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  The Psychology of Parking Rage:
Threestep Program For Prevention

 

by Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl

Parking rage is very common. Most drivers experience anger and frustration in busy parking lots on busy days at busy times. This frustration and anger needs to be dealt with, or else it comes out into the open as a hostile or aggressive act. Once you express anger or hostility towards others, you have lost control of the situation because you never know how the other is going to react. If you don't express your anger you retain control over the situation.

Parking lot fights are territoriality disputes, turf wars, or power struggles, and are carried out as symbolic fights that arouses our pride, stubbornness, and negative stereotypes. There is a general lack of civility in public places along with a cultural "in-the-face" attitude that goes with a sense of entitlement to do as we please and to retaliate when we're displeased. People use various words to describe what happens to a car parked next to another car: the car was dinged, banged, bumped, gouged, nicked, scratched, keyed, and others.

We can all reduce our stress and aggressive reactions by following the threestep program we describe in our book: Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering Clear of Highway Warfare.

Step1: Acknowledge

This is the hardest step. We need to come clean and confess that we are aggressive on parking lots and our emotions are out of control. Even our thinking needs to get more emotionally intelligent. People resist this first step out of pride, stubbornness, and a sense of entitlement of doing what we please in public places.

Step 2: Witness

Be a Witness to yourself. Self-witnessing of your emotions, thoughts, and behavior are essential so that you can get to know yourself objectively and not rely on the reputation you have of yourself--which tends to be superlative since we are excellent drivers ourselves but it's the other driver who is incompetent. By monitoring your thoughts and feelings while you are in a parking lot or some other venue where people park, like the street in front of someone's house.

After witnessing yourself you have an accurate idea of what ticks you off, when you get frustrated or angry, how you retaliate, what you think, how you reason, how you behave, what you do with your face and hands, what your mouth is saying.

Step 3: Modify

One baby step at a time. For each parking episode decide in advance what you're going to modify on that occasion--whether some way you act or some thought or emotion you experience. Consciously switch from an angry response to a supportive response. Think of parking as a community activity in which all involved can participate together positively and with mutual support.

Try different things, especially, giving up the compulsion to park as near as possible in the most overcrowded areas. What's wrong with walking for 60 seconds? Disconnect your ego and pride from it. Be conscious of the "Law of Least Effort" that gets people to circle around for 15 minutes instead of park further and walk for 2 minutes.

Keep a Parking Diary in which you take notes about your progress and your lapses.

From our book: Road Rage and Aggressive Driving

Two researchers at Penn State university observed people in a shopping mall parking lot as they were leaving. They noticed that departing drivers (both men and women) took eleven seconds longer to vacate their spot when someone else was waiting for the space than when no one was there. Even the implication of "pressure" by just waiting can evoke resistance. Instead of hurrying up, they tend to take longer. This power-based behavior is counterproductive because it takes longer for them to leave and engenders hostile reactions. So why do people do it? They investigated the issue further by sending in cars driven by a student who honked at the departing driver. Drivers who were honked at took even longer to depart than drivers who were not honked at. The researchers attribute this "territorial behavior" to people's desire to proclaim rightful occupancy of a space. When this right is questioned by a hostile honking motorist the tendency is to reaffirm rightful ownership, and this is accomplished by taking even longer to vacate the place because the power struggle is the focus. (See: Territorial Defense in Parking Lots: Retaliation Against Waiting Drivers, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 27, No. 9, May 1998 issue.)

Passive-aggressive road ragers can also be pedestrians, cyclists, and passengers:

She always bugged me whenever I gave her a ride home up the hill. It's a winding road with lots of switchbacks, and she'd always brace herself by slamming her hand on the dashboard at every turn, as if she would fall over. Why couldn't she just hold the door handle like everyone else? Why does she have to make a scene on every turn? I couldn't stand driving her because of that. She never said anything, and neither did I, but I silently resented her during our rides, so I wasn't really outwardly nice either, I just acted like I was in a bad mood. (Young woman)

Putting on a bad mood to protest a passenger's reaction is also a form of passive-aggressive road rage that has long term consequences for physical and mental health.

Checklist: Your Passive Aggressive Road Rage Tendency

Check each example of passive resistance that pertains to you.

 1. ___ I insist on driving at speed limit in the passing lane because it's the law so it's safer

 2. ___ I hold up a long line of drivers on a one-lane road

 3. ___ I ignore drivers who attempt to enter my lane, closing the gap

 4. ___ I ignore yield signs

 5. ___ I don't bother giving proper signals

 6. ___ I am slow to get going when traffic lights turn green

 7. ___ I show insufficient alertness or consideration to drivers and conditions

 8. ___ I repeatedly tap the brakes or slow way down to retaliate against a tailgater

 9. ___ I take my time entering and leaving parking spaces, especially when someone is waiting for me

10. ___ I make gestures and facial expressions to myself to show my disapproval of pushy drivers

(...)

