What causes road rage?

Doctor talks about what causes road rage

A loss of intelligence due to anger. A loss of accountability. And a loss of respect.

Those are factors Dr. Carl Robinson said combine to create road rage incidents such as those which plagued Dallas-Fort Worth highways this week.

“People need to recognize they have a responsibility when they get behind the wheel. To themselves and other people,” said Robinson.

Three times over a 72-hour span earlier this week, gunshots were fired from one vehicle at another. The first of those shootings happened Sunday night in Arlington when 19-year-old Dylan Spaid was killed.

Just hours later, a teenager suffered a head wound when someone fired into her vehicle near I-30 and I-635 in Mesquite. 

On Wednesday, a man pulled into a Waffle House in North Richland Hills bleeding from his arm after being shot in a case of road rage.

Dr. Robinson is with Dallas LifeSkills and provides anger management counseling as related to behavioral health, often ordered by courts or employers. Like other kinds of anger, Dr. Robinson said anger on the road is coming from something else in a person’s life.

“We are looking at displaced anger. Displaced from home, relationships, from the job, and it goes from the person to the highways," he said.

That anger causes a person to think or act in a way they normally would not. Within seconds, anger can cause people to lose up to 80 percent of their intelligence, according to Robinson.

But it's not just a loss of intelligence that leads to such violent actions on the road. Because drivers are dealing with strangers yet somewhat separated and protected by their vehicle, they might feel more safe taking bolder actions -- the same way people say things on the internet that they wouldn't say in person.

“We do not have the same level of accountability in our cars that we would face-to-face outside a supermarket,” said Robinson. “Accountability is very low in our own cars.”

And ultimately, road rage is often spurred by respect or a lack thereof. Drivers might not show the same level of respect to strangers on the road and the idea of being disrespected leads to dangerous incidents.

“If you just cut me off, I feel like you took something from me and I need to go get it. It can happen in a split second," he says.

Still, can the anger really provide the motivation to kill? Dr. Robinson thinks people who shoot at others on the road are using whatever means is available. If they have a gun in the vehicle when tempers flare, they will be inclined to use it against the other driver without thinking of the consequences.

Because such extreme anger is symptomatic of other issues a person might be dealing with, Robinson said addressing issues in other areas of our life can help prevent them from being displaced onto the highways in the form of road rage.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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