What Causes Road Rage?

Neal Pollard
Yesterday’s local news included the report of two vehicles, a minivan and mid-size pickup truck, whose drivers became embroiled in an alleged road rage incident.  Before it was over, the truck flipped over and three children had to be hospitalized.  Such incidents produce mixed reactions in most of us–anger and indignation at such recklessness, but also perhaps a modicum of guilt and shame.  Have you ever had your temperature rise over another motorist texting or otherwise distracted with a phone while driving, going under the speed limit in the fast lane, seemingly camping out under a green light, cutting you off in traffic, or otherwise violating the road rules of courtesy? Too many of these incidents have famously ended in death because the rage grew so severe.

What produces a more dramatic, heightened response, typified by “road ragers”?
Certainly, it can be stress.  Speed, stop and go, and just commuting is certainly anxiety-producing. It might also be the tendency to dehumanize or objectify the other drivers from within the safety of our metal (plastic?) boxes.  But, so often, it begins because of one’s inability to properly handle their own anger.  In other words, it is so often simply a shortage of self-control.

Perhaps we all need reminded of God’s thoughts on the matter.  “A fool’s anger is known at once” (Prov. 12:16a). “He who is quick-tempered exalts folly” (Prov. 14:29b). “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife” (Prov. 15:18a). “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city” (Prov. 16:32). “A man of great anger will bear the penalty, for if you rescue him, you will only have to do it again” (Prov. 19:19). “Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood” (Prov. 27:4a). “Anger resides in the bosom of a fool” (Ecc. 7:9). Outbursts of anger are a work of the flesh (Gal. 5:20). “The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (Jas. 1:20).  Much more is said, but we get the point.

The principle applies to more than operating a motor vehicle.  God feels the same about all sinful anger.  It does not matter what provokes us or is bothering us.  He expects us to master self with its potential evil deeds.  In a word, we cause our own rage.  Let’s kill such danger by rooting it from our hearts.

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