Why you can forgive bad drivers (to some extent)

Posted on 20 February 2012 by Tony Santos

Road rage is an overpowering phenomenon – it sneaks up on you quickly and takes over, and it can find its way into the otherwise calmest of people. There’s something about bad drivers impairing our journey with their slow driving and misleading indicators that just makes us see red.

 In an attempt to gently lessen the wrath that is so common on our roads, here are some scientific reasons behind why bad drivers are…well, bad. Knowledge is power, and knowing why some people drive as they do, we can work together to keep our heads from exploding over steering wheels across the UK.

The majority of drivers will be aware of the middle-of-the-road driver, and that some of the culprits are older in age. Scientists have discovered that older drivers have a ‘built-in safety mechanism’.

After a series of assessments involving driving along virtual roads, results concluded that some elderly drivers drove consciously slower and more to the middle of the road to make up for their declining driving skills. This compensation-motivated behaviour is not restricted to driving only, but in other aspects of life for the elderly, too. Of course, this can be annoying for the driver behind who likes to drive over 20 miles per hour, but at least know you know that the right intentions are behind it.

A less obvious culprit of bad driving lies with those who play video games on a regular basis. A recent study found that those who get behind the wheel after playing a video game are more likely to display signs of road rage, go through red lights and have to claim on their car insurance.

One slightly more surprising reason behind bad driving is those who go out of their way to make themselves especially road-safe. There is research behind the fact that those who feel that they’re in a very secure car can sometimes then go out of their way to increase their risk. Scientists have explained that we aim to maintain our risk at a certain level, and when we feel really safe this can lead to unsafe driving, as the driver will feel that with a really safe car, they’re able to drive a little erratically to compensate for it.

So in the case of any car coming out of an MOT with flying colours, boasting in-car technology and side-impact airbags – you know the possible reason behind the driver’s erratic driving. Apparently there really is such a thing as being too safe.

There are many reasons behind bad drivers – but the minute someone starts slowing down your journey, all reason goes out the window and the blood-boiling road-rage makes its presence. With the knowledge that there are reasons to excuse some bad drivers, this may keep a hold on some of your road rage, but the fact is that a few people are just inherently bad drivers, and the difficulty is establishing whether a bad driver has an excuse, before getting your head stuck in a closing window from swearing too much to concentrate.

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