Sunday, June 11, 2006

Road Rage 'Disease'

Who wants to bet that some road-raging motorist will end up in court after killing or maiming someone, and claim that he's not really at fault because he has a disease? Maybe I could try to convince a judge that I was just cleaning my fingernails when my fist went off by accident, slamming into some fool's nose.

Excerpts from the Tulsa World:

Road rage isn't a disease, it's a state of mind

WASHINGTON -- "Road rage" is now an official disease -- Intermittent Explosive Disorder, the shrinks call it.

According to a study funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health, something on the order of 16 million Americans suffer from IED. Inadequate production of the brain chemical serotonin leaves victims unable to regulate their moods properly -- and thus, their behavior on the nation's crowded highways.

But is IED really a malady? Or just the natural expression of a heavily overtaxed fight-or-flight mechanism that has been intrinsic to human nature since time immemorial?

...The chaos, the unremitting noise, the slow boil of constant pressure with no escape valve and the flood of stress hormones that rush into our bloodstream are natural responses a relentless stream of stressful situations.

...It's ugly and unpleasant -- but it's the reality. Being quiet and polite is not only increasingly difficult, it's apt to leave one holding the short end of the stick -- constantly abused by more aggressive motorists with a passion for self-preservation.

That's not a disease. It's an entirely predictable reaction to an unnatural situation.

Sitting in traffic for a couple of hours every day is madness.

...We don't need a pill. We need to recognize a dangerous and unhealthy situation for what it is -- and take steps to ameliorate it. That would include encouraging people to live closer to where they work and governments and businesses to expand telecommuting opportunities instead of herding workers into some distant suburbs through short-sighted land policies.

Failing that, subscribe to satellite radio, gets some books on tape -- whatever it takes to get your mind and your glands off the galling prospect of another daily grind. Your blood pressure will thank you. And you might just avoid a fender-bender, a fist-fight -- or worse.

American motorists don't need a pill or therapy on a psychiatrist's couch. If the federal experts really want to curb road rage they should put policies in place that address the underlying causes rather than label the victims sufferers so-called "Intermittent Explosive Disorder."

Disease-ifying the frustrations of drivers idling their lives away on clogged commuter roads will do nothing to solve the real problems.

Eric Peters is a columnist for The Army Times, The Navy Times and Readers may write to him at 721 Hummingbird Lane, Copper Hill, Va. 24079.


Blogger Paul Tay said...

Dat's why I think a Santa suit should be da new d'rigor attire for driving, both cars and bikes.

It's very difficult to go off da handle when yer impersonating Santa. Merry Christmas!!!

2:45 PM  

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