Some comments on the definition of aggression and aggressive driving behaviour

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Truls Vaa

Aggression in traffic, aggressive driver behaviour and its association withroad accidents has definitely been put on the agenda in the recent.Considering these reports, however, some problems arise concerning thedefinition of aggression and aggressive driving behaviour. One question is towhat extent the definitions used are satisfactory in the understanding andstudy of aggressive driver behaviour. It is also difficult to give advice tothe police on what types of traffic behaviour they should address in theirenforcement efforts. European drivers do, however, admit that they engage inclose following, tailgating and chasing of other drivers. Considering theliterature on aggressive behaviour in traffic, it becomes quite clear thatthere are major differences between the USA and European countries,concerning what is regarded as the problem of aggressive incidents. While theUSA have been afflicted by shoot-outs and killings of drivers in the roadtraffic system for quite some time, such episodes seem quite rare in Europe,although some incidents are known in recent years. Judged from the reportsthe 'European problem' with aggressive driving behaviour seem to be moredirected towards less severe levels of aggression and violence. On the otherhand, no European data collection system or data base are known that recordsaggressive driving behaviour, or incidents of 'road rage'.

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