Even a simple trip to the shopping mall can be upsetting when one is emotionally unprepared to handle crowded conditions:

On a Saturday afternoon during a sale at the mall, I arrived at the parking structure. Glancing at all the cars circling round and round looking for parking made me cringe. I knew I was doomed. As usual, I started off in my calm, cool, and collective manner. However, after circling around 15 times looking for parking, my blood pressure began to rise.

            After circling a few more times, my patience ran very thin and once again I became angry and hostile. I felt like eliminating all the people in sight. I kept thinking: "Why does everyone have to shop at this mall at this particular time?" It frustrated me that I couldn't start shopping until my car was properly parked, but there were no spaces available. Every time I saw people walking to their car, it was located behind me. Or else they would just drop off their packages and head back for another round of purchasing. My two famous quotes for the occasion: "This is CRAZY!" and "I hate these people!" I was wasting my time looking for parking space when in fact I could've been looking for a nice pair of jeans.

She's obsessed by the idea that she's wasting time finding a parking space rather than making purchases. Unfortunately, her mind has set up a no-win situation that is torturous. She separated the act of the purchase from the act of parking and this illogical distinction only allowed her to torment herself. Verbal road rage seldom works to achieve goals and increases strife.

(...)

Aggressive Competitor

Competition is seen as a good thing in America, but lethal and dangerous on the road, taking others' lives into hands, risking others and self. Some drivers are so competitive that they need to be in the lead at all times, and feel a sense of loss and rising anxiety if another car passes them. There are those who, when they make a mistake, are deeply embarrassed and worry about what other drivers might think. But when other drivers make a mistake, it's their turn to ridicule them. We do this automatically, by cultural habit and childhood upbringing. Getting a parking space brings a sense of victory and superiority, while missing one leaves can leave us with a sharp sense of personal defeat. It's not unusual for someone to get depressed over losing a parking space to a competitor shopper. But we pay a high price for this type of gaming. Compulsive competitiveness is an ego-centered orientation that shreds everyone's nerves and by provoking a simplistic game of winners and losers, it contributes significantly to driver rage.

(...)

Inner Power Tool: Acting As-If

Oppositional Driving Style

When you say or think this:

Supportive Driving Style

Say or think this immediately after:

Nope, you can't come in here. We're all in a hurry, not just you. You'll just have to wait.

We're all in a hurry, but there's room for one more. Go ahead, be my guest. Sorry I can't let the whole line in.

Look at that fool. Forgets to turn off the signal for miles. Where is his head anyway?

Oops, there's a booboo. You gotta stay alert when you drive. Hope it won't cause an accident.

Oh, great! Just what I wanted to do, sit in traffic and crawl inch by inch. Come on air head, the light is green. Move, go, go!

Slow today. Well, I can fidget or I can relax. Either way I'll get there the same time. Might as well cruise. How about some relaxing music?

Hurry up, idiot. Stop holding up traffic like that. I'm going to honk at him.

I feel like honking but it's not worth the trouble. Besides, honking might slow him down even more or startle him and cause a crash.

I'm going to make that light. Come on, come on, get out of my way. Turning yellow...I can still make it if I step on it.

All right, I'm not gonna make this one. Slowing down gently. I can relax for a few moments.

No way are you taking that parking place. What, are you serious? I've been waiting here. It's mine! Hey, bonehead, stop that. Stop! Hey!

Now that's not fair. I've been waiting here. Oh, well, it's not worth a fight. Don't be rude to the rude. Besides, it's possible she didn't see me. I'll get one soon. There's always someone leaving.

(...)

Road Rage Nursery

Road rage is a feeling of hostility that is inherited through the culture of disrespect condoned on highways. Motorists don't try to hide it because they are often proud of their aggressiveness, so it's common for children to hear parents and other adults swearing and demeaning other drivers:

While backing out of the parking space I heard a screech and felt a little bump when a woman and little girl in a Camaro appeared in my rearview. We all got out and I apologized, though I knew full well that she had been far away and had sped up to try to out run me, instead of waiting for me to leave the space. I felt miserable when her little girl started screaming at me, obviously repeating what she had heard her mother say about me in the car to excuse her own dangerous behavior, "Stupid lady! She's a stupid lady mommy! Why don't you watch where you're going stupid lady? You have to pay for this stupid lady!"

Kids do whatever their parents do, they say the things they hear older kids and adults saying, and their emotional reactions are shaped by mimicking adult feelings. Children soak up the norms of behavior in their environment, and that's how the road rage tradition is passed on to the next generation.

The above is from:  Road Rage and Aggressive Driving

 

 

Road Construction Rage -- see news stories here.

 


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18 March 1999

Parking rage sets neighbors at war

By Philip Thornton, Transport Correspondent

The stress of using an overcrowded and underfunded transport network has spawned another modern social phenomenon - parking rage.

