Aggressive driving behaviour is a reflection of a person’s surrounding culture, both on the road and on a broader social level, says a study.
The findings suggest that some countries and cultures may be more susceptible to aggressive or competitive driving behaviours due to their social environment, and that improvements in that arena would also be seen in driving behaviour. “The choice to be competitive versus cooperative always starts with culture, by the influences around us and the way other people behave,” said one of the researchers Haizhong Wang, assistant professor of transportation engineering at Oregon State University in the US.
“And it’s clear there’s a role for education and experience, where studies have shown the value of young drivers participating in driver education programmes and receiving positive guidance from their parents and peers,” Wang noted. The study also implies that different social conditions might ultimately translate into better drivers.
However, these dangerous behaviours are becoming a worldwide phenomenon of almost epidemic proportions partly as a reaction to overcrowded road networks, the researchers said.
The findings, published in the journal Procedia Engineering, showed that such behaviour is more pronounced in men than in women.
The research was done with drivers in China where competitive driving is very common.
The problems in China as it becomes increasingly crowded with drivers, however, reflect similar concerns at varying levels around the world, Wang said.
In this analysis, the researchers concluded that drivers in congested situations generally believed that the chaotic traffic state was responsible for their competitive behavior, and they had no option other than to compete for space, the right-of-way, and gain advantages through speed and spacing.
In simple terms, it was right and proper that they should try to keep up with or get ahead of traffic; that was the example being set for them, and they drove that way because everyone else did.
However, the study also suggested that “personality traits draw on and are influenced by aspects of one’s social environment.”