It seems like you can't drive more than two miles today it hout encountering road rage. Some say that road rage is a national epidemic more dangerous than drunk driving. Others find it to be a perpetual but insignificant problem. Needless to say, almost everyone agrees that road rage is an actual attitude that can be observed on most American roadways. But what is road rage Is it some kind of medical condition A certain habit or behavior Or maybe it's an actual traffic accident Road rage has a short but interesting history. The term "road rage" first appeared in England in 1988 and gained popularity rapidly.

Mentioned only about two dozen times in 1994, there was an extensive increase when the term was mentioned 400 times the following year. In 1996 the term appeared 1, 600 times and has been steadily growing since then. The public has grasped the term and considers it to be one of the foremost national driving concerns. In a recent AAA poll 44% of motorists ranked road rage as the biggest threat on the road while drunk driving ranked second with 31%. Road rage is now an everyday household term heard on the evening news and read in newspapers daily (Bowles, Scott, and Paul Overberg). So what is this new-sprung expression that has received so much attention in recent years Numerous people have tried to define the term and add some clarity to it's meaning.

Some have tried to determine it's psychological significance and apply it to certain people. Others have defined the term according to traffic violations-speeding, running stoplights and recklessness. In addition, others have tried to classify it according to poor driving conduct such as obscene gestures and unkind words. Each of these definitions are valid interpretations of road rage's meaning (Overberg) Many psychologists believe road rage to be an aggressive behavior disorder.

Arnold Nerenberg, a psychologist in Whittier, California, is one of the most prevalent experts on road rage in America. Nerenberg believes that road rage is a "mental disorder and social disease," which involves evolution. He states that throughout history mankind has had a competitive spirit and tries to dominate others. Nerenberg defines road rage as " basically a maladaptive reaction to an identifiable psycho-social stressor that interferes with social functioning," or, more simply put, "one driver expressing anger at another driver... at least twice a year." John Larson, a psychiatrist at Yale University, believes road rage is a "vigilante behavior" and that different levels of road rage exist. Furthermore, Larson believes that road rage is caused by association with sports, saying that a road rage is an individual who is "strongly imbued with the sports model, either from high school, college or professional sports; and from identification with sports heroes who become introjected models for behavior." Make and model of a car is also a determining factor in road rage, according to Larson.

People who drive a sports car, sport utility vehicle, or pickup truck may be seen as targets of aggression (Fum ento). Psychology helps to define road rage but leaves some questions unanswered, perhaps other factors can further define it. Many states have passed road rage legislation and given their definition of it. Arizona was the first state to pass aggressive driving laws. Arizona defines aggressive driving as a misdemeanor violation that occurs when a speeding car commits two of three other violations-erratic lane changes, tailgating, and failure to yield (Bowles, Scott, and Paul Overberg). New York has also recently passed road rage legislation.

On February 9, 1998, Governor Pataki announced the bill saying "this bill sends a clear message to those who choose to jeopardize the lives of others by turning New York's roads and highways into danger zones. Too many collisions are not accidents. If you choose to operate your car in a reckless, irresponsible manner, you will be arrested and punished to the maximum extent the law will allow." New York defines aggressive driving, or road rage, as "the unsafe operation of a motor vehicle in a hostile manner, without regard for the safety of other users of the highway. Aggressive driving includes frequent or unsafe lane changes, failing to signal, tailgating, failing to yield right of way, and disregarding traffic controls." Legal definitions help to define road rage, however, obscene or menacing behavior towards other drivers is also a factor in the term's definition. Road rage can also be defined as simple acts of aggression which are menacing to other drivers. For example, a car is going slower than the speed limit and the driver behind it is late for work and speeding.

The fast driver will inevitably become angry, start to swear at the other driver and pass him. While passing, the aggressive driver may display some obscene hand gestures to the slow driver. There it is-a classic example of road rage. Nothing particularly illegal took place, but anger and tension were present in this case. The definitions of road rage are numerous and cover a broad category of ideas. Each one has it's factuality, but which one is the most valid There is no answer to that question.

Each definition has it's advantages and shortcomings. It all depends on what context you are using the word in-as a psychological term, a legal term, or just everyday conversation. What's more is that, with it's growing use, definitions of road rage are sure to become even greater and broader.