Experts say ignorance contributes to road rage
Good driving is difficult when rude is the rule
August 26, 1997
Web posted at: 10:24 p.m. EDT (0224 GMT)
From Correspondent Kathleen Koch
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The term "road rage" is new to the
American lexicon and bespeaks an explosive, behind-the-wheel
ugliness that sometimes ends in tragedy.
Experts say there are a number of reasons for it. Crowded
highways cause tailgating and near-collisions, they say.
Another reason is the great urgency Americans have to reach
their destination fast.
But a third, they say, is a combination of ignorance and bad
"When we get behind a car, some demon takes over and we
become discourteous, illegal drivers that cause a lot of
problems," says Terry Gainer, director of the Illinois State
Safe-driving campaign starting
A consumer coalition launching a nationwide safe-driving
campaign believes that the majority of drivers, driven by a
variety of pressures, let courtesy slide.
"First, driving has increased more rapidly than the road
capacity," says Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the
Consumer Federation of America. "Second, people seem to be
under more pressure, under more stress."
But many who are rude on the road simply ignore traffic
rules, or have forgotten them, or never learned them at all.
Times have changed since the 1970s, when 90 percent of people
took drivers' education courses.
"Today, our estimate is that that's about 35 percent of the
people," says Allen Robinson of the American Driver and
Traffic Safety Association. "If people are not aware of what
they should do, how do we blame them for what they don't do
Refresher courses for all adults?
Driving instructors say it's hard to preach proper driving
when so few practice it.
"They'll be cutting our drivers off, and tailgating
frequently," says Bob Weinberg, an instructor for Easy Method
Driving School. "It's hard for us as instructors to make the
point that this is not the way to drive. Just because other
people are driving this way doesn't make it OK."
In a survey of more than 1,000 adults, the consumer coalition
found that 64 percent believed people are driving much less
courteously and safely than five years ago.
The solutions they offered include more driver education,
warnings or tickets from law enforcement officers and
refresher driving courses for all adults similar to those
required in some states for senior citizens.
No one can say just how much rude driving costs in terms of
accidents and deaths, but some worry that it is the beginning
of a vicious cycle of truly aggressive driving that can turn
roadways into battle zones.