More than eight in 10 motorists admit they see red when they find a car parked across their driveways, according to a survey published yesterday. The same number would insist that a neighbor who blocked their entrance shift the offending vehicle immediately.

Autoglass, the windscreen repair company that carried out the survey, found that men were more likely than women to retaliate for bad parking, call the police or escalate the dispute.

"Neighbors are at war over parking. The tensions of everyday motoring have spread to the driveway," said a spokeswoman.

"People display very territorial attitudes to their personal parking space, using traffic cones and rubbish bins to reserve a space. The risk of a row arises when there isn't a real need to move a car and the dispute becomes a matter of pride."

Parking rage is the latest expression of frustration at modern life. It follows air, road, trolley and even tram rage.

original here

 

Road rage hits NYC parking lot

father of eight dies

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- A father of eight died after he was punched in the face after he stopped a driver from using a Times Square parking lot as a shortcut, police said. The driver entered the 42nd Street lot about 5 p.m. Monday in a bid to reach 43rd Street, witnesses said. The lot's manager, Methis Weingarten, 47, ran out to stop him.

The driver, about 6 feet tall and 250 pounds, backed out of the lot, parked and returned on foot to strike Weingarten in the face, witnesses said. At 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, Weingarten fell and hit the concrete floor. His attacker drove off.

Weingarten was pronounced dead two hours later at St. Vincent's Hospital and Medical Center. An autopsy revealed a bruised and hemorrhaged brain and a fractured skull.

The death was ruled a homicide. Police were looking for the driver.

Weingarten, of Brooklyn, was buried Tuesday. Surviving are his wife, and six sons and two daughters, ages 5 to 21.

original here

 

Forget road rage:

California town fights SUV parking peeves

Touching the lines can be worth a $30 ticket

August 17, 1999


From Correspondent Don Knapp

PALO ALTO, California (CNN) -- Instead of road rage, authorities in one California town are dealing with parking peeves, cracking down on sport utility vehicles that residents say crowd out automobiles from nearby parking spots.

"I think SUVs are just way too big for everything, including the freeways," fumes Callie Gregory. "I get scared driving down the road, but I especially hate to see them crammed into small parking spaces."

(...)


This policewoman says that as long as there is a significant amount of space between each vehicle she will not cite them \

But Palo Alto has clamped down for reasons besides safety or the environment. Police in the upscale suburb of San Francisco are ticketing cars that poke over into the neighboring parking space.

"If you're barely touching those lines, you're probably over six-feet wide, and that's probably worth a $30 ticket," says officer Jim Coffman.

(...).

"Yeah, that is a good thing, because they open their door and crash the paint on your car," she says.

One parking enforcement officer assures that her department will not enforce the rule too zealously.

"If we feel there's a significant amount of space between each vehicle, then again, we may not cite it. There's some discretion," says Anita Henley, working her rounds and placing tickets on vehicles in violation.

(...)

 

January 23, 1997 Detroit Free Press

Rebels with a cause rage against parking meters, destroying many

By John Lang / Scripps Howard News Service

WASHINGTON -- (...)

First the homeless took up cudgels, then street gangs. Vandals saw an opportunity and joined. Next came many of Washington's celebrated, dark-suited, pasty-faced, briefcase-armed guardians of the bureaucracies. After that, the lawless suburbanites. The objects of their rage: parking meters.

The District of Columbia has 15,777 parking meters, almost enough for every lawyer. But more than 2,000 have had their heads chopped off. Often the decapitated trunks stretch entire city blocks. D.C. police say the meters are being destroyed by homeless people with baseball bats, or gang members with sledgehammers, so they can grab the quarters.

Otherwise lawful residents, too, are jamming foreign objects into the coin slots and then sticking in notes advising that the meters are now out of order. Some commuters have taken to painting the meter windows so ticketing officers can't see if the time has expired. It's costing $3 million a year in missed nickel-and-dimming.

(...)

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Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 11:08:21 -1000

From: Allan <allan@hotmail.com>
To: DrDriving@DrDriving.org
Subject: Article research

Dear Dr. James,

My name is Allan Stein, and I am the editor and content manager of Culturenotes.com, a website on cultural affairs published throught he Webseed Publishing Network.

We are currently doing article research on the phenomenon of parking lot rage and how it is becoming as pervasive and dangerous as road rage. Your thoughts on the following questions will be greatly appreciated: What is the clinical definition of parking lot rage? Why does it happen, who is most susceptible to it psychologically, and how can it be prevented? Does parking lot rage signify a coarsening of attitudes and an erosion of public etiquette?

Thank you very much for your time and comments, which will be directly sourced in the upcoming article.

Sincerely,
Allan Stein
Content Manager,
Culturenotes
www.culturenotes.com
 

Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 13:00:42 -1000
From: Leon James <leon@hawaii.edu>
To: Allan <allan@hotmail.com>
Cc: DrDriving@DrDriving.org
Subject: Re: Article research

> rage and how it is becoming as pervasive and dangerous as road rage. Your
> thoughts on the following questions will be greatly appreciated:

> What is the clinical definition of parking lot rage?

