Road rage: Men hoot - women swear

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IOL mot pic mar11 Road Rage . Forbes survey found women drivers more frequently extended their middle finger at the source of their road frustrations than their male counterparts.

South Africa's culture of aggressive driving, coupled with our high-stress modern lifestyle, has led to an increase in road rage - but international studies such as that carried out by Forbes have shown that men and women react differently in such situations.

Women, it would appear, are more likely to curse, while men lean on the hooter to make their point when behind a slow driver.

1st for Women Insurance boss lady Robyn Farrell said: "In a local survey conducted by the AA, the gender of those who behaved aggressively on the roads towards the respondents was given as 55 percent male and three percent female - the rest of the respondents couldn't say whether the perpetrators were male or female.

"It also showed that men between the ages of 20 and 35 years old are more likely to lose their cool in response to a challenge or a threat."

FLIPPING THE BIRD

The Forbes survey also found that women drivers more frequently extended their middle finger at the source of their road frustrations than their male counterparts. More than ever before, cases are being documented where both the perpetrator and victim are female.

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 collated by the AA suggests South African crimes committed as a result of road rage are becoming increasingly violent.

Farrell commented: "Stress, depression and pent up aggression are contributing factors and can result in minor incidents escalating rapidly into a disproportionate reaction that can end in violence."

YOUNG DRIVERS

A survey conducted by the AA amongst drivers in the Johannesburg area revealed that 47.7 percent of respondents admitted having children in the car during a road rage incident and 47 percent of all road rage was generated by young drivers between the ages of 18 and 25.

Farrell warned: "It's easy to lose your temper on the road when you're under pressure or in a rush and someone is behaving badly - but it's very dangerous."

ROBYN FARRELL’S TIPS FOR AVOIDING ROAD RAGE:

Get enough sleep. The National Sleep Foundation says tiredness is a contributory factor to road rage and makes us more prone to anger and annoyance.

Don't rush. Do you often whiz through your morning routine chaotically, hoping to get to work just in time? If so, then give yourself some extra time to get dressed, prepare those school lunches, get petrol and make your appointment. More time means calmer driving.

Your car is not for blowing off steam. Remember that your vehicle is a mode of transportation, not a weapon.

Listen to mood music. It makes sense that classical music, relaxing tunes or even comedy will reduce your stress. You can even try an audiobook to tune out the rat race outside your car.

Just breathe. Relax that grip on the steering wheel and unclench your teeth. Some deep breathing exercises and even stretching behind the wheel can cool off a hot temper.

Remember that it's not about you. The fact that someone else is driving badly is not a personal attack. Hostility is toxic for your health so no matter how much someone has angered you, try and let it go.

Driving a car makes people feel more protected, allowing them to act in ways they normally wouldn't. So when another driver swerves into your lane while talking on their cellphone, respond as though you're not in a car.

Analyse your own behaviour. Do you speed? How often do you text and drive? Do you often swear while driving? If so, you might be the aggressive driver.

Practice kindness. Follow the "do unto others" rule.



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