All the (road) rage

August 1, 1997

Road rage is now so common that it may not be so surprising to find it featuring in a murder case. Researchers at Manchester University have found road rage could be responsible for many car accidents where driver error has been blamed.

Drivers' attitude problems rather than lack of skill are often the chief cause of crashes, they have found. A fictitious road rage attack was used by Tracie Andrews as the basis of her story about the death of her fiance, whom she was found guilty of murdering this week.

Steve Stradling of the university's driver behaviour research unit has been studying links between drivers found guilty of traffic violations and the number of accidents they have been involved in. Violations include driving too close to the car in front, speeding and drink driving.

The study has shown that drivers who behave in this way, rather than those who make driving errors, are most likely to be involved in accidents. Male drivers, young drivers and high mileage drivers are the most frequent culprits. They are also likely to have a low tolerance threshold, Dr Stradling says.

"I suspect that people who instigate incidents of road rage are low in empathy and consistently misinterpret other drivers' actions, believing honest errors to be deliberate slights or insults," he said.

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