There is no clinical definition or parking lot rage or even road rage though I expect there will be in the future. Also, there is a total absence of research in this area thus far.

> Why does it happen, who is most susceptible to it psychologically, and
> how can it be prevented?

Parking rage, like road rage, is due to a breakdown or weakening of people's internal control of their emotions in public places. This erosion is part of a general problem in our society in relation to anger and how we express anger. We learn as children to express anger and disrespect and this tendency is strengthened as we grow up. There is a mental attitude that encourages cynicism towards authority and moral virtues such as kindness, tolerance, and compassion. When we get challenged in parking lots by someone's else's actions, we feel enraged. Many people lack the skills to cope with this rage and so they express it through aggressive or violent behavior.

> Does parking lot rage signify a coarsening of attitudes and an erosion
> of public etiquette?

Yes. George Washington used to say that civility is the glue that holds our nation together. Unless we teach our children the coping skills of how to deal with emotions in public places, parking lot rage, road rage, air rage and other forms of rage will continue to increase.

Leon James
DrDriving

 

SHIFTING ROAD RAGE INTO PARK

By Jenifer McKim

Knight Ridder/Tribune
January 28, 2001

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- Philip Putman didn't mean to steal someone's spot when he parked in a Costco parking lot in Fountain Valley, Calif., last spring. He believes he got to it first.

But three youths in a competing car thought otherwise. They screamed and swore at Putman before driving off. Later, Putman found that his car hood and door were severely scratched, or "keyed,"--a $1,000 repair.

"I was outraged," said Putman, a Huntington Beach, Calif., attorney who unsuccessfully offered a $500 reward for information. "How could young people be that vicious and ruthless over a lousy parking space?"

Some call it "parking lot rage," a low-speed form of "road rage" in which drivers cannot resist retaliating when someone dings their door or they believe they have been wronged in the pursuit of choice parking.

Police and residents say a battle over a spot can turn into bad words, vandalism and fisticuffs. One Tustin, Calif., woman even admitted that she got her 9-year-old nephew to urinate on the door handle of a woman who stole her spot.

It's unclear how bad the problem is because people such as Putman often don't bother to report the incidents. But police officers at several Orange County malls said they get called in to break up squabbles two or three times a week.

Santa Ana, Calif., Police Officer Don Wolfram says he is called in to mediate battles over spots about three times a week, finding that women are involved most of the time. He just tries to calm people down, he said. Sometimes they want each other arrested.

"I have had incidents where people start throwing blows at each other," Wolfram said. "I tell people to take a deep breath; there is plenty of parking."

Irvine, Calif., Police Sgt. Dave Mihalik said he also gets two or three such calls a weekend. Recently he said two motorists reported finding their tires slashed after an altercation over parking spots.

He said people will snake through the parking aisles for spaces nearest the stores and eateries though many spot are available while farther out.

"It is human nature. People want to park close," Mihalik said. "It seems they don't realize there is a lot of parking available to them."

Parking lots can bring out the worst in people, some psychologists say.

Dr. Leon James, a University of Hawaii professor and the author of "Road Rage and Aggressive Driving," recalled a study showing that people who know someone is waiting for their spot will take several seconds longer to pull out, just to "reassert their freedom."

James, who has a Web site called DrDriving.org, says 90 percent of all drivers express hostility. And hostility is on the rise because parents pass down their reactions to their children, he said. To avoid problems, he recommends parents show remorse when they express hostility on the road.

Also people need to plan ahead to give themselves extra time to avoid getting frustrated, he said.

"If you are in a hurry and frantic, you are already in a situation where you are going to lose," James said.

To be sure, many people navigate most parking lots with no problems. Many are considerate and civil. Those who have gotten into conflicts, however, say it is a memory that stays with them. And some say they can't really square the way they handled the situation with how they view themselves.

People who called the Orange County Register spoke of many parking-lot confrontations, some that resulted in bad words, others in keyed cars and some in assaults.

Some stories fall into the surreal. Christie Bartusick of Huntington Beach said she had an altercation with a woman who accosted her after she refused to give up her spot at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. Bartusick said she clearly reached the coveted spot first but the woman asked her to move, explaining she was 20 minutes late for a doctor's appointment. At first, Bartusick thought it was a joke, but before she knew it, she said, the two women were tussling on the concrete.

"I was in shock. I yanked my arm back and I said, `Don't you dare touch me,"' said Bartusick, who was also running late. "She was desperate for a parking spot and thought I would give up mine."

(...)

 

PARKING RAGE Nov. 15, 2000

Phila. Motorist Killed in Road Rage Shooting

Witnesses Help Police Find Suspect

AP Philadelphia police examine car of motorist who was shot to death Tuesday.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- An 18-year-old man was shot to death Tuesday after getting into an accident with another driver pulling out of a parking space on a downtown street, police said.

