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Macho Men and Aggressive Driving

Posted Nov 11 2010 3:00am

My car was pulled off the side of the road in a residential area. It was early morning and traffic was light. A large, loud truck was at the stop sign. I guess he did not like how I was parked. The truck waited a moment then accelerated towards my car and drove as close as possible to my vehicle. I did not know it at the time but the truck drove down the road and parked among a group of vehicles. After a few minutes, I continued down the street. The driver of the truck then pulled out from his parking spot and went speeding down the road. Was he waiting to see my reaction?

Science Daily reported on a study by Julie Langlois, a graduate student at the University of Montreal Department of Psychology, that determined "the more "macho" the man, the more risks he took on the road".

"Our hypothesis was that hyper-masculine drivers, often referred to as macho, were more likely to take risks in order to catch a car," says Langlois. "We didn't tell test subjects to disobey the law, yet they knew others had accomplished the same task in seven minutes."

Results of the car simulator exam highlighted men's slight tendency for risk. Still, it was during interviews that a link between macho men and speed revealed itself. "Previous studies had shown that hyper-masculine men were more aggressive on the road," says Langlois. "But we wanted to take it further."

"Some men develop a passion for driving that can verge on the obsessive," says Langlois. "They consider cars to be an extension of themselves and they become extremely aggressive if they are honked at or cut off."

The NHTSA "defines aggressive driving as occurring when an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property." In a recent four hour drive on the PA Turnpike, I witnessed multiple acts of aggressive driving. It was a busy weekend and people were frequently changing lanes, tailgating, failing to signal and driving at excessive speeds. Groups of cars appeared to be chasing each other as they weaved in and out of traffic. The drivers on this particular day were primarily male.

From Progressive Insurance: Road Rage Tips

Protect yourself.
If you are dealing with an aggressive driver, make sure your doors are locked. If you're stopped in traffic, leave enough room to pull out from behind the car you're following. If an aggressive driver confronts you, dial 911 or go to the nearest police station.

Don't take it personally.
Be polite and courteous, even if the other driver isn't. Avoid any conflict, if possible. If another driver challenges you, take a deep breath and move out of the way! Never underestimate the other driver's capacity for causing mayhem.

Reduce your own stress.

Report aggressive drivers.
Some states have a phone number that you can use to

Be a courteous driver.
You can set the example, which can help make our roads safer.
Control your anger.
Don't take traffic problems personally.
Avoid making eye contact with an aggressive driver.
Don't make obscene gestures.
Don't tailgate.
Use your horn sparingly — even a polite honk can be misinterpreted.
Don't block the passing lane.
Don't block the right turn lane.

What do you think about the study cited in Science Daily?
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