WHEN I read about a QUT study into driver etiquette and aggression this week, I was reminded of an incident from a few years back.
Picture this: Person A is driving about 100kmh down the Ipswich Motorway at Goodna - he's towing a trailer so he is keeping to the left lane.
Meanwhile person B, who happens to be a bit of an older bloke, is only getting up to about 90kmh as he merges at the same point of the highway.
If he were a bit younger, Person B would have looked over his shoulder as he was coming up to the merge, but being an old codger, he can't twist his head that far.
As he comes onto the highway, he realises Person A is right beside him, but merges anyway, hoping the bloke with the trailer will back off and let him in.
What he doesn't count on is Person A being a bit of an ignorant sod. Instead of easing off the gas, Person A keeps driving at the same speed, swerving violently as Person B merges, nonchalently, into his lane.
Person A is now furious with this old coot. He gets into the right lane, overtakes him until his trailer is lined up with Person A's car, then merges back into the left lane, forcing the old fella to swerve over onto the shoulder to avoid a nice dint from the wayward trailer of Person A.
I witnessed this dingbat behaviour one day while driving home from a fishing trip - but you can probably relate to it just as well from your own experience.
As far as I can tell, this sort of thing goes on all the time. Every now and then it will deteriorate into both parties stopping for a bit of fisticuffs.
It seems the busier the roads get, the more people's competitive instincts come out.
As the above example shows, all it takes for things to escalate is a bit of clumsy driving, combined with some hot-headed nut job who takes another person's mistake as a personal insult.
Staying cool behind the wheel is much easier said than done, but these days there's not much of a choice.Sometimes there are just too many cars on the road to expect everything to go your way.
At some point you will be cut off, held up, tailgated or given the hurry-up by a hairy, beer-gutted loon in a 50-tonne truck.
There are some awful drivers out there - but truth be told we've all done dumb stuff from time to time.
Before I get too angry at someone else's annoying driving habits, I try to remember all those times when I've probably annoyed people in the same way, and not been beeped at, given the middle finger or abused.
It's important to be forgiving behind the wheel, because you don't know anything about the person in that other car, or what sort of blunt objects they have stashed under the seat.
Now back to this study: All the studies into the causes of road rage will probably come back to the same few themes, but nothing will really change until humans stop being so bloody violent towards each other.