Witnesses said the gunman sped off in his car, hitting several parked cars.

Kevin Holmes was killed, police said. A woman and her daughter who were passengers in his car were not injured.

Witnesses who took down a license plate number helped police find the suspect's vehicle; the suspect was in a house near where the car was parked.

Stephen Palmer, 25, was arrested and charged with murder, possession of an instrument of crime, weapons violations, two counts of reckless endangerment and narcotics violations.

(...)

Police Capt. Thomas Lippo said Palmer's car was clipped by Holmes's station wagon as Palmer pulled out of a parking space. Palmer then got out, approached Holmes and allegedly shot him in the chest.

(...)

original here

 

November 21, 2000

The Motorist's New Worry:
Parking Rage

By Bob Levey

Road rage you know about. But parking rage? Yes, alas, it cropped up recently in separate incidents in the suburbs.

In Bethesda, Millie Bell parked in a "No Parking Any Time" space just off River Road, near Walt Whitman High School.

"I just needed to run into a school for a few minutes, and there were no legal spaces," Millie said. She decided to try her luck.

Millie's major tactical mistake was parking so close to the car behind her that the driver couldn't get out easily. "So he punctured all four of my tires" with an ice pick or something similar. Then "he left a note saying he had done so," Millie said.

The police have the note and are investigating. Meanwhile, Millie got "educated" to the tune of $560, which is what four new tires cost her.

Never again will she park illegally, she swears. But she thinks the punishment didn't fit the crime this time around.

(...)

Maybe the cat walked across this guy's chest at 4 a.m. and awakened him. Maybe his spouse growled at him. Maybe he has been "dissed" by many drivers in many ways over the years, and this tipped him over the edge. Maybe all of the above.

"I know it would never have happened if I hadn't broken the law," Millie said. "But couldn't he just have left the note?"

The next story tells you what happens in that case.

Betty Measura, of Olney, was shopping at Wheaton Plaza with her 8-year-old daughter, Britney. Betty just bought a Chevrolet Suburban. "It's as big as a tank," she told me, "and I am still having trouble parking it."

As she maneuvered her tank into a space, Betty thought she was midway between two white lines. "But I guess I was too far to one side," she said. That meant her "neighbor" had trouble getting his door open.

The aggrieved party slipped a note of protest under Betty's windshield wiper.

(...)

"The note was full of obscenities that Britney had never seen before," Betty told me. Naturally, the child asked her mother what certain words meant.

(...)

Wouldn't it be nice if every ticked-off parker took a 10-second timeout before he reacted with venom? Maybe it'll happen by the time Britney is a mother herself.

(...)

original here

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December 7, 2000

Snow rage sentencing

PHILADELPHIA Dec. 7 - The sentencing took place in a deadly case of snow rage. A man killed his neighbor during an argument over a parking space after a snow storm. NBC 10’s Cindy Hamill has more.

“WE JUST miss Michael,” said the victim’s sister Theresa Quinn. “They still get the chance to visit. We have to go to the cemetery.” Eight years in prison for the man who killed Michael Kirkpatrick won’t bring him back, so for his family, there is no satisfaction. “It’s been so difficult for my parents,” Quinn said. “My mother physically collapsed after the sentence. It’s been overwhelming.”

No satisfaction either for Sabrina Mockewich. She’s left now, to raise her new baby alone while her husband Louis serves his time. “I love my husband very much,” Sabrina said. “I want him back so we can be a family again. So that my daughter can grow up with her father.”

Two families torn apart over a snow shoveling incident last January. Mockewich and Kirkpatrick argued over snow being shoveled too close to Kirkpatrick’s truck. Both men had guns. Mockewich says he shot Kirkpatrick in self defense. The jury didn’t buy it. “You talk about these things,” said Assistant District Attorney Ed Cameron. “You don’t pull out guns and shoot each other for no reason at all.

People like Louis Mockewich shouldn’t be walking around with guns.” Defense Attorney Joel Moldovsky added, “This is a good man who was caught up in tragedy.” Quinn said. “I hope we can start to heal. I want to heal.” Sabrina said, “I guess the lesson would be to stop and think.”

original here

 

December 18, 2000

'Parking-lot rage' on the rise?

Competition for spaces can lead to
anger, confrontations and vehicle damage.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

PARKING LOT TIPS FOR THE HOLIDAYS

As the holiday countdown continues, mall parking lots and nearby roads become more congested. The Automobile Club of Southern California offers these tips:

•Be prepared. Allow more time to find a parking space. It may be easier to park farther away and walk. Park in well-lighted areas.

•Use headlights during the day so other drivers will see you.

•Be aware of your surroundings, especially when backing out of your parking space.

•Make sure your defroster or defogger is working. Make sure your windows are clear before backing out of your parking spot.

