A Queensland University of Technology study has examined what frustrates drivers. Photo: Supplied
A new study into drivers’ behaviour has found it is the little things that count, with a lack of driver etiquette behind most examples of motorists’ aggression.
The study, by the Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland, collated the experience of 209 south-east Queensland drivers over a week-long period.
CARRS-Q researcher Lauren Shaw said violations of “driving etiquette” were the main source of frustration for Queensland motorists, rather than dangerous or illegal driving by others.
Two commuters square off in busy traffic.
Breaches of etiquette included pushing in, failing to let someone merge, cutting someone off and unnecessarily slow driving.
And while road rage was an extreme by-product of drivers’ frustration, Ms Shaw said that was not a focus of the CARRS-Q study.
“We were focused more on the minor things that can lead to major confrontations,” she said.
Ms Shaw said that meant etiquette needed to be taught along with the basics of driving, such as mechanical processes and road rules.
“People appeared to me more angered or frustrated by things that they thought were rude or inconsiderate, rather than behaviours that were dangerous,” she said.
“That all comes down to driver etiquette, when people behave rudely on the road.”
There was a knowledge gap in the triggers of drivers’ aggression, Ms Shaw said, that needed additional research.
Ms Shaw said her next stage of research would look at the psychological factors involved when driving.
“We know that driver aggression happens and people tend to get angry when they drive, but aside from that we don’t know much about it,” she said.
“So we were trying to look at what types of things make people angry when they drive and, more importantly, their thought processes – what they’re thinking about when something happens that makes them angry and how that can influence how they respond to it.”
Ms Shaw said QUT’s study so far had identified two responses to poor etiquette displayed by other drivers.
“There were those who did respond aggressively who said they did that to try to teach the other driver a lesson and modify someone else’s behaviour,” she said.
“Then there were those that, even though they were really angry and sometimes reported that they wanted to (react), didn’t because they felt that would make them a lesser person and they would be just as bad as someone who did something rude.
“So by trying to look more at the personality characteristics and how they influence how you perceive events on the road, we may be able to pinpoint how you will respond.”
The stage of study consists of a 40-minute online survey, with a $20 voucher incentive, for Queensland drivers 18 years and over.
To register, follow this link: http://survey.qut.edu.au/f/179100/30bf/