Arizona experiences increased road rage incidents.



ARIZONA, USA — One man was killed and a woman critically injured this week in two separate road rage incidents in the Valley. These are just two examples of road rage cases that have risen in Arizona for the last few years.

The state and all law enforcement agencies began tracking road rage in Arizona in 2019. That year, the state found 520 road rage incidents on Arizona streets.

The latest data from 2022 shows that the number has grown 59% to 828 road rage incidents on Arizona streets.

Between 2021 and 2022, Arizona saw a 36% increase in road rage cases.

“I think as bad as road rage is, it might actually be a symptom of other frustrations that people are having with each other right now,” Ryan Martin, a professor of psychology and studies anger and road rage at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, said.

It’s frustration and lack of trust in one another from recent events like the pandemic, contentious elections, and economic stress Martin believes could be behind road rage now.

“When we’re dealing with emotions, it’s never just one thing,” Martin said. “And I suspect those things are coming together in different ways for different people.”

In research, Brad Bushman, a professor of communication at The Ohio State University, tested whether drivers were more aggressive with a gun in the car.

“Most people don’t realize the most dangerous behavior they engage in almost every day is driving a vehicle,” Bushman said.

To do so, Bushman put people through a driving simulator that ran through scenarios where people are likely to become aggressive or frustrated while behind the wheel.

“Just by the flip of a coin, we put either a tennis racket or handgun in the passenger seat. And what we told participants is, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, this vehicle is being used for many different studies. That object is part of a different study; just ignore it.’” Bushman said. “Apparently, they could not ignore it. Participants who had a gun in the passenger seat were more aggressive drivers than those who had a tennis racket in the passenger seat.”

Bushman notes, however, multiple risk factors add up to road rage, not just one.

“Maybe it’s hot outside, being a male is a risk factor, having a gun in the vehicle is a risk factor, being provoked by other drivers is a risk factor, if somebody flips you off, or whatever, that’s a risk factor. So it’s usually a combination of these risk factors that push people over the edge and cause them to engage in violent behavior,” Bushman said.

As for tips for drivers on the road, Bushman recommends people give extra time to get where they’re going, use their air conditioner in the car, and take deep breaths or listen to calming music if feeling angry.

Martin also recommends drivers drive defensively, consciously decide to be calm on the road, and pull over if angry.

“There’s no good that can come from trying to get revenge on someone who wronged you on the road,” Martin said. “Even if that wrongdoing was egregious.”

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