•Before going in to shop, remove any shopping carts that might get pushed into your car. You would probably be responsible for any damage from such incidents, and you would have to pay your insurance deductible.

•Be careful. If you are found at fault in a parking-lot crash, you might have to pay your collision deductible, and the crash could count as a point on your driving record.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By JENIFER MCKIM
The Orange County Register

(...)

Call it "parking-lot rage'' - a low-speed form of "road rage'' in which motorists cannot resist retaliating when someone dings their door or they believe they have been wronged in the pursuit of choice parking.

It's unclear how bad the problem is because people often don't report the incidents. But police officers at two large Orange County malls said they get called to break up squabbles several times a week.

The holiday season, with many tense, frantic shoppers competing for spaces, can accentuate the problem. Many local malls boost security to deal with the crush.

"The closer we get to Christmas, tempers are short,'' said Santa Ana police officer Don Wolfram, who has worked at MainPlace mall for eight years. "Everybody gets stubborn. They don't want to move an inch."

Wolfram, who mediates parking battles about three times a week, said women are involved most of the time. Sometimes they want each other arrested.

"I have had incidents where people start throwing blows at each other,'' Wolfram said. "I tell people to take a deep breath - there is plenty of parking.''

Irvine police Sgt. Dave Mihalik said he gets two or three such calls each weekend at Irvine Spectrum Center. Recently, two motorists reported finding their tires slashed after altercations over parking spaces.

Many mall visitors snake through the parking aisles for spaces nearest the stores and restaurants, while more distant spots go begging.

(...)

THE PSYCHE

Parking can bring out the worst in people, some psychologists say.

Leon James, a University of Hawaii professor and the author of "Road Rage and Aggressive Driving,'' recalled a study showing that people who know someone is waiting for their spot will take several seconds longer to pull out, just to "reassert their freedom.''

James, who has a Web site called DrDriving.org, says 90 percent of drivers express hostility. And hostility is on the rise because parents pass their reactions to their children, he said.

He recommends that parents show remorse when they express hostility while on the road.

Also, people need to plan ahead to give themselves extra time to avoid getting frustrated, he said.

"If you are in a hurry and frantic, you are already in a situation where you are going to lose,'' James said.

(...)

SCENES FROM THE FRONT

Most people navigate most parking lots with no problems. Most people are considerate and civil. But those who have gotten into conflicts say the memory stays with them.

Christie Bartusick of Huntington Beach said a woman accosted her after she refused to give up her spot at Fashion Island in Newport Beach.

Bartusick said she clearly reached the coveted real estate first but that the woman asked her to move, explaining she was 20 minutes late for a doctor's appointment.

At first, Bartusick thought it was a joke, but before she knew it, she said, the two were tussling on the pavement.

"I was in shock. I yanked my arm back and I said, 'Don't you dare touch me,''' said Bartusick, who also was late for an appointment. "She was desperate for a parking spot and thought I would give up mine.''

Marilyn McCullock of Garden Grove said she "went into a state of shock'' when a driver keyed her car after she accidentally nicked his. "It was just a horrible experience.''

(...)

 

 

TRAVEL AND PARKING BEHAVIOR IN THE UNITED STATES

GERARD C.S. MILDNER, JAMES G. STRATHMAN, and MARTHA J. BIANCO

ABSTRACT

This paper looks at the connection between the regulation of parking by cities, transit service levels, and travel and parking behavior in the United States. Travel behavior information comes from the 1990 Nationwide Personal Transportation Survey (NPTS) and the Federal Urban Mass Transportation Administration’s 1990 Section 15 Report. Data on the current state of parking programs in place in central business districts of the U.S. is identifed through telephone interviews of local officials responsible for parking policies from the twenty cities identified in the NPTS.

The travel behavior analyses and the data from the parking officials interviews were combined with data from the Federal Highway Administration’s Journey-to-Work data to group cities according to their parking policies, transit service, and ridership levels on a continuum of “Transit-Accommodating Cities” and “Auto-Accomodating Cities”. A key finding is that cities with interventionist parking policies, high parking prices and limited supply, frequent transit service, and a high probability that travelers will pay to park are the most likely to have high transit ridership figures.

 

MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF STATE

HANDICAPPER PARKING PERMIT APPLICATION

Michigan law allows free parking for eligible handicappers under certain, limited circumstances. Is unable to manage, manipulate, or insert coins or obtain tickets/ tokens in parking meters or ticket machines in parking lots or structures due to a lack of fine motor control of both hands Signature of Doctor X BFS- 108 (2/ 95)

APPLICATION BY AN ORGANIZATION

An organization which provides specialized services to handicappers may apply for and receive a handicapper certificate of identification for motor vehicles used by the organization when actually transporting handicappers. I am applying for a handicapper parking permit as provided in Public Act 300 of 1949 as amended.

