Drivers are unaware of their own levels of aggressiveness. In one study researchers asked ‘what percentage of drivers do you consider aggressive?’ respondents answered 85%. When asked what percentage of their own driving was aggressive, the respondents answered 35%. This 50% awareness gap is the gap between their perceived and actual reality. This is one of the gaps that Driver Assess will enable you to become aware of, pay attention to and change.

Definition of driving aggression

Driving under the influence or control of impaired emotions results in a driving behaviour that imposes one’s own level of risk on others and expecting (sub-consciously) those others to accept the increased risk and to be able to deal with it.

Being overcome or fixated by strong or inappropriate emotions when driving is dangerous. Your judgment and ability to focus on driving becomes impaired as you focus more and more on an emotionally-charged interaction, idea, thought or event.

The actions associated with driving under the influence of impaired emotions are placed in three categories: Impatience and Inattentiveness, The Struggle for Power and Recklessness and Road Rage.

A selection of each includes:

Impatience and Inattentiveness:

  • Driving through a red robot or speeding up to get through a robot on yellow;
  • Changing lanes without signalling or weaving in and out of traffic;
  • Driving 8 – 25 kph above the speed limit;
  • Following too closely to the car in front;
  • Driving erratically – speeding up and slowing down.

The Struggle for Power:

  • Blocking the passing / fast lane, refusing to move over, refusing to let faster traffic past;
  • Closing the gap between vehicles to prevent another vehicle from entering your lane;
  • Tailgating for any reason;
  • Braking suddenly to threaten, teach a lesson or in retaliation;
  • Driving with brights on when not required, refusing to dip the beam, driving with front and / or rear fog lights on when conditions do not warrant them.

Recklessness and Road Rage:

  • Chasing or threatening another driver / vehicle – duelling with your vehicle;
  • Drunk or stoned driving – includes being under the influence of prescription drugs;
  • Brandishing or pointing a fire arm or other weapon;
  • Assaulting some-one;
  • Driving at very high speeds or at speeds incompatible with the road conditions.

We have all been victims of aggressive driving and all have tales to tell. Few of us admit to being the perpetrators of aggressive driving and none of us start a driving war story with ‘I drove aggressively today and …..’

Driving in traffic is a group activity. Drivers in traffic are dependent upon one-another’s co-ordinated actions to enable safe and effective traffic flows. Each one of us is dependent on other driver’s actions for meeting our own driving needs. Not letting other traffic merge with your lane of vehicles prevents the free flow of traffic, increases the risk level in the immediate area and the vehicle / driver which is trying to merge is not simply going to disappear because you won’t let him in.

A safer and more rational approach to driving needs to be found in South Africa. Becoming aware of our own aggressive driving emotions and behaviours is an excellent place to begin. Driver Assess supports you in becoming aware of your high(er) risk emotions and behaviours and in replacing them with emotions and behaviours that serve you and other road users. We can change the South African (or put any other countries name here) road behaviour story by starting with you and me.

Emotions drive people, people drive cars!


Reference and credit:

Aggressive driving is emotionally impaired driving, 2000
Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl, University of Hawaii.
freeart.com (photographs)
123RF Stock Photo (graphic)

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