South African roads are no stranger to fatal incidents of road rage. Cases of fatal shootings and beatings are not uncommon as a direct result of road rage. In research conducted by the Automobile Association of South Africa with a cross section of drivers from Johannesburg, responses described more cases of aggressive road use than definitive road rage, but is this not the very trigger that leads to the greater problem?
“South Africans are known to be excessively aggressive on the roads and this mindset needs to change if we are to stop the culture of road rage in its tracks,” says the AA. Causes of road rage include a lack of public transport in South Africa as well as poor road conditions in many areas. It may also be a trigger reaction to excessive stress or pent up anger.
In a society desensitised by violence, aggressive behaviour is becoming more common on South African roads – motorists pull dangerously in front of others, follow too closely, shout obscenities, and make rude gestures.
Urgent action needs to be taken. Educating our children in proper road use, fostering a culture of road tolerance, and strengthening the perception that law enforcers will identify and prosecute offenders with vigour, will have a positive impact on our road safety record.
Voluntary compliance with traffic laws and conditions should be the chief goal of any anti-aggressive driver campaign. Individual drivers need to be aware of their own driving practices and to keep their emotions in check when venturing onto the road.
This could be encouraged through extensively focused media, educational and law enforcement campaigns aimed at changing the mind-set of drivers. The reintroduction of a road user or driver education syllabus in the school system where tolerance, courtesy and patience are taught to our young drivers would also go a long way to decreasing accidents on our roads, as would enforcement of traffic rules relating to aggressive and dangerous driving.
“It is the culture of aggression and violence that needs to be dealt with to create calmer citizens and calmer drivers,” concludes the AA.
Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1126