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East Midlands Chamber News

On-the-spot fines for middle lane hogs and tailgaters

road rage by randychiu cc flickr.comAs the government announced plans to give police powers to fine people on the spot for middle lane driving and tailgating on motorways, anger management mentor Julian Hall has blogged that climbing behind the wheel of a car can turn even the most mild mannered person into a thug.

But he says fear may be the trigger that brings out the aggression.

"A lot of people find driving stressful and the underlying feeling promoting that stress is fear," he wrote.

"We may be scared of being late, we may be worrying about other drivers or concerned we may get lost. Whatever it is, if we are stressed by driving there is a fear of some sort at its core."

He said that the pent emotion of fear causes the processing unit in our brain to be primed to a point where it is oversensitive and triggered by even the smallest things, sparking our fight or flight reflex.

"We cover up fear, hurt and sadness with anger," he wrote.

"When someone refuses to let you out of a side road on to a busy main road and you have an emotional reaction is that really anger, or is it hurt because people are not paying attention to you or is it fear that if people don’t let you out you may be late?

"When another driver cuts you up and you react emotionally, is this really anger or are you covering up the fact that what just happened really scared you?"

He said another reason for anger at the wheel was the perception of the car as an extension of the driver's ego.

Our cars advertise to the world who we are, he said, and none of us like having our space invaded or our property damaged so we react angrily, or fearfully, when people get too close or we perceive them to be threatening us.

The third element causing anger is poor planning. We leave home too late to get to work on time so we drive faster and more aggressively and then get stuck behind someone who is not late and is obeying the law of the road and our response is anger born of frustration and fear.

"I hate being late and I don’t like to arrive too early. So my journey’s can often be finely balanced affairs. As soon as I experience delays such as traffic or road works my anxieties (fear) all rise to the surface.

"Of course, when I am emotionally reacting I find it difficult to articulate that it is 'because I am late and I should take full responsibility for my poor planning'. Instead I project anger on to the driver of the car in front who just happens to be in the correct lane, doing the correct speed," said Julian, of CalmPeople, Derby and a founder of DNCC affiliate Derby Hub.

"How can you stop these outbursts on the road?" he asked.

He answered: "Working out whether you are actually hurt or scared rather than angry can help. It has a dual effect of helping you start to express feelings in a healthy way and also makes you stop and think a little before reacting.

"That said, at 40 miles and hour, in busy traffic, working your way through all the above is not easy. That’s why we reduced it to a few tips.

"Ask yourself: If I wasn’t in this situation what would I see? Will this matter in 3 months time? Is this really directed at me? "

"Using this technique will help you.

"On the other hand, if the issues described above are regular for you, maybe you want to have a more in-depth chat with CalmPeople."