Virtual road all the rage
An online study will reveal what makes us angry, writes Mark Hinchliffe
TAILGATING, rude gestures and blowing the horn are among the top aggressive driver behaviours that increase risks on our roads, according to a road safety expert.
Queensland University of Technology researcher Dr Alexia Lennon says this sort of behaviour may not lead to road rage, but can s0till cause drivers to become aggressive and ‘‘risky’’, leading to more crashes.
Lennon and a QUT team of researchers will study the triggers that make drivers aggressive in a $ 285,000 three-year online study funded by the Australian Research Council Discovery.
‘‘The thing that distinguishes this study is that we will stream online footage of simulated road scenarios and see how drivers respond,’’ she says. ‘‘We will place participants in the driver’s seat and they will experience frustrating and irritating road events they might expect to encounter in daily driving.
‘‘We don’t regard the study as looking at road rage, which is very rare, but driver aggression, which is much more common.’’
She says initial research has shown aggression can be caused by ‘‘something ordinary that everyday drivers do’’ such as cutting other drivers off, making rude gestures, tailgating or blowing the horn.
Lennon hopes the study will lead to new ways to improve safety.
‘‘These could include a mass education campaign, changing the learner-driver procedure, new legislation or changing the way roads are designed,’’ she says, adding that road design that reduces merging and lanechanging can lessen frustration.
Getting agro: driver aggression is very common, says a university researcher.