REMINDERS ABOUT YOUR HANDICAPPER PERMIT: C

Displaying the parking permit while driving is illegal. PENALTIES Michigan Vehicle Code Section 257.675 prohibits: C Use of a handicapper parking permit unless the person named on the permit is driving or being transported. C Making a false statement to obtain a handicapper parking permit or free parking sticker, or committing a deception or fraud on a medical statement attesting to a handicap.

 

From Audioworld.com Discussions on Parking Rage

Posted by Chris on July 25, 1998 at 00:11:13:

What would you have done? (read on...)

Today, I pulled into he local supermarket parking lot in my five week old Santorin Blue 1.8TQS. Even with my 2 year old daughter with me, I still rationalized a longer walk to the store entrance and parked 30 feet from the nearest parked car to avoid the numerous individuals that must get pleasure banging their doors into the car next to them as they enter/exit their vehicles. I walked to the store and looked proudly back at my A4 thinking that the labor I had put into waxing yesterday really paid off.

I returned about 30 minutes later to find that the lot had filled up pretty quickly and....aaarrrrggghhhh!!!- a Black Ford Explorer had parked literally 10-12 inched off my driver side! After strapping my daughter into her carseat (from the passenger side), I walked around praying that the Ford owner had carefully exited without incident (I was hopeful given that the Explorer was almost as gleaming as my A4) - no such luck.... I bent down to find a chip about the size of a grain of rice missing from my door (aaarrrggghhh!!) and lo and behold - there was my precious paint sitting on the edge of the Ford's door... guilty.

So here were the options that ran through my head: 1) drive away and be glad that a chip the size of a grain of rice was the worst thing that happened that day, 2) wait for the guilty party and confront them with all of my wrath (and hope that they were not armed and wanted in 12 states...), or 3) find a sharp object, similar to the handy folding device supplied by Audi in my right hand, and get a little revenge.

What would you have done?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Posted by Steve B on July 27, 1998 at 12:25:33:

In Reply to: Parking Lot Rage (long) posted by Chris on July 25, 1998 at 00:11:13:

Once in a small town in Oklahoma, someone I know had this happen to them. With the culprit present, he took a hammer and dinged the other's vehicle. HE got arrested because what he did was on purpose, as opposed to the accident that the other was guilty of. The lesson is that it is dangerous to take matters into your own hands like that.

What I would do is take a picture (if you have a camera handy) and wait for the culprit and get his insurance information and file a claim. If s/he refuses, call the police.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Posted by pdw on July 27, 1998 at 12:24:04:

In Reply to: Parking Lot Rage (long) posted by Chris on July 25, 1998 at 00:11:13:

6 or 7 years ago I was driving my then still clean SE-R. I parked at the supermarket(being careful to park away from other cars) and went in and got some food. I then went to the video store next door. Right as I was walking out of the video store, I saw a new, light colored Buick pull right next to my car(it was about 150 yds away but under a light). This huge woman got out of the car and I knew she dinged my car. Sure enough, when I got to my car, my black paint was on her door and I had a fresh ding.

Luckily, I had a permanent marker in my car. So, on the side of her car, I wrote in big block letters "BECAUSE I AM OBESE, I NEED EXTRA ROOM TO GET OUT OF MY CAR, SO DON'T PARK NEXT TO ME".
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Posted by Chris on July 27, 1998 at 00:08:14:

In Reply to: Parking Lot Rage (long) posted by Chris on July 25, 1998 at 00:11:13:

Well, an eye for an eye (i.e., a small 1 cm gouge to be exact)...

If anyone ever asks, the "official" version is that my 2 year old daughter must have accidentally scraped her McDonald's Mulan action figure against the Explorer - kids will be kids....

Thanks for everyone's thoughts on the matter. Calling the police seems a bit futile esp since you then are on record with a complaint and if you are dealing with a real A-hole, they will then know where you live to do a "better" job later (and I can hear the cops now, "we can't do anything unless you actually saw the individual putting that tire iron through your windshield....") As for the more devious suggestions, very tempting, but also too risky in a parking lot with many people milling about.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Posted by J. Poteat on July 25, 1998 at 17:12:40:

In Reply to: Parking Lot Rage (long) posted by Chris on July 25, 1998 at 00:11:13:

...no matter how far out in a lot you park to keep your car safe some idiot always parks beside you even if there's ten spaces between you and the next car???
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Posted by Kirk on July 25, 1998 at 01:29:39:

In Reply to: Parking Lot Rage (long) posted by Chris on July 25, 1998 at 00:11:13:

Call the police and have them document it or it is your word against the Ford's. That's what I should have done once, according to my police officer friend. Oh well, lesson learned.

Kirk
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Posted by PhilJ on July 26, 1998 at 03:31:35:

In Reply to: Parking Lot Rage (long) posted by Chris on July 25, 1998 at 00:11:13:

Hm, some of my anti-social (car-less) friends have suggested...

1- Put some Vaseline or oil or other petroleum product on their wiper blades or windshield. That stuff is a pain to remove from glass (it just smears everywhere) and next to impossible with the wimpy washer fluid they put into Fords...

