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Where has all the aggression come from?

Diane Hall


Young female driver experiencing road rage

Since Covid came on the scene, I’ve noticed numerous examples of selfishness and aggression in others. The toilet roll debacle was one and the current fuel ‘crisis’ is another. I feel, in general, it’s like everyone’s permanently on edge—like they’re on standby, so to speak, ready for the next argument to kick off, or for the next situation in which they’ve to defend themselves.

Perhaps the most significant observation is that no one seems to have any patience on the roads anymore. It’s absolutely true that some people have never had this ability, but the proportion of aggressive drivers seems to have escalated dramatically.

It’s bad enough when I’m behind the wheel, but this weekend I was out with my daughter, who passed her test a couple of months ago. It was simply staggering how many people cut her up and pulled out in front of her (she doesn’t even use ‘just-passed plates’ to alert them of her new-driver status; she said these make the situation ten times worse!).

Given that she hasn’t been driving alone for long, and following a couple of scenarios she was unsure about as she gets used to the road, we’ve heavily impressed on her that she should ignore any driver behind her when stopping at junctions and roundabouts…that she should only move forward/commit when she’s happy it’s safe to do so.

On Saturday, as I took it easy in the back of her car, she drove in relatively busy traffic towards two small roundabouts that are situated practically on top of each other. At the first roundabout, she encountered the scenario that can sometimes happen—where all three exits were filled at the same time and all three drivers look at each other to see who’s going to go first, as they all have equal right of way and priority. It was a situation quickly sorted and she spent a grand total of three additional seconds than normal. This was obviously too long for the impatient male driver behind her and he pumped his horn for those three seconds. Still behind her ten yards on at the next roundabout, he didn’t even give her chance to make a decision before he was on his horn again.

Man in suit screaming and gesturing whilst in car

Man in suit screaming and gesturing whilst in car

Had she been driving a Range Rover and not a Toyota Yaris, would that guy have done the same, or did he assume (quite rightly) that the car was being driven by a young woman and therefore feel confident that he could frighten and bully her? I’d loved to have had a 7-foot male rugby player in the car with us, as I’d have asked my daughter to block the road so my burly pal could get out and ask the guy what the hell his problem was.

It’s like when you’re shopping for a particular brand of car—once they’re in your subconscious you see them wherever you go, where otherwise you’d be oblivious to them. Because I’ve become attuned to examples of aggressive driving over recent months means I see them on every single journey. That is not an exaggeration. I’d prefer not to bash men here, but 95% of the time, the aggression is from a solitary male at the wheel; they don’t display the same behaviour if they have their wife and kids in the car. And not necessarily boy racers, either—the vast majority are aged between 30 and 45.

Why is their time more important than everyone else’s? Are they all heart surgeons racing to operate on dying patients? What makes them see red mist when we’re all trying to get somewhere, and why have they so little empathy for young drivers who are still trying to gain their confidence on the road?

My daughter is not a bad driver—the fact she passed her test is relative proof of that. However, and as with every single driverbefore her, she is now undergoing her real practical training. Because NO test or number of lessons can prepare you for every eventuality on the road, and as someone now allowed to drive unaccompanied, she has to meet every one of these brand-new scenarios alone and judge how best to overcome them. And she won’t acquire this knowledge easily if some asshole is beeping their horn at her because she’s hesitated for a whole three seconds.

I’m glad to say that, when there was the opportunity for him to pass her (we took a different lane to turn off), and when he slowed to give her an angry look, she flipped him her middle finger.

Her driving instructor may have taught her how to drive, but I taught her how to deal with misogynistic, aggressive, pathetic s*itheads.

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