Rude and inconsiderate motorists are more likely than dangerous driving to anger other road users, new research has found.
A study by Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland (CARRS-Q) concentrated on a driver’s thought process before and during an episode of frustration caused by another driver.
A group of 209 Queensland drivers were monitored for one week, with the findings presented at an international psychology conference in Paris.
"As part of the study, drivers were asked to record the negative events they experienced while driving, what they thought about other drivers and how that made them feel," CARRS-Q researcher Lauren Shaw said.
"The results surprisingly showed that rude and inconsiderate behaviour on the road was more likely to evoke feelings of anger and frustration than those who drove dangerously."
Drivers on the wrong end of discourteous behaviour generally reacted in one of two ways - they responded with aggressive behaviour or they didn’t respond at all, despite feeling angry.
Participants who reported sounding their horns or displaying the ‘one finger salute’ believed their actions were justified, as a means of communicating their dissatisfaction at the behaviour of other drivers.
"We also found that there were a number of drivers who, despite reporting they felt quite angered by poor driving etiquette, didn't respond at all because they felt a level of superiority over the other driver,” Mr Shaw said.
"They refrained from an aggressive response because they felt behaving aggressively would lower themselves to the level of someone that they thought was rude."
Following on from this survey, Ms Shaw will now study other psychological processes involved in driving.
Queensland drivers over the age of 18 are invited to take part in an online survey around 40 minutes in duration, with the promise of a $20 Coles / Myer voucher upon completion.
To register for the survey, click here (website opens in new window).