Driving Aggression
• On August 24th, 2011, a Vancouver motorist was
punched by an irate driver. The irate driver then used his
vehicle to ram and pin the victim between the two
• Between 1998 and 2000, 59 road rage incidents were
reported in Canadian newspapers1
• Although serious forms of road rage may be relatively
rare, other forms of driver aggression such as horn
honking and tailgating appear to be more prevalent2
Inaccurate Definitions
of Driving Aggression
• Aggressive driving has been referred to in a number
of ways: road rage, reckless driving, dangerous
driving, risky driving, assertive driving, and driver
• NHTSA defined aggressive driving as the operation
of a motor vehicle in a manner which “endangers or
is likely to endanger people or property”3
• “Road rage” should not be used in technical writing
and it should be replaced by “aggressive driving”
and “driver violence”4
Accurate Definitions
of Driving Aggression
• Driver aggression has been defined as any
behavior intended to physically, emotionally, or
psychologically harm another within the driving
environment (Hennessy & Wiesenthal, 2001).
• Operational definitions:
– Driver violence – Violations of the criminal code:
• assault, threatening harm, pointing firearms, etc.
– Aggressive driving - Violations of highway traffic laws:
• failing to dim high-beam headlights, tailgating, reckless
driving, failing to yield, speeding, etc.
Theoretical Model of Aggression
• General Aggression Model (Anderson & Bushman, 2002)
Situation Factors
• Congestion
• Anonymity
• Injustice
• Roadway Features
• Environmental Conditions
Person Factors:
Biology, Personality, & Attitudes
• Biology: Gender and Age
• Personality:
Trait Aggression
Trait Anger
Classic Big 5 Traits : Neuroticism
• Attitudes: Aggression and Justice
Internal States
• Cognitions
– Perceptions of Injustice
– Perceptions of Risk
• Certainty
• Severity
• Emotion
– Anger
Prevalence of Aggressive Driving
• Goehring (2000) reported 90% of AAA members
witnessed an aggressive driving incident over a year
• A survey of 1,395 Ontario residents5
≈ 50% had been being shouted at, cursed at, or had rude hand
gestures directed towards them
> 7% were threatened with damage to their vehicle or physical injury
• A content analysis of 5315 online complaints identified
1746 complaints that mentioned aggressive behaviour6
The Belief in an Unjust World and
Narcissism: The Influence of Personality
on Perceptions of Injustice, Driving
Anger, and Aggressive Driving.
Roseborough, J.
Wiesenthal, D. L.
Flett, G. L.
Cribbie, R. A.
• Aggressive driving behaviours are frequently
performed on Canadian roadways and are a
source of potential harm
• Aggressive driving may represent retaliatory
behaviour in response to a perceived injustice
• To investigate how differences in unjust world
beliefs and narcissism were related to
differences in perceptions of injustice and anger
• Examine the relation between perceptions of
injustice and retaliatory aggressive driving
General Aggression Model
Anderson & Bushman, 2002
Proposed Model of
Retaliatory Aggressive Driving
Roseborough, Wiesenthal, Flett, & Cribbie, 2011
(Internal States)
• Participants – 247 York University students
– 127 females and 120 males
• Procedure – Online study
• Measures and Stimuli
– Unjust World Views Scale
– Narcissistic Personality Inventory
– Written Vignette
– Animated Video Clip
– Attribution, Affect, and Reaction Questionnaire
Unjust Driving Scenario
In your green car, you have been waiting to
make a left-turn for quite some time. Due to the
large amount of oncoming traffic only a couple of
cars are able to turn left on each light. As your
light turns green two cars in front of you enter
the intersection. As you move closer towards the
intersection, a red car in the lane to your right
slows down with its turn signal and tries to
merge into your lane.
• Data from the four scenarios were analysed using
Structural Equation Modelling
• SEM similar to regression but can assess latent
variables, mediators, and interactions
• A model based on research and theory is proposed and
compared to the data.
• SEM provides information as to how well the model fits
the data
• SEM indicates significant or non-significant pathways
• SEM also identifies significant pathways that were not
• SEM performs many functions and examines complex
relationships between numerous variables
Conclusion and Summary
• The goal of this study was to provide a
better understanding of driving aggression.
• An important pathway that led from
individual differences to internal states to
driving aggression was identified.
• Application of findings to driver education
This could not have been possible without the
support, advice, and reviews from the following
• Dr. Christine Wickens – C.A.M.H. – Toronto
• Dr. Esther Greenglass – York University
• Dr. Louise Ripley – York University
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