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April 18, 2017 06:18 PM

The Psychology Behind Road Rage

Road rage is blamed for thousands of crashes every year, according to a recent AAA report.

With more and more cases of disgruntled drivers popping up across the nation, and even here in KELOLAND, we wanted to understand what might be behind the increase.

We caught up with Brian Gochal as he was pumping gas just before he got his day started. Gochal seems like a pretty easy going guy. He agrees he is now, but admits that when he was younger, he was a pretty angry driver.

 "I was a honker, a yeller, a honker yeller. A combination of both and then I became a starer," Gochal said.

In fact, during this interview we dealt with a few people facing road rage at the light right behind us.

 "Slow drivers, people cutting off, people not knowing how to drive basically just not understanding how to be a communal part of the road," Gochal said

It's a confrontation many of us have either experienced or been on the receiving end of.

Sanford clinical social worker Karla Harmon says there are different levels of road rage: from mild anger to aggressive dangerous behavior.

"People are triggered for some reason they are maybe already late they are stressed, there's a detour they weren't expecting," Sanford clinical social worker Karla Harmon said

Serious situations, where you might be using the horn just a little but too much could be an indication of a behavioral disorder, Harmon says. 

"Some of the more serious cases they've attached it to Intermittent Explosive Disorder. But for most of us, I think it happens because there are more cars on the road. Summer is coming, so there is tons and tons of road construction," Harmon said.

Harmon says if you are a victim of another driver's rage, do your best not to respond and just let the vehicle pass. So what do you do if you're the one losing your temper?

"Seeing the car next to you as a person. Because de-personalizing is one of the causes or contributors of road rage, because we just see it as a car not as another person," Harmon said

Gochal says he no longer gets angry when he's on the road. He's simply realized there's no point to it.

"It was just absolutely ridiculous to be mad at somebody else driving. If they cut you off and you're mad, you lose twice," Gochal said.

Harmon says if you are the victim of someone's road rage and they start following you never drive straight home. She says not to escalate the situation and drive somewhere safe like the police station.

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