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Aggressive Driving Behavior, Anger Reduction Treatment
Anger Management: Treating Road Rage - 6 CEUs

Section 1
Understanding Driver Anger and Aggression

Question 1 | Test | Table of Contents | Anger Management
Counselor CEUs, Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

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On this track, we will present an introduction to Anger Management regarding road rage and dispel widely held myths.  Two topics regarding road rage and Anger Management clients we will discuss are: the escalation of rage; and the internal process.  The myths we will discuss include the myths that connect road rage to the following:  temperature; character; and sex.  Are you currently treating a road rage court ordered anger management client?

Understanding 2 Processes that Lead to Road Rage

#1 Escalation of Rage in 3 Steps
The first topic we will discuss is the escalation of rage in an Anger Management client that occurs before an incident takes place.
--The first step is a single gesture, curse, or grimace delivered as retaliation. 
--The second step is vigilante behavior:  when the aggressive driver encounters another vehicle that inadvertently impedes his aggressive driving. The angry driver then decides to punish the other driver by scornful, hateful looks, curses, and obscene gestures.
--The third step is when the angry driver, in response to some form of retaliation by the driver he has punished, escalates his abuse of the other driver by actually harassing him with such tactics as tailgating or turning up his or her bright headlights.

Actual full blown road rage is the fourth and final step a court ordered  angry management driver can reach in which he or she further escalates abuse and punishment by seeking to physically injure the other driver. 

#2 Internal Process - 6 Characteristics
In addition to escalation of rage, a second important topic is the internal process of an angry driver under the influence of his or her road rage.  As I present to you a list of six characteristics of this internal process, think carefully of what you know about clients in Anger Management who is exhibiting road rage:

  1. Experiences exaggerated anger, irritation, aggravation, and impatience focusing on the most trivial occurrences.
  2. Becomes preoccupied with thoughts about what happened and distracted from concentrating on driving, thus becoming vulnerable to new danger.
  3. Forms irrational convictions about the personality and motivations of the other driver based on superficial evidence.
  4. Experiences impaired judgment, saying or doing things he or she later regrets, including engaging in risky driving behavior while attempting to punish or retaliate against the offending driver.
  5. Suffers from diminished sensibilities—i.e. the ability to hear, see, feel, touch, smell, and taste is dulled.
  6. Loses brain capacity, the power of abstract thinking, empathy, humor, appreciation of beauty, and the ability to feel love.

Think of your Anger Management client.  Does he or she experience any of these six internal processes when experiencing an impulse?  Are some incidents of road rage in your Anger Management clients not being treated?

Dispelling 3 Myths of Road Rage

Myth #1:  Temperature
Now we will discuss myths associated with road rage. The first myth that many people generalize about road rage is that the temperature affects moods. Do you agree that some Anger Management clients may blame the overwhelming heat or cold for their actions, stating that the high or low temperatures irritated them to a point that any little thing could have made them snap? Jason stated, "If just weren’t so god damn cold out, I wouldn’t have gotten that mad.  This damn weather." SAYAR

Myths #2 & #3: Character and Sex
Jack, one of my anger management clients who had experienced road rage in the past, stated, "That was just that one time, though. The majority of people who do that kind of stuff are gangsters and juveniles who are looking for a fight.  Not normal people. Not people with jobs or who have God in their lives."

To help Jack understand that it was more than just the character of the driver, I shared with him this news story. Donald Graham, a fifty-four year old church deacon, was driving home after an afternoon of square dancing when he saw a car using high beams to tailgate another. Donald decided that wasn’t right and took it upon himself to teach the tailgater a lesson by giving him a taste of his own medicine. Graham then tailgated the tailgater using bright beams too. Finally, the original tailgater, Michael Blodgett pulled to the side of the road and Donald did the same, a short distance behind. Blodgett got out and began to walk towards the deacon’s car with a heavy duty flashlight in hand. 

The deacon, decided the driver was as malevolent as he had suspected.  He then took a crossbow out of his trunk, loaded a hunting arrow, and shot Blodgett, mortally wounding him.  He later died from his injuries.  Even after being convicted and sentenced, the deacon still maintains self-defense.  I asked Jack if he would ever have suspected his own deacon or pastor to be capable of such actions.  Jack stated, "No, I guess not.  I suppose that anyone is capable of violence, even unwarranted violence." 

I feel that dispelling such myths of "it will never happen to me" is vital in helping an Anger Management client understand that he or she is not immune while in the car. Think of your Jack. Could he or she benefit from dispelling a myth?

On this track we discussed an introduction to road rage and discussed myths that Anger Management clients have connected to road rage.  Some topics of road rage we discussed were: the escalation of rage; and the internal process.  The myths we discussed included the myths that connected road rage to the following:  temperature; character; and sex.

On the next track, we will examine four beliefs and how they relate to Anger Management clients: making good time; being number one; not letting the other driver get away with it; and certain drivers should not be allowed on the road.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Brewster, S. E., Elliott, M. A., McCartan, R., McGregor, B., & Kelly, S. W. (2016). Conditional or unconditional? The effects of implementation intentions on driver behavior. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 22(1), 124–133.

Sundström, A. (2011). Using the rating scale model to examine the psychometric properties of the Self-Efficacy Scale for Driver Competence.European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 27(3), 164–170. 

Wickens, C. M., Wiesenthal, D. L., Flora, D. B., & Flett, G. L. (2011). Understanding driver anger and aggression: Attributional theory in the driving environment. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 17(4), 354–370.

What are three myths many Anger Management clients have about road rage? To select and enter your answer go to Test.

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