Though brief bits of road rage are a common part of everyday life, these incidences rarely escalate beyond a flip of the bird. On Nov. 6, however, in the intersection of Quadra and McKenzie, two men armed themselves with tools from their cars and fought, because one vehicle had allegedly cut the other off.
Saanich Police arrived on the scene at 6:30 p.m. to find the two men with weapons in hand, and a third man, who had witnessed the event, trying to separate the two. Police detained a 47-year-old Surrey man, armed with a utility knife and a hammer, and the 31-year-old Saanich man, equipped with a metal anti-theft device for a steering wheel.
The 51-year-old Saanich man who intervened received a cut to his hand from the utility knife.
The 31-year-old driver was released without charges, while the 47-year-old was released from custody with a scheduled court date in late December, and recommended charges against him of two counts of assault with a weapon.
While not many people are likely to go to arms against someone for not signalling, a 2012 survey by insurance company Kanetix shows that 79 per cent of Canadian drivers admit to angry driving behaviours. This study showed that speeding is the most commonly admitted behaviour, ranking among 60 per cent of respondents. Appearing in both second and forth places on the list is profanity or yelling; once due to traffic delays, and once due to others’ driving behaviours.
Similarly, in 2011, ICBC conducted its own study and found that half of drivers surveyed thought that drivers are less courteous than they were five years ago. Although, at the same time, 40 per cent of these drivers stated that they had not been discourteous to other drivers in the last three months.
An ICBC psychologist, John Vavrik, however, believes that this is not always the case. “There’s a clear disconnect between how drivers perceive their own driving behaviours and the reality of their driving.” Vavrik also points out numerous studies that have shown that, while driving can be a stressful task, drivers’ discourtesy is the majority cause of road rage. He says that it is the aggressive or careless driving behaviours of others that will lead to the greatest frustration, and possible road rage.
Fortunately, it’s not all bad news. ICBC says that courteous driving is contagious. If drivers continue to be mindful and courteous of other drivers around them, then the feeling spreads. While it’s not every day that people start brawling in the streets over these issues, if drivers are mindful, road rage incidents need not occur at all.