Of course, it’s July and it’s hot, which some people might find makes them a bit angrier, but if you really want to pinpoint an aggressive driver, you might watch out for bumper stickers:
[A] study published in the June issue of the Journal of Applied Social Psychology suggests that drivers with bumper stickers, window decals and personalized license plates are more likely to succumb to road rage.
Paul Bell, the Colorado State University psychology professor who co-authored the study, said it was based on the theory that there are three types of territory: primary, secondary and public. When an area is private, the person will go to lengths to protect it and may become aggressive, according to the theory.
The more personal a driver makes his or her car, the more likely that driver will feel the need to defend it when someone gets in the way, even though the road is a public area, Bell said.
“They take it as an offense against their private territory,” he said. “They get confused about the social norms about defending a primary versus a public territory.”
It does not seem to matter which type of personalization is used, Bell said.
I have no stickers, not even AAA Plus, and I’m not particularly aggressive on the road, but the more I think about this premise, the more I think it’s a load of dingo’s kidneys.
Speaking of AAA, Chuck Mai of the Oklahoma branch has his doubts as well:
Mai said he thinks people are willing to be more aggressive in their vehicles than in public because vehicles more or less hide the aggressor.
“The problem with the motor vehicle is it offers a certain amount of anonymity,” he said. “Remember, driving is not a contest.” He said one of the reasons he thinks drivers have become more aggressive is because most people are in a hurry while they are driving.
I will state that one almost-infallible way to irk me while I’m on the road is to try to slow me down. Austin, Texas is just jam-packed with road warts aimed at “traffic calming.” Still, my primary concern at those moments is less “I oughta punch out the guy who approved this crap” and more “To whom do I address my lawsuit when my suspension parts go?”
Most frightening: this was the lead story in the Oklahoman this morning, proving that there really is such a thing as a slow news day.