Driving conflict off our roads

I believe that a bit of conflict on the road is perfectly fine. I mean, surely if someone doesn’t indicate, blasting the horn and flicking the birdie will probably make them think twice before doing that again?

Image courtesy of google

Image courtesy of google

I’d like to think that I’m an excellent driver. No really, I am amazing! You’re thinking ‘of course he’d say that, he’s a man’. But some people really do, (even when they’re not) and I guess they are protective over their driving ability. I’ve been spat at, gestured at and someone even said they’d even see me next Tuesday – (I think that’s obvious enough that I didn’t have to write it!).

According to ingenie.com, their Red Mist road rage survey revealed that 47% of respondents said that BMW drivers incited road rage, whilst Black cars are the most likely, with 24% to provoke road rage. Yes, I had a Black BMW *looks guilty*. And there’s me thinking that was just a jealous stereotype!

image courtesy of google

image courtesy of google

Conflict on our roads can be a result of a stressful day at the office, and it can prove to be a productive learning curve for some troublesome drivers; however there are instances where it is totally unacceptable, where the result of road rage left a father fighting for his life.

According to Fox, A (1973) there are four frames of reference which apply when dealing with conflict. They are primarily geared towards an organisational structure; however, I’m sure these can also be applied to drivers, especially in the context of road rage. Fox’s model suggests that we are all capable of adopting a frame in each situation we encounter. Buchanon & Huczynski (2010) suggest that each approach allows us to determine aspects of the situation such as how we behave and how we expect others to behave.

image courtesy of google

image courtesy of google

I believe that the majority of drivers assume a unitarian approach, in with which drivers perceive conflict as harmful and best avoided. They will assume a co-operative and harmonious nature on the road, towards other drivers and accept social and political frameworks, such as the Highway Code, speed limits and common courtesy. If they do come across conflict, they will seek a rapid resolution and view conflict as abnormal behaviour from deviant individuals.

image courtesy of google

image courtesy of google

I also believe that there are drivers who adopt a pluralist approach to driving. This would best describe the driver of the 4×4 who attacked Paul Currie. These individuals have their own interests at the forefront of their mind, abstaining from the co-operative and harmonious view of the Unitarian approach. The interests of these drivers will more than likely clash, as they maybe feel that their driving style is better, or disagree with other road users, meaning that they view conflict as being inevitable, resulting in road rage.

Obviously the latter approach appears to be conflict inducing, however, I still feel as if conflict should be part of our driving habit, if only for the benefit of making other drivers think before they hit the roads.

Have you ever encountered a pluralist on the road and how did you deal with them? Are there any factors that influence drivers to conduct themselves in a certain manner? Ultimately, do you think we should be driving conflict off the roads?

I’d be interested to hear your views on conflict resolution and your stories of conflict whilst driving.

– JR

4 thoughts on “Driving conflict off our roads

  1. As a mum, I’d never dream of inciting road rage. What kind of messages does that send my kids, so I am appalled and disgusted when I do see men and women become aggressive when their kids are in their cars. Men are the menaces of the road especially white van men!!! However, I’ve had the brunt of some ‘women’ (and i use that term loosely) shouting and swearing at me. I also work in an office which is largely male dominated, and they often include me in their car conversations. I think there’s a time and a place for conflict, but it’s not on our roads due to the high risk and dangers it poses.

    I’m not the best driver, but I always follow the speed limit and i do let people out of roads. I think the whole issue of road rage is down to impatience and a lack of common courtesy. it does not belong on the roads atall and that story about that poor guy who was assaulted for standing up to that road bully, well, that says it all.

    There should be a fine or points system imposed (just like speeding) if you are caught being aggressive on the road. I feel threatened by any sort of confrontation and i hate bullies, why should I have to deal with that on the road?!

    Kim x

  2. I agree with Kim – I’ve lived in several states in the US and I would definitely not engage in any road rage activities. I lived in Houston, Texas for a few years and I experienced many aggressive drivers. That’s not to say all Texan drivers are, but the thought of someone carrying a weapon in their vehicle (whilst I had my kids) was a complete incentive to not rise to the bait. The law enforcement are visible along the highways, but there’s always one douchebag who thinks they ARE the highway patrol. The majority of drivers who get aggressive in my opinion are those who are late or in a rush. We have HOV lanes and as long as there are two or more drivers in a vehicle, you can use them. They’re designed to reduce the build up on the freeway and reduce the amount of vehicles on the roads, and I guess as a result reduce the road rage, as less people will be on the main highway!! I’ve probably gone way off point, but I thought I’d share my stateside experience – T

  3. These days our society is becoming far too comfortable with initiating conflict from afar, from the security of inside a vehicle or behind a computer screen. I believe, as you say, that common courtesy has well and truely died a death and with situations that immedialty create a wall between face to face contact those who choose to deviate into conflicting behaviour jump at the chance. I think it is wrong to assume that everyone falls into this category and yes after a bad day the odd ‘hurry the **** up’ screamed out the window is im sure harmless BUT unfortunately you cannot predict who you are contending with. There is a huge number of young teens in the UK that thrive off of conflict and clearly find it difficult to communicate in a civil manner. I feel it is this proportion of people that show off to their mates in the car and act as though they own the road, those that get in their way will perish. If not punished early on it is these sad individuals that become the foul mouth 40 year olds up to the same tricks. This is an issue that stems far further than merely on the roads and goodness knows what the answer is to deal with this. I would imagine these characters fall into the pluralist category. Unfortunatly I think road rage is inevitable until we start handing out anger management left right and centre road rage will always occur. Thankfully nine times out of ten it comes to nothing but it is those few situations that Paul Currie that screams out for the need to change.

  4. Hi Kimberley, Torrance & newtonsnotions – Thank you all for your input.

    @ Kimberley – You’ve raised the issue of gender in your reply (I hinted at it at the beginning of my post), and although you’ve suggested males are ‘menaces of the road’, you’ve highlighted that from personal experience it can also be females that incite road rage. Do you think then, that Road Rage is a product of our environment, as in a bad day at the office or do you think that the conflict is ingrained in certain types of people? If it’s not gender specific, do you think that it has to do with culture possibly? I agree, that there should be tougher implications imposed on conflict on our roads, just a day ago, an 80 year old man was headbutted in Southampton outside a Tesco supermarket and left with major injuries. There should definitely be a driving ban or points system like you suggested to deter people from being too free-mouthed and free-handed with others.

    @Torrance – Thanks for your stateside knowledge! 🙂 Like Kimberley, you said that you wouldn’t dare participate in any act of road rage due to you kids being in the car – what about alone? Do you notice if there is a gender specific ‘road rager’? You mentioned about in Texas, people can carry weapons – do you think that by somebody having a weapon that encourages them to induce conflict, because they have the ‘back-up’ or security of having a weapon, and if anything were to happen they’d use it?

    @ newtonsnotions – You shared a view with Kimberley that common courtesy has been forgotten, and with that you have mentioned a generational stereotype – of young kids showing off in their cars? Do you therefore feel that conflict could be a cultural factor? Would it be fair to say that one person could adopt both a unitarian AND a pluralist approach given what kind of mood they are in that day?

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