Will Road Rage Disappear In The Future?

Remain Vigilant

Will Road Rage Disappear In The Future? One of the features of life on the road for truckies, and other road users, for the past twenty or so years, has been road rage. It seemed to come out of nowhere, all of a sudden drivers were jumping out of their vehicles and attacking others drivers by the side of the road, in retaliation for some perceived issue on the road.

My first experience was seeing a van driver screaming to a halt at traffic lights before running along the median strip to a car in front of him. He then proceeded to punch the closed driver’s window while screaming abuse at the driver inside. A few seconds later the lights turned green and the car sped off, as the enraged van driver took a kick at the rear wing of the offending car.

The shock of seeing and hearing such violence at 10.30am on a weekday brought me up with a start and made me look at my own attitudes. Many of us get angry and frustrated with other road users, due to their lack of consideration, or sheer stupidity, but our reactions are limited to the uttered oath and the occasional rude gesture. Road rage takes the level up quite a few notches and has put people in harms way.

One of the root causes of the phenomenon comes from drivers’ belief in their own ability to drive and that they are in full control of the vehicle. The modern car is designed to make drivers feel safe and secure, insulated from what is going on on the road around them.

Those driving trucks do not feel quite so in control. Yes, they are definitely better drivers and will have more driving experience, on average, but the truck will also remind them, more often, they are not in quite so much control as they would like. When a second trailer drifts, or the drives lose traction momentarily, they are reminded of the fact they are in forty-odd tonnes of metal travelling at 100 km/h.

For truck drivers the road rage comes more from the perceived inability of the car drivers around them to understand what travelling with trucks involves. The truck driver has little or no confidence in the car drivers’ belief in their own ability to drive. Cars are seen as a permanent ‘accident waiting to happen’.

The tension between drivers on the road seems to ramp up year-on-year, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. When surveyed, most car drivers would consider investing in an autonomous car, when they become available.

This would mean cars on the road would have built in systems, which know exactly what is going on around them and what’s round the next corner. The car or truck, itself, will anticipate any incident and either brake or avoid the issue. Vehicles will stop for red lights automatically and divert from the normal route to avoid frustrating congestion.

How long it will be before this new dawn of autonomous traffic will be with us is an open question. However, the experts tell us it only needs ten percent of the vehicles on the road to be using Intelligent Transport Systems before we start to see real improvements.

Will the brave new world of autonomy be all sweetness and light? The optimist in me can see a future of smiling truck drivers sitting at the lights reading a novel or playing a game on their ipad. The pessimist can see road ragers punching the LCD screen on the dash screaming, ‘****ing stupid machine!’