Dr. Ivanhoe C. Escartin, director of the Department of Health – National Center for Health Promotion who is also a psychiatrist said, "When I think of road rage, I think of impulse control disorders. These are disorders characterized by inability to resist an impulse, drive or temptation to perform a particular act that is obviously harmful to self or others, or both. Before the act, the individual may have the urge or tension and then pleasure, gratification or relief after the act is done."
According to Escartin, road rage captures the intermittent explosive disorder. This manifests as discrete episode of losing control of aggressive impulse, and this can result in serious assault or the destruction of property. The symptoms, which individual may describe as spell or attack, appear within minutes or hours, and regardless of duration, remit spontaneously and quickly. After the episode, the individual usually show genuine regret or self-reproach. Escartin said, "Intermittent explosive disorder is underreported but is more common in men than in women. Men are more likely to be found in correctional institutions and women in psychiatric facilities." He added that review of documents would show that intermittent explosive disorder has been associated with fire setting, substance abuse as well as mood, anxiety and eating disorders.
Road rage is aggravated by several factors like the weather. Driving in hot weather can actually make a person feel more tired and sluggish, lowering our overall mood. Circumstances can also be considered, if a person is in a hurry and pressed for time, he/she tends to drive faster disregarding other motorists just too cope with the deadline. Indiscriminate honking and loud noise, such as deafening music played by motorists can also cause irritation to others and may start an altercation. And emotional problems are also a cause for frustration that can lead to irascibility or outbursts of temper.
Incidents of road rage may involve intentionally striking another person, vehicle or object with the opponent’s own vehicle or firing a weapon from it. Some other violent acts include deliberately hitting the person with his fists, banging the person’s vehicle, knocking vehemently on the windows, cursing and yelling insults.
"It is better to leave all worries behind while driving and concentrate on the road. It is best to practice patience and road courtesy to avoid getting into a road altercation," Escartin advised.
The Department of Health recommends some useful tips on how to avoid road violence while driving. These are:
• Keep your mind on the road. Concentrate on driving and forget your problems for the time being.
• Plan your trip.
• Play music to lessen the stress.
• Think positive.
• Always keep the door of your vehicle locked while driving and stay inside your vehicle if there is a commotion.
• If you are a victim of road violence, get the registration/plate number of the other vehicle. If the driver attempts to follow you, do not go home, instead proceed to the nearest police station and report the incident.
• Avoid the indiscriminate use of horn, flashing of light or any action that may worsen the situation.
• Do not make eye-to-eye contact (eye ball)with the angry driver.
• Be courteous and exercise patience especially when being provoked.
(This article is written by Glen S. Ramos for the Department of Health’s HEALTHbeat magazine, November-December 2012.)