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A Communicative Approach to Road Rage: Accounts of Driving and Retaliation
Unformatted Document Text:  Road Rage 4 and road rage. Second, a synopsis of causes and factors contributing to aggressive driving and road rage phenomena are presented. Finally, we will address the unique relationship between car and driver that some scholars have advanced. Assessing the Phenomenon of Road Rage Definitions Two problems emerge whenever definitions of aggressive driving and road rage are discussed. First, almost any definition or description offered will be imprecise and misleading in some way (Lupton, 1999). Many different behaviors typify the problem such that it is difficult to be precise. Concerning “road rage,” Overberg (1999) wrote that there is “no real definition” (p. 28). Second, some people see “aggressive driving” as different than “road rage,” while others use the two terms synonymously (Shinar, 1998, p. 138). Generally, aggressive driving is linked to behaviors manifested by one driver, such as tailgating, running red lights, weaving and cutting in and out of traffic, speeding, and chronic overtaking (also known as passing) (Parker et al., 1998), whereas road rage indicates an exchange of behaviors between one driver and another or others (e.g., Harding et al., 1998, p. 221). The NHTSA (2002) defines aggressive driving as “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner which endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.” This definition does not include criminal behavior, but rather focuses on traffic violations and discourtesy. In contrast to aggressive driving, the NHTSA defines road rage as “an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of one motor vehicle on the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or vehicles precipitated by an incident which occurred on the roadway” (Shinar, 1998, p. 138). Although both of these definitions are helpful and appear to be precise, the road rage definition does not include assaults on pedestrians, bicyclers, and other people not in vehicles. Some road rage incidents involve people outside cars. In this case, Shinar’s (1998) definition of road rage is more complete: “Hostile behaviors that are purposefully directed at other road users” (p. 139). Finally, some definitions include the notion that road rage refers to a type of vigilantism, where drivers attempt to defend laws that govern safe driving. Indeed, Dukes, Clayton, Jenkins, Miller, and Rogers (2001) found that high levels of self-reported driver retaliation

Authors: Canary, Daniel., Mikkelson, Alan., Switzer, Frank. and Bailey, Carrie.
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Road Rage 4
and road rage. Second, a synopsis of causes and factors contributing to aggressive driving and road rage
phenomena are presented. Finally, we will address the unique relationship between car and driver that some
scholars have advanced.
Assessing the Phenomenon of Road Rage
Definitions
Two problems emerge whenever definitions of aggressive driving and road rage are discussed.
First, almost any definition or description offered will be imprecise and misleading in some way (Lupton,
1999). Many different behaviors typify the problem such that it is difficult to be precise. Concerning “road
rage,” Overberg (1999) wrote that there is “no real definition” (p. 28). Second, some people see “aggressive
driving” as different than “road rage,” while others use the two terms synonymously (Shinar, 1998, p. 138).
Generally, aggressive driving is linked to behaviors manifested by one driver, such as tailgating, running red
lights, weaving and cutting in and out of traffic, speeding, and chronic overtaking (also known as passing)
(Parker et al., 1998), whereas road rage indicates an exchange of behaviors between one driver and another
or others (e.g., Harding et al., 1998, p. 221).
The NHTSA (2002) defines aggressive driving as “the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner
which endangers or is likely to endanger persons or property.” This definition does not include criminal
behavior, but rather focuses on traffic violations and discourtesy. In contrast to aggressive driving, the
NHTSA defines road rage as “an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or
passenger(s) of one motor vehicle on the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle or vehicles
precipitated by an incident which occurred on the roadway” (Shinar, 1998, p. 138). Although both of these
definitions are helpful and appear to be precise, the road rage definition does not include assaults on
pedestrians, bicyclers, and other people not in vehicles. Some road rage incidents involve people outside
cars. In this case, Shinar’s (1998) definition of road rage is more complete: “Hostile behaviors that are
purposefully directed at other road users” (p. 139). Finally, some definitions include the notion that road
rage refers to a type of vigilantism, where drivers attempt to defend laws that govern safe driving. Indeed,
Dukes, Clayton, Jenkins, Miller, and Rogers (2001) found that high levels of self-reported driver retaliation


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