When the gas pedal turns into a weapon jostle, cut, risky overtaking – in addition honk, scold and provoke. A considerate driving style is increasingly rare on Austria’s roads. Experts estimate that up to 85 percent of traffic accidents are due to aggressive behavior. What makes decent fellow citizens aggressive drivers? And how can the onset of holiday traffic go off without a charged mood?
“Brawl among motorists in Linz” – this is how an Austrian newspaper titled an event that caused a sensation nationwide just a few weeks ago. Seven people were involved in a fight. Immediate trigger: too narrow a piece of road. What happened? Two cars collided on a narrow street and could not continue. But none of the drivers wanted to go back and make room for the other. Then the driver of one car got out and began to berate the driver of the other car. That, in turn, their co-driver did not like and countered. The argument of the men quickly turned into a brawl, in which the women also participated. Then even the inmates of a third car, which had stopped in the meantime, interfered in the fight, so that in the end a total of seven people were involved. The scuffle ended with three injured. A regrettable individual case on the otherwise conflict-free streets of Austria? Not at all! The traffic culture is not in the best in Germany. According to a study by the ÖAMTC, driving is only a pleasure for ten percent of all Austrian drivers. For the remaining 90 percent, it means stress caused by congestion, driving under time pressure, constantly increasing traffic, but also by ruthless drainpipers and other unfair behaviors of road users. All in all, an almost “ideal” breeding ground for negative emotions.
Aggression by anonymity
An example that happens every day thousands of times on Austria’s streets: “You get stuck in a traffic jam only gradually, to an important date threatens to come despite the scheduled time reserve too late, so the mobile rings continuously. Other drivers in the column feel the same way, it is flashed, honking, some suddenly shear out without regard to others – this scenario creates stress, “says Univ. Prof. Dr. Herwig Scholz, medical director of the Hospital de La Tour in Treffen in Carinthia. The neurologist and psychiatrist is also managing chairman of the Medical Association of motorists (ÄKVÖ), which deals among other things with the psychic phenomena in road traffic. “There are few possibilities in the small cabin to be able to act out the stress, this charged mood. These options include gestures and expressions that are only rarely used outside of road traffic: you tap on the head, scold, press the horn or provoke, “said Scholz. According to the traffic psychologist Dr. med. Elisabeth Panosch of the Board of Trustees for Traffic Safety (KfV) communicates the isolation in the vehicle a sense of security and anonymity, which leads many to let their aggression run wild. “Many believe that you can not immediately be punished with counter-aggression in the car. Studies have shown, for example, that convertible drivers with the top down often operate the horn more often and longer when there is nothing left on the road than those with the top down. The latter are clearly visible and therefore not as protected.”
Aggressive are always the others
From a psychological point of view, the self-assessment of the drivers is remarkable: only the others are classified as being aggressive and threatening. Only about one in 30 motorists admits that he is not always fair. Two-thirds of Austrian motorists consider themselves less dangerous than the others – as a Europe-wide study has shown. “This study also shows that assessing the speed with which motorists drive through a local area is completely unrealistic. Only six percent of respondents said they were traveling faster than allowed in the area. However, we know from Speed Measurements of the Road Safety Board that every second travels much faster than 50 km / h. Only one person in five sticks to a restriction of 30 “, says Dr. med. Panosch. In order to get a grip on aggression and other psychological phenomena in traffic, more intensive scientific research is needed. Therefore, Prof. Scholz advocates the establishment of an institute for traffic medicine, in which the research on the many health risks in traffic converges. “Just as there is a great deal of research into reducing car emissions or improving safety technology, so too should the causes and effects of psychological phenomena in road traffic be intensively investigated at an independent traffic medical institute,” said the chairman of the Austrian Medical Association.
Rage and alcohol
For Univ. Prof. Dr. Herwig Scholz is an absolutely dangerous duo: “Alcohol not only reduces the ability to react quickly, to assess distances correctly or to move in a coordinated manner, but it also increases the aggression tendency and the willingness to take risks.” However, the neurologist and psychiatrist also makes up for his reduced ability to drive Attention to the effects of psychotropic drugs. “People who take sleeping pills or sedatives in the evening should know that these medications may work in the morning or morning, thus affecting their ability to drive. We know that road users under the influence of benzodiazepines, substances with anxiolytic and sedative effects, are at least twice as likely to be at risk as those who do not take any medication. Because on the one hand, these funds have a calming effect, on the other hand, they can increase risk-taking – in road traffic, such side effects are fatal! ”
Source: Medizin Populaer