Post-doctoral fellow Christine Wickens and a team of researchers analyzed over 5,600 driver complaints made between 1999 and 2007 on a road rage Web site in an attempt to see if the data found there could provide clues on improving driver safety. The results, recently published in Accident Analysis and Prevention, show that the most common complaint (found in over half the samples) involved drivers weaving between lanes and cutting others off. Speeding, “hostile display” (such as showing the middle finger) and tailgating were the next most common.
What’s the Big Idea?
Despite possible flaws in data entry, the patterns noted in the study mimic those of previous studies, and provide insights that aren’t normally available through more conventional data sources. For example, “[P]olice call centers don’t typically record ‘obscene gestures and unkind language’ since neither are technically illegal…[yet] they’re integral ingredients to road rage.” The range of behaviors cataloged by the researchers could prove useful in educating new drivers about the types of interactions they should be aware of and the best ways to react.