good motoring
Dealing with road rage
H. Hishie Singh

STRESS has wormed its way into our vocabulary in the last few years. With children, it starts with their studies, when they are told to get good marks to be successful in life, they are told at a tender age when they should be playing with friends or on the sports field.

With adults, it is due to a sedentary lifestyle, wrong food and a number of other factors. Whatever the reasons, the fact is that we live in a stressful world. The automobile is a major contributing factor to the stress overload. Constant honking, the cell phone ringing at critical moments, pot-holed roads, drivers overtaking from the left and other unpleasant experiences on the road. All these factors send your blood pressure soaring. This will lead to irrational behaviour.

Some headlines in the recent past are horrifying: “Man shoots 14-year-old boy over parking!” “Students thrash teacher over parking !” And, “In road rage, siblings shot 12 times!”

Parking rage is as bad as road rage. It's the automobile that does it.

The first lesson to learn from these episodes. Stay cool, do not get into an argument. Back off. Discretion is the better part of valour. Follow this dictum. It is easier said than done. Research done on road rage proves that it is a psychiatric condition referred to as “intermittent explosive disorder”. It is a mental illness. The same as spouse abuse. These are angry outbursts where the emotional intensity far exceeds the situation in hand. Says Prof. Ronald Kessler of the Howard Medical School, “The acts are out of proportion to the social stressors triggering them”. He says that the outburst are indicators of other psychiatric conditions. Kessler goes onto say, “If identified early in life, and treated, perhaps we can avoid some of these other psychiatric problems that emerge in adulthood”. These outbursts occur in males at age 13 and for females at age 19. Parents are advised to observe their children and pay serious attention to this abnormal behaviour. It is a mental thing and can be treated. According to Emil Coccaro of the University of Chicago, “The disorder involves inadequate production or functioning of serotonin, a mood-altering chemical. Treatment with anti-depressants, including those that target serotonin receptors in the brain is often helpful, along with behaviour therapy akin to anger management”. Just think for a moment.

It was an accident, meaning nothing premeditated. But the occupants that were in the car that was inadvertently hit, got out and pumped 12 bullets into the driver and his companion. Shot them dead! They had left home with gun in hand, looking for a fight.

They were social psychopaths, mentally unstable and in need of psychiatric help. The point to ponder here is that if you are involved in some mishap don't try to be a hero.

The person or persons you confront could be of the same ilk as the shooters who killed two youngsters for no fault of theirs.

It is a macho style statement for youngsters these days to carry iron rods, baseball bats, pick-axe handles and other items to be used as weapons. There are increasing incidents when guns are used.

You, as an ordinary law-abiding citizen have no defence against these hooligans who in addition to being mentally unstable may be fuelled by alcohol or drugs or both. Happy Motoring!