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A Communicative Approach to Road Rage: Accounts of Driving and Retaliation
Unformatted Document Text:  Road Rage 3 results to the United States is problematic. Second, nothing has been studied empirically with regard to actual confrontations between drivers (i.e., road rage episodes). Although some of the overseas studies used confederates to investigate reactions of other drivers to perceived inconvenient or illegitimate road events, these studies mostly measured reaction times in terms of honking the horn or moving around the confederate. The warrant for research, study, and understanding of road rage is clear. As Ferguson (1998) asserted, so much in the phenomenon of road rage needs to be studied and it could keep many social scholars busy for years. Although the number of studies in this area is growing and a few guarded generalizations regarding behavior(s) have been postulated, understanding in this area is far too undeveloped to do much good. Not only do aggressive driving and road rage constitute important social issues, they also represent an area that is rife with human communication implications. The question might arise as to why the phenomenon of road rage merits consideration from researchers who examine communication behavior. In our view, people attempt to use alternative forms of communication on the road as well as in face-to-face interactions. For example, Lawton and Nutter (2002) found that the use of outward expression of anger did not vary between driving and non-driving contexts. A detailed understanding of the symbolic manifestations of aggressive driving has yet to be published, to our knowledge. That is, no study to our knowledge has explored how people attempt to express themselves to other drivers in the event of road rage. Clearly, some behaviors (e.g., obscene gestures) contain obvious symbolic meaning. It remains unclear as to the scope of these behaviors and the extent to which they are used. In addition, from an interpersonal communication perspective, we view road rage as one person’s attempt to confront another individual. That this event occurs on the road and most often between strangers is incidental to the idea that what we examine is fundamentally a dyadic communication episode. More precisely, conflict between two drivers, where a turn-taking sequence in the confrontation usually occurs (i.e., the instigating event, the reaction to the event, the reaction to the reaction, etc) needs to be explored. Accordingly, the purpose of this project is to explore the manifestation of conflict that occurs during road rage episodes. In the review of literature that follows, we first briefly discuss the definitions for aggressive driving

Authors: Canary, Daniel., Mikkelson, Alan., Switzer, Frank. and Bailey, Carrie.
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Road Rage 3
results to the United States is problematic. Second, nothing has been studied empirically with regard to
actual confrontations between drivers (i.e., road rage episodes). Although some of the overseas studies used
confederates to investigate reactions of other drivers to perceived inconvenient or illegitimate road events,
these studies mostly measured reaction times in terms of honking the horn or moving around the
confederate.
The warrant for research, study, and understanding of road rage is clear. As Ferguson (1998)
asserted, so much in the phenomenon of road rage needs to be studied and it could keep many social
scholars busy for years. Although the number of studies in this area is growing and a few guarded
generalizations regarding behavior(s) have been postulated, understanding in this area is far too undeveloped
to do much good. Not only do aggressive driving and road rage constitute important social issues, they also
represent an area that is rife with human communication implications. The question might arise as to why
the phenomenon of road rage merits consideration from researchers who examine communication behavior.
In our view, people attempt to use alternative forms of communication on the road as well as in
face-to-face interactions. For example, Lawton and Nutter (2002) found that the use of outward expression
of anger did not vary between driving and non-driving contexts. A detailed understanding of the symbolic
manifestations of aggressive driving has yet to be published, to our knowledge. That is, no study to our
knowledge has explored how people attempt to express themselves to other drivers in the event of road rage.
Clearly, some behaviors (e.g., obscene gestures) contain obvious symbolic meaning. It remains unclear as to
the scope of these behaviors and the extent to which they are used. In addition, from an interpersonal
communication perspective, we view road rage as one person’s attempt to confront another individual. That
this event occurs on the road and most often between strangers is incidental to the idea that what we
examine is fundamentally a dyadic communication episode. More precisely, conflict between two drivers,
where a turn-taking sequence in the confrontation usually occurs (i.e., the instigating event, the reaction to
the event, the reaction to the reaction, etc) needs to be explored. Accordingly, the purpose of this project is
to explore the manifestation of conflict that occurs during road rage episodes.
In the review of literature that follows, we first briefly discuss the definitions for aggressive driving


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