when you’re under pressure or in a rush and someone is behaving rudely on the road,” warns Farrell, “but it’s dangerous to do so.”

Here are some of 1st for Women Insurance’s essential tips for avoiding road rage: ”

  • Get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation found that tiredness is a contributing factor to road rage and makes us more prone to anger and annoyance.
  • Don’t rush.
Do you often whiz through your morning routine chatocially hoping to get to work just in time? If so, then give yourself some extra time to get dressed, prepare those school lunches, get petrol and make your appointment. More time means calmer driving.
  • Your car is not for blowing off steam. Remember that your vehicle is a mode of transportation, not a weapon.
  • Listen to mood music. It makes sense that classical music, relaxing tunes or even comedy will reduce your stress. You can even try an audiobook to tune out the rat race outside your car.
  • Just breathe. Relax that grip on the steering wheel and unclench your teeth. Some deep breathing exercises and even stretching behind the wheel can cool off a hot temper.
  • Remember that it’s not about you. The fact that someone else is driving badly is not a personal attack. Hostlity is toxic for your health so no matter how much someone has angered you, try and let it go.
  • Driving a car makes people feel more protected, allowing them to act in ways they normally wouldn’t. So when another driver swerves into your lane on their cellphone, respond as though you're not in a car.
  • Analyse your own behaviour. Do you speed? How often do you SMS and drive? Do you often swear while driving? If so, you might be the aggressive driver.
  • Practice kindness. Follow the “do unto others” rule.

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