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Good Drivers Turn Bad: Study Finds Rude Motorists Corrupt Nice Ones

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Photo: John Greenfeld via CC

You might think you’re a saint behind the wheel–and that may be true when you first buckle your seatbelt–but once you’re faced with a devilish driver on the road, you’ll quickly turn into a similarly rude person.

Researchers at QUT’s Centre for Accident Research & Roadside Safety in Queensland found that many motorists believe their own driving performance is good and thus expect fellow drivers to follow suit. However, when fellow motorists don’t follow the same practices, these “good” drivers are quick to become irate–and react with frustration.

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Actions by rude drivers such as poor merging and tailgating often irritated good drivers, who responded in turn with flashing their lights and honking their horn. These actions were identified as attempts by good drivers to alert rude ones that they acted poorly and should know it.

“It’s a contradiction. Good drivers are using rude and unpleasant bad behaviour to teach other drivers how to be better drivers,” explained Lauren Shaw, who lead the study. “All this does to the driver on the receiving end of the aggressive act is reinforce their own belief that the behaviour of other drivers is bad.”

What we can learn from this study is that letting yourself get carried away by annoyance behind the wheel will only make other motors more rude to you. Next time, take a deep breath instead.

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