February 19, 2020
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‘Congestion Is Rage’

A lot of people can display personality changes when they get behind the wheel, traffic psychologist Neelima Chakravarty (Central Road Research Institute) told Outlook in an interview. Excerpts:

‘Congestion Is Rage’

What is road rage?
Broadly, the use of a motor vehicle for self-assertion. Aggressive, thoughtless and inconsiderate driving. Like cutting in, hogging the road, not giving signals, running through red lights, overtaking from the wrong side and similar risk-taking practices. It can also take extreme forms, when the car is used as a weapon.

How does one become a rager?
There are several factors, stress being an important one. Driving becomes its outlet. Another reason is the fast pace of city life. Drivers display what’s called goal-directed behaviour-the need to get to your destination in the shortest possible time. Also, when there is overcrowding, the car becomes your personal space and any violation becomes an affront.

Why is Delhi more prone to road rage?
Motor vehicles have increased but road capacity hasn’t kept up, causing traffic problems. This fuels road rage. Also, it’s the Capital, where the combination of money and political power is at work. People feel they can get away with anything.

How do you check road rage?
Better enforcement to warn the driver against speeding, tailgating, etc. Projecting traffic offences as socially unacceptable behaviour is very important. As a driver, you should always stay calm, even in the face of aggression. If someone else is losing control, avoid eye contact.

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