"Well, who goes that way!"

Recently, I stayed with friends, when I arrived without a car, we agreed that my daughter would then throw me home. To admit, I was a little worried about the driving skills of a 19-year-old girl. As it turned out, in vain: she drives very well. But it is expressed in this case not very much. Not that I have not heard anything like this before - I heard, but mostly from the mouths of junior sergeants and corporals during the army service, and not from the sophomore of the Moscow State University. The girl herself was very worried, obviously trying to hold back, and on parting asked me not to tell my parents everything. I promised, but I shared with my wife. She ironically looked at me and chuckled: "Have you ever heard yourself driving at all?"

The road to infancy

According to sociologists, 47% of Russian drivers consider the extremely low level of culture of participants in the movement to be the main problem on the roads. In this case, the very existence of the car as if implying a certain level of education or qualifications, which are simply necessary to earn it. So what happens with our education, upbringing and culture, when we sit behind the wheel?

In English, there is the notion of "road rage".In Russian it can be translated roughly as "aggressive behavior on the road." But it will be too clumsy and neutral. Road rage is anger, rage, intolerance, which literally overwhelm many drivers. And these feelings are familiar to us no worse than the British and Americans.


It is curious that this ferocious beast wakes up in us not just in the car, but at the wheel. Agree, in the passenger seat, few people think of scolding the last words of zazevavshihsya pedestrians or "gambling" of drivers. Apparently, aggression comes along with the understanding that we control the situation.

This is absolutely true, the psychologist Leon James is convinced, who devoted years of research to the behavior of aggressive drivers. After all, when we get behind the wheel, the car, in fact, becomes a continuation of ourselves. "It allows us to exercise direct control over the world around us," explains the psychologist. "The machine is powerful and obedient, it reacts instantly to our orders, and this gives rise to pleasure, connected with a sense of power." **

But psychoanalysis constantly reminds us: the desire for the infant feeling of omnipotence lives in each of us. And we are very close to him at the wheel. Is it any wonder that any hindrances on the way to its achievement cause a storm of anger in us? The fugitive, squeezed into the turntable in front of us, the red light not flashing in time, the hardly crawling truck ahead ruthlessly brings us back to reality from the world of sweet illusion in which everything is subject to us.

Illusion of protection

Leon James also notes another reason for the unpleasant changes at the wheel: "Even very discreet people can become irritable when driving. This is largely due to the peculiar effect of anonymity: we do not know who controls the other car, and are inclined to attribute the most negative features to these unknown drivers, sharply criticizing them (although this criticism does not reach their ears). " It is unlikely that we will bring down the same anger at a man who accidentally touched us with a shoulder in the metro or on the street. At least, not having made sure at first that we are not dealing with a morose big man. The machine removes this restraining barrier. It creates the illusion of a protected and undivided space that belongs to us only.

The metal body serves as armor (the reliability of which, alas, we all, as a rule, overestimate). And the comfortable interior sets up a kind and carefree mode: comfortably adjustable armchairs, headrests and steering column, a radio with excellent sound quality and a large screen, and recently even the ability to access the Internet directly from behind the wheel - all this dulls our vigilance. "In a sense," adds the psychologist, "this feeling of comfort and safety is akin to a car with a mother's womb, further strengthening our craving for infant omnipotence."

And the word, and business

The habit of swearing at the wheel of none of us, to put it mildly, does not paint. However, this is not the worst manifestation of the road rage itself. It is much more dangerous when aggression is embodied not in word, but in action. And in terms of aggressive driving, we can quite argue with hackers from Turkey or Egypt. The craving for complete control, and the illusion of protection, and the dullness of comfort, can manifest itself not only in the streams of abuse, but also in the gas pedal pressed into the floor. There are reckless driving and other reasons.

Aggressive driving can be an unconscious ploy,the desire to protect themselves from a constant existential anxiety, says psychologist Jean-Pascal Assailly, a researcher at the National Institute for Transport and Security Studies of France. "The sheer danger is better than" intangible "stress, the reasons for which we are not clear," he explains. - Such a replacement, by the way, occurs with phobias, when an incomprehensible person's anxiety is embodied in the fear of spiders or enclosed space. He himself creates a convincing reason for horror: what torments from within, acquires a name and appearance. "*** Thus, everyday stress is quite capable of turning a quiet office clerk, who no one suspects of aggression, is a real monster on the road.

Finally, our desire for acute sensations has also physiological grounds: in a situation of danger, the brain releases a special substance called dopamine, which causes a feeling with little comparable pleasure and excitement.

In a word, we have enough reasons for aggressive behavior at the wheel. Is it possible, in spite of all these reasons, to pacify the "road beast"?

The art of staying alive

If desired - yes, the psychologist Ernest Light answers.In the past our compatriot, he has been working in Canada for many years. In this country, many insurance programs provide for participants in an accident course of psychotherapy. It is this work that he is busy with. "When I got a driver's license in San Francisco in 1991, I needed a test to know the rules of the road," says the therapist. - Among all the questions I remembered one, which I simply could not imagine in the USSR. It sounded like this: "Safe driving is ..." And the options are: a) compliance with traffic rules; b) taking into account the traffic situation and choosing the right distance; c) the art of living. Option "B" fell away immediately as not related to the case, and I chose, it seems, "a". I passed the test then, but among several errors there was also an answer to this question. It was correct: "Safe driving is the art of staying alive". And my many years of experience working with people who have been in car accidents, constantly confirms the wisdom of this answer. "

Protection against aggression

Psychologist Ernest Light (Earnest Light) offers some simple recommendations to those who would like to reduce their own level of aggression at the wheel and less to suffer from the aggressiveness of othersparticipants in the movement.

  • In case of strange or aggressive behavior of another driver, try to find an explanation for it. For example, a person rushes to a hospital for a suddenly ill relative. Or the mother carries the child and is distracted by communication with him, paying less attention to the traffic situation. Proceed from the presumption of innocence. Respectful reasons why people do not drive very well, much more than some kind of malicious action.
  • Getting into a traffic situation that irritates you or angers, proceed from a simple rule "to a clever bow, to a fool - two". That is, try to concede as often as possible. It is better to skip the car squeezing in front of you than to scratch your for a just cause. Even the most trivial traffic accident takes so much time and nerves, that, for a second remembering about it, it's better to slow down and avoid troubles.
  • If you are taking passengers, be especially careful, because people have entrusted their lives to you. When you get into the car, always remind yourself that safe driving is the art of staying alive.

* The poll "Road safety through the eyes of its participants, employees of the State Traffic Safety Inspectorate and the Society", see on the VCIOM website wciom.ru.

** L. James and D.Nahl "Road Rage and Aggressive Driving" (Prometheus Books, 2000).

*** J.-P. Assailly "La Mortalité chez les jeunes" (PUF, 2001).

Read also "I'm in a panic at the wheel""I'm in a panic at the wheel"

Every month, one of the readers of Psychologies gets an opportunity to consult with a psychotherapist. The conversation is recorded on the recorder: it gives an opportunity to understand what is actually happening in the therapist's office. This time, Valentine came to see Robert Neuburger.

Pedestrian and his motoristsPedestrian and his motorists

Even the best friends sometimes find it difficult to understand each other - especially if one is a driver and another is a pedestrian. All the time it turns out that they see the world from different angles.

Text: Yuri Zubtsov
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