Road Rage: Its not the other driver…its just Natural

by | Traveling

“Big Sky Country” is a typical phrase when describing the vast fields of Montana and the Midwest USA. “Big Sky” literally because you can see very far because of the unobstructed  view of the vast plains and the fact that very little human things exist there. The typical population density in a region such as Montana is 6.8 people per square smile. Contrast that to Tokyo which is 11,300 people/square  mile and the densest city in the world which is Dhaka, Bangladesh at 115,000 people/square mile.  This large difference in population density gives rise directly to the large variation in perceived “personal space” in different regions of the world. It is not uncommon to see Montana people shake hands be extending their hand very far whereas in the Tokyo, it is not uncommon to be toe-to-toe when in a subway and no one is bothered.

Humans have an innate feeling of comfort or discomfort when standing near someone. This is built on a foundation of their familiarity of living in densely populated areas and our feeling of security with that person. Thus when strangers come into our “personal space” it always triggers some sort of natural alarm…the exact distance being  a variable when the alarm is triggered. If and when the alarm is triggered though, it can make us very irritable depending upon the bodily signals of aggression or non-aggression of the other person.

This same concept holds when people are driving their car…but in this case the personal space of the person now extend around the car. While stationary, a car can occupy 350 square feet but when driving 30 miles/hour and being 3 car lengths apart, the car is essentially occupying almost 1000 square feet. This 1000 square feet is now the “personal space” of the person and anyone who enters that space triggers are innate personal alarm of safety.  Unlike being near a stranger where you can pick up bodily queues and signals whether that person is really going to harm you,  the problem with cars is that no such queues exist. With no signals to mediate whether the action was aggressive or not, people are naturally inclined to prepare for the worst and “road rage” occurs.

Because of the very nature of driving a car, irritation and discomfort is just going to happen. Of course, this all leads to potential safety concerns not only for other people on the road but also for the driver. RideSharing has the potential to impact these behaviors in a positive way by getting drivers off the road into other vehicles and allowing the driver of the RideShare to  have a social experience with the passenger. Its a win-win for safety.

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