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The fast and the furious

Road rage: do we apply double standards? (Photo: Minerva Studio / iStock)

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Angelo Rychel
Angelo Rychel
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Road rage sadly is a recurring phenomenon on our streets. Observing other drivers’ bad habits makes people angry. But now a survey reveals: many motorists apply double-standards.

You know those folks that speed on the highway and start tailgating you. How do you tend to react in such situations? Do you quietly change to the slower lane immediately - humbly accepting the fact that some people always seem to be in a hurry? Or do you rather start cursing and honking at this irresponsible racer: "Is this guy trying to get into my boot or what? What is this - 'let-your-child-drive day'?"

Chances are that you do the latter. Nine out of ten British drivers get very angry when they observe other drivers' bad habits, a recent survey by Continental showed.

Some people just drive you crazy. But the whole truth is: it is likely that you drive other people crazy too. The study also revealed that more than seven in ten Brits admit that their own poor driving adds to road rage. So do most of us apply double-standards while being on the road?

The smartphone as a rage trigger

Let's take a look at what generates the fury on our streets. A survey by online travel company Expedia revealed that 26 percent of Americans find people texting behind the wheel to be the biggest nuisance. "The Tailgater" ranked second with 13 percent, followed by "The Left Lane Hog" (12 percent), "The Crawler" (10 percent) and "The Multitasker" (7 percent). In the very same survey, 62 percent of respondents admitted to speeding and 26 percent said they follow other cars too closely. A quarter of Americans "regularly or occasionally" talk on their mobile phone while driving.

So you could argue that many people indeed apply double-standards. Or as Mark Griffiths, spokesman for Continental, puts it: "Disapproving of the faults of others whilst ignoring your own failings is a clear concern."

One thing these survey results do tell us is that drivers evidently frequently want to be doing other things than driving while travelling from A to B! When cars reach high or full levels of automation, drivers will be able to do things like attend to their smartphone or have a phone call because the system will take over the driving task.

Texting while driving: gets under peoples'skin (Photo: sshepard / iStock)

Up until that point however, there is the potential for road rage and this can have serious consequences, as it is another source of distraction. When drivers are distracted they make mistakes. Human errors are the greatest risk factor on roads worldwide. With 1.24 million road deaths each year, the automotive industry has a clear goal in mind: complementing the skills of human drivers by gradually increasing features of automated driving.

As Mark Griffiths adds: "We and other automotive businesses have engineers delivering new technologies to improve road safety. It is vital we make safety our primary consideration for the duration of every journey."

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems ("ADAS") help achieve this goal by, for instance, maintaining a safe distance to the car in front of you or protecting you from departing the road. Once cars are fully automated, it will not matter anymore whether people are exhausted or get distracted by their smartphone.

Keeping the faith in human drivers

Hopefully this will have a soothing effect on vehicle users' tempers. At present, some drivers do not always show their best behavior. According to the Expedia survey, 26 percent of Americans have yelled or used profanity at another driver. 13 percent have felt physically threatened by another driver. And 4 percent report even having left their car to pick a quarrel with another motorist.

The good news is, however, that does not mean that our roads are actually a combat zone. 40 percent of Americans state that they have stopped at the roadside to help another driver in distress. After all, driving a car can also bring out the best in people.

What is your pet peeve when it comes to other drivers' bad habits?

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Angelo Rychel
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