Bad Driving Explained

I was inspired to address this subject by a question someone asked me last night: Why are there so many rude drivers? You probably thought that some people were just selfish and/or stupid.

You were partly right. Since this is a sociology blog so I feel compelled to come up with a few sociological observations.

Several social forces are at work, or not, in the case of rude drivers. Consider the low standard that so many drivers set for us. Its easy to say that I’m not as bad as that chick who cut me off while talking on a cel phone and drinking coffee. Bad drivers seldom experience any negative consequences for their behavior. Sure, they get tickets sometimes. Sometimes bad drivers and the just plain rude drivers get in accidents. Do they take responsibility for themselves? Not always. Nope. It is easy to blame to the "stupid cops" for punishing aggressive drivers to whom natural selection has bequethed control of the roads. Easier still is blaming dumb luck or bad road conditions for your accident.

An unwillingness to own up to one’s responsibilities is party psychological and perhaps partly cultural. Conservatives love to complain about how American culture encourages people to blame everyone else for everything. Maybe the conservatives have a point there. Or maybe not.

Getting back to the consequences of bad driving behavior brings up an idea. People seldom get in trouble for being rude or aggressive. Maybe that can change? A honking horn or an obscene gesture aren’t going to make an impact. Playing Mad Max with a really rude drive is definitely not a good idea. We need new and informal ways to sanction bad drivers and make them behave. We need something that doesn’t require the police to be involved, is not dangerous, is legal, and will make a real impression. Horns and ramming are defnitely out! Cursing and making obscene gestures can get you in trouble, or have no effect whatever.

Any ideas?

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~ by chetdavis on September 14, 2006.

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