Professor: Road rage often reflects what is happening in a driver’s life

Jun 6, 2023, 12:46 PM | Updated: 1:54 pm

LAYTON, UtahInvestigators are working on leads to find the driver of a motorcycle who fired a gun on Interstate 15 and shot another driver Monday afternoon in Davis County, near the Layton Hills mall area.

A university researcher said often the way people drive recklessly is a reflection of what is going on in their lives. Tim Smith, a professor of psychology with the University of Utah, said a lot of his research is in the unhealthy effects of anger.

Often, he said when people get angry, they need a place to clear their head. For some, that means jumping in the car to go for a drive, which Smith said is not what you want to do in the heat of the moment.

“There’s an old saying about anger which is, ‘It’s drinking the poison hoping the other person dies.’ You do much more harm to yourself if you let yourself get angry,” Smith said. He said road rage is almost always the rapid build up of minor conflict that plays out on the highway.

“What makes it really dangerous is you’re driving a one ton or heavier vehicle at high speed potentially, so you can hurt yourself or someone else.”

There were two potential road rage ridden incidents in 24 hours on Utah roads. One happened over the weekend in Utah County, where two people not involved with the confrontation lost their lives on the road.

Victims killed in Utah County road rage-caused collision identified

The other was in Layton, where a motorcyclist shot and hit a silver car, injuring the driver while riding down the highway on Monday. Both incidents are more than enough sign to pump the brakes.

“Obviously, these things are becoming more and more common,” Utah Highway Patrol’s Sgt. Rick Shrader said.

1 shot, injured by motorcyclist in possible road rage incident on I-15, troopers say

Smith said road rage may come at a higher cost nowadays, too, with people willing to act out violently.

“If it’s something that escalated rapidly, it has a higher ceiling for harm than it used to do,” Smith said. He said the best thing you can do if you’re angry is put down the keys.

“If you are in an angry state, much healthier to go for a walk… It has all of the benefits, sort of burning up some of that negative energy you have when you’re angry, so put your sneakers on rather than grabbing the car key,” Smith said.

Utah Highway Patrol said the person in the car who was injured is in stable condition and does not appear to be in life threatening condition.

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Professor: Road rage often reflects what is happening in a driver’s life