DRYDEN, Ont. - It can happen to any of us at any time, but for two truck drivers running through northwestern Ontario, road rage struck the night of Jan. 13.According to the OPP detachment in Dryden, ...
DRYDEN, Ont. – It can happen to any of us at any time, but for two truck drivers running through northwestern Ontario, road rage struck the night of Jan. 13.
According to the OPP detachment in Dryden, Ont., late that Saturday evening, two tractor-trailers were running westbound along Hwy. 17, near Ignace, Ont. When one transport allegedly cut the other off, further down the road, the two trucks stopped at the Viking Truck Stop to exchange driver information. Apparently tempers flared, a fight broke out, and one driver grabbed a hammer and proceeded to beat on his fellow trucker.
The victim dove under his truck, and the perpetrator climbed back in his rig and fled the scene.
The victim then drove to the Dryden OPP office, reported the attack, and then went to the Dryden Regional Health Center where he received treatment for bruises and abrasions.
A short while later, police arrested and charged John Elford, aged 30, from Jacksonville, N.B., in connection with the assault.
A quick glance at the headlines shows that road rage is a widespread problem. In Winnipeg, an off-duty police officer, Marianne Sheard, was recently found not guilty of attacking two women after an incident in 1998.
In January, Edmonton police asked drivers in the city to cool down, refrain from speeding, failing to signal and cutting off other drivers.
According to Mark Daicur, a researcher with the Transportation Health and Safety Association of Ontario (THSAO), road rage can strike any road user at any time. It’s becoming a fact of life on the country’s roads. A Canadian Safety Council Survey showed that 84 per cent of road users had witnessed an incident. Alarmingly, and somewhat surprisingly, many of these violent incidents go unreported.
“Some of them follow a normal path of events,” Daicur says, adding that a common characteristic of a road-rage incident is that, “they can very quickly get out of hand if you don’t have some techniques to calm yourself down.”
Road rage boils down to anger and a loss of control. If that anger is like dynamite, then aggressive driving acts light the fuse.
As Daicur points out, it may not even be actual aggressive driving which leads to an incident of road rage, but the perception of aggressive driving.
“There are a host of causes that have been correlated to what provokes road rage – everything from heat, noise, traffic volume, congestion of the road, tight schedules, feeling that you’re being delayed, a low tolerance for the mistakes of others – these types of things,” says Daicur. Other contributors include a person’s inborn sense of territory – ‘this space is mine, and don’t mess with it’ – and the artificial steel cocoon offered by a vehicle’s shell.
He notes research has uncovered data suggesting aggressive and reckless driving may even be a learned trait, something that children pick up from watching their parents behind the wheel. When these pre-conditions are present, all a person may need to fly into a bloodthirsty rage is getting cut-off.
“You get into a physiologically changed state: a heightened state of anxiety,” says Daicur. “Now you’re kind of in a situation where emotions override the logical part of conflict resolution.”
That’s where the trouble can start. Key to reducing the problem, as police in Edmonton are advising, is prevention.
“You should really be driving defensively,” he says, adding that, for the most part, professional truck drivers already know this. He notes that THSAO offers commercial drivers a course on such techniques.
He says before you act out of rage, ask yourself one important question.