With the current state of South African roads and the inherent aggression that South African drivers are famous for, there is no escaping the fact that the traffic here sucks. While itís easy to get irate with inconsiderate drivers, drivers who donít indicate, who speed or who force their way in to gaps that never existed, you would be better off just letting go, taking a deep breath, shrugging your shoulders and relaxing, than bursting into a rage.
While there are no hard and fast statistics that deal with road rage directly, as it is yet to be classified as a crime, anecdotal evidence suggests that the incidence of road rage is on the increase in South Africa. Whatís more is that crimes committed as a result of road rage are becoming increasingly violent.
ďRoad rage is defined as an incident in which an angry or impatient motorist or passenger intentionally injures or kills another motorist passenger or pedestrian, or attempts or threatens to injure another motorist passenger or pedestrian,Ē explains Gary Ronald, Public Affairs Manager, AA. The problem here is that road rage is more often than not a result of external factors and situations rather than those arising on the road; these include stress, depression and pent up aggression. As a result, minor incidents such as being cut off or throwing a zap sign, have the potential to escalate rapidly into a situation that lacks all sense of proportion and can end in violence.
A survey conducted by the AA amongst drivers in the Johannesburg area found the following results:
While these statistics are worrying, there is very little the individual driver can do to curtail bad driving practices on South African roads. The simplest solution to avoid a road rage incident is merely to develop a courteous driving manner, and to control your emotions in the event of a road rage incident. Flying off the handle over a discourteous, inconsiderate driver will not change their actions. Rather it will create an opportunity for the situation to escalate into a situation everyone could do without. The easiest and safest route to take to avoid road rage follows the maxim of; when in doubt, just chill out. Following this simple little rule will ensure that situations cannot escalate, which will result in drivers arriving home in the evening safely and in a much better mood.