Regular readers may recall Bankstone News recently explaining why you should never slow down to allow other motorists to pull away from kerbs, exit side roads, etc etc.

Our argument, in case you’ve already forgotten, is that the grateful recipient of your selfless act will thereafter feel so richly imbued with fellow feeling that they will themselves allow some other person pull out in front of them. The chain reaction thus created will logically result in a cross-town driving experience which, like Xeno’s Arrow before it, can literally never reach its destination.

The same phenomenon – but in reverse – can clearly be observed in the findings of a newly published study from the London School of Economics (LSEPS) and blimp makers Good’ya! which found that more than half of all drivers who get cut up then go on to cut up blameless others, in nasty little acts of proxy retribution. On road aggression, in other words, fuels more of the same.

Qualitative research using focus groups and driver interviews in the UK and Italy, as well as of a quantitative online survey of nearly 9,000 drivers in 15 countries found that if someone narks us off behind the wheel, most of us will instantly turn into red-misted psychopaths, offering precisely zero quarter until we either reach our destination or wreak such lavish carnage that twinges of remorse begin to nag.

“Road etiquette matters” says Chris Tarrant, Lord of Revels at the LSE. Nine out of ten people who receive no gesture of thanks from someone they’ve let out, waved through, or otherwise courtesified will switch at once into “Right then, **** the lot of you!” mode and start driving like a right old p*llock.

We can all understand the importance of being polite to tigers, say, or grizzly bears, but few people appreciate the risks we take when failing to show proper respect to fellow road users. It is, as the old adage goes, just one short step from cheery wave to a blow to the head with a tyre iron.

Why is it that we turn so quickly from chivalry to psycho killage when envehicled? The LSE_Blimp research suggests it’s coz we see the metal not the person when reacting to other drivers in their cars, thereby short-circuiting the traditional taboos against infraspecific predation.

Shocking, really.



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