2- My Bologna has a first name... You could accidentally drop some luncheon meat, such as bologna or salami, onto the hood. In the hot sun, it would only take a half-hour or so to take effect. When the owner removes said meat, there will be a nice solid circle etched onto the hood...It's scary to think what happens in your stomach when you eat that stuff...

3- If his gas filler door is unlocked, take his gas cap. You could be malicious and put other stuff into their gas tank, but that might be taking things a bit far...

4-Stuff some produce into his exhaust pipes, like a banana or cucumber...

5- Take his rear license plate as a memento of the event.

6- You could accidentally lose control of your shopping cart, but while chasing after the cart you are unable to catch up to it before it rubs up against the door, leaving some unfortunate reminders of the incident...

Hmm, not that I've ever actually DONE any of these things, but I've come awfully close before...

-Phil

 

PARKING LOT RAGE
 

Advice from DrDriving

PARKING AGGRESSIVENESS SYNDROME

Parking aggressiveness is made of the following 15 behaviors. This Scale can indicate how aggressive is your parking persona and what type of parking personality makeover you need.

Ask yourself how many of these bad parking behaviors apply to you on a regular basis.

  1. feeling stress and impatience when parking in a crowded area
  2. having denigrating thoughts about other drivers or pedestrians
  3. acting in a hostile manner (staring, presenting a mean face, moving faster or closer than expected)
  4. parking much slower than the rest of the people
  5. not yielding or giving up when it's the polite thing to do
  6. driving on the left of a crowded lane where most cars drive on the right
  7. muttering at other drivers, pedestrians, or parking attendants
  8. touching or bumping into other cars leaving behind scratches or paint spots
  9. not apologizing when expected (after bumping by accident or coming very close in attempting to pass)
  10. making insulting gestures or leaving behind insulting notes
  11. hogging or blocking the lane, acting uncaring or unaware
  12. expressing pedestrian rage against a driver (scratching, insulting, or throwing something)
  13. feeling enraged at pedestrians or drivers and enjoying thoughts of violence
  14. feeling competitive with other drivers, hating to give something up

These 14 bad behaviors define the parking aggressiveness syndrome. They are all significantly intercorrelated. This means that if you do one of them regularly, you will also do many of the other 14 on a regular basis. You need a parking personality overhaul!

 

Parking Lot Rage

In addition to Road Rage, I frequently experience Parking Lot Rage, which occurs when I pull into a crowded supermarket parking lot, and I see people get into their car, clearly ready to leave, so I stop my car and wait for them to vacate the spot, and . . . Nothing happens! They just stay there! WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING IN THERE??!! COOKING DINNER???


When I finally get into the supermarket, I often experience Shopping Cart Rage. This is caused by the people - and you just KNOW these are the same people who always drive in the left-hand lane - who routinely manage, by careful placement, to block the entire aisle with a single shopping cart. If we really want to keep illegal immigrants from entering the United States, we should employ Miami residents armed with shopping carts; we'd only need about two dozen to block the entire Mexican border.

What makes the supermarket congestion even worse is that shoppers are taking longer and longer to decide what to buy, because every product in America now comes in an insane number of styles and sizes. For example, I recently went to the supermarket to get orange juice. For just one brand of orange juice, Tropicana, I had to decide whether I wanted Original, Homestyle, Pulp Plus, Double Vitamin C, Grovestand, Calcium or Old Fashioned; I also had to decide whether I wanted the 16-ounce, 32-ounce, 64-ounce, 96-ounce or six-pack size. This is WAY too many product choices. It caused me to experience Way Too Many Product Choices Rage. I would have called Tropicana and complained, but I probably would have wound up experiencing Automated Phone Answering System Rage (" . . . for questions about Pulp Plus in the 32-ounce size, press 23. For questions about Pulp Plus in the 64-ounce size, press 24. For questions about . . . ").

My point is that there are many causes for rage in our modern world, and if we're going to avoid unnecessary violence, we all need to "keep our cool." So let's try to be more considerate, OK? Otherwise I will kill you.</TT>

(c) 1998 Tribune Media Services.

- Dan Stober
Salt Lake City

 

9 June 1999 In Australia....

ROAD RAGE AGAINST PARKING OFFICERS

A spate of assaults on council parking officers has council staff and councilors up in arms.

According to Councilor Darren Ray, the chair of the council’s services and finances committee, parking officers are considered fair game by both residents and visitors to Port Phillip.

"Every day, council parking officers get verbally abused. They’re spat on. Workers on building sites throw nails and rocks from great heights at them. In Loch Street, St Kilda, residents even threw syringes at them from the roof of a building. At night, when parking officers work in pairs, they still get harassed. They get followed by groups of people coming from restaurants and cafes on foot or even in cars," he said.

However, Cr Ray stated, the harassment has recently escalated into direct physical violence.

"Last year