Road Rage

Suffer from Road Rage?  You may have Intermittent Explosive Disorder.

Road Rage fatalities between 2008 and 2012 caused 1,380 deaths.

CBS Pittsburg reported that two drivers got into a car accident in Squirrel Hill, but afterwards one man took it to the extreme of throwing punches.

Allentown police also found themselves investigating a string of road-rage shootings.  Thankfully, no one was injured.

And most recently, a dash cam captured a March crash between women drivers in San Diego.  Police are trying to determine whether the collision during an alleged road rage incident was intentional or whether one of the drivers lost control of their vehicle.

Statistics tell us that most all of us have been involved in an aggressive driving experience either as the victim or the aggressor at some point in our lives.  Aggressive driving and road rage is on the rise and according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA) it is one, if not the top concern for many drivers today.   This growing concern for road rage has lead doctors and other professionals to investigate why this burst of anger occurs in the first place.

“Road rage, especially if it’s frequent enough, is probably a part of Intermittent explosive disorder (IED), which is much more prevalent than people thought,” said Dr. Emil Coccaro of the University of Chicago.

Harvard Medical School epidemiologist Ronald Kessler said he was “blown away by how many people meet criteria” for IED. He described it as “mind-boggling” that its prevalence hadn’t been recognized sooner.

Psychology Today states that Intermittent Explosive Disorder falls in the category of Impulse-Control Disorders. The condition is characterized by failure to resist aggressive impulses, resulting in serious assaults or property destruction.  IED is associated with loss of cells and abnormalities in the left hemisphere of the brain,  and is linked to an inadequate production or functioning of serotonin, a mood‐regulating chemical in the brain.People with intermittent explosive disorder may attack others and their possessions, causing bodily injury and property damage. They may also injure themselves during an outburst. Later, people with intermittent explosive disorder may feel remorse, regret or embarrassment.

Cognitive behavior therapy is a common treatment for people with IED, with the goal of educating the patient about how to recognize the behaviors associated with their aggressive attacks and to curb the behaviors using proven strategies.  Treatment with psychotropic medications has been limited, but sometimes involves the use of antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotics.  Because IED is an early-onset disorder in most cases, behavioral treatment early is often considered the most appropriate and effect way of curbing symptoms.

The following are tips on how to avoid the road rage of others, as you do not want to find yourself in a dangerous situation:

1)     Be a polite driver

  • Allow other drivers to pass
  • Help other drivers
  • Follow the rules of the road

2)     Avoid Confrontation

  • If someone shouts at you out of anger, don’t make eye contact or yell back.
  • Keep your eyes on the road.

3)     It’s not personal

  • Remember, they are experiencing their own road rage, and are not made specifically at you.

4)     Stay Safe and Keep Others Safe

  • If you are feeling particularly threatened, note the license plate number and the make and model of the car.

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