Road Rage, Deplorable Roads and Traffic Stress

Road rage is a collection of aggressive behaviours by the driver of a vehicle, which is beyond the perceived offence committed. These behaviours range from shouting, screaming, yelling, and using objects such as belts, ‘koboko’, which could hurt the victim and/or damage their vehicle. They are behaviours that occur in response to a perceived unfair provocation while driving. These behaviours could be habitual such as reckless driving (tail gaiting, snail/speed driving) or situational such as encountering potholes and detours with no warning, 

The hinterlands, where most activities of Gede Foundation Calabar take place, is miles away from the metropolis and each trip on this route is a story of its own. I have experienced road rage from motorists, “area boys” (group of young men) that extort money from commercial drivers under the disguise of helping to control traffic and even passengers who are also stressed travellers such as myself. 

One of the roads to the hinterlands

One of the roads to the hinterlands

Very often, the road safety enforcement agencies report on accidents due to deplorable roads and careless driving with no recognition given to underlining mental impact of the bad road, long lines of vehicles, traffic jams and extortions on the driver and passengers. There is a need to consider mental health awareness on the impact of stress caused by bad roads, extortions and detours, tailgating another vehicle on drivers especially commercial and long distance drivers.

While anyone can feel rage, some people have been known to get violent while driving. There is a story of a young pregnant woman who got out of her car and shot someone with a stun gun. The amount of anger one is feeling to do such a thing must be intense. A person’s emotions can be triggered by what they think or feel another driver is doing and they may take offence. Could it be that this ignored stressor is actually the main cause of the displaced aggression during driving? According to WebMD, with road rage, you are under the influence of impaired emotions and this can affect your work and relationships as well as your driving. It is therefore an important aspect of mental health that needs addressing. 

Ekaette  Udoekong