Road rage has become synonymous with road accidents in many parts of the world where there is increased population and traffic density. The millennial man is forever in a hurry, and Malaysia, with its 32-million population and growing, has its fair share of road rage.
This phenomenon has become one of the most common problems experienced by motorists. One tends to witness accidents anecdotally, this suggests an alarming rate. Reportedly, Malaysians are an “angry and dangerous lot” on the road. A study by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety (Miros) shows there are 2.4 million “highly angry” drivers out of the 13.3 million registered drivers — it means two of 10 Malaysians tend to “lose it” when driving.
Contrary to the belief that road rage is just bad behaviour or “an attitude”, there is actually a biology and cognitive science to it, according to scientists from the University of Chicago. They said most aggressive-driving accidents and fatalities on US roads involve millennials. An alarming thought.
There is something unnerving about a “transformation” that can take place when one is driving. That some can morph into Bruce Banner’s the hulk at the slightest provocation is frightening. The NBCNews.com has coined it an “intermittent explosive disorder”.
Why all that rage? Yes, it’s a dreaded drive on the jam-packed road with hundreds of vehicles, but is getting stressed over it worth the energy? Reacting to road rage is courting danger. The consequence is dire; the incident over the weekend, for instance, saw the death of 29-year-old Syed Muhammad Danial Syed Shakir.
This Leader is not pointing fingers or casting blame, nor is it speculating. Curing road rage would nigh be impossible, but a bit of perspective is needed. The kerfuffle could have ended amicably. Roads are no place for an angered individual to be. A driver who ignores the right of way of another because he is late has a knock-on effect when the one offended is in a state of anxiety, for example. In most incidents, it’s a case of “psychologically flawed drivers” in the wrong place at the wrong time.
How do we contain road rage? One, Malaysian drivers must learn to drive properly. The punishment for an offender must be severe. A course in anger management, perhaps, to accompany jail term. Driving is a skill, hence a good or would-be driver must be conversant with the highway code. He must be tested for civic consciousness. We share a space — limited by necessity — in machines (cars) man designed as efficient killers, akin to a speeding bullet.
It calls for mindfulness, or road courtesy.
Two, corruption claims in the Road Transport Department must be addressed. That “flying licence” (lesen terbang) exists speaks volumes of such a culture.
Three, a more efficient public transport system.
Four, the law must take off bad drivers from the roads. More prison time, suspend or cancel their licences, and mandatory prison for those without licences and causing accidents. Road bullies? They are criminals, prosecute them accordingly.
For justice to be served, especially in cases where death is the outcome, there must be hard evidence that suggests the survivor was out of control. And most importantly, investigations must be above board and not sullied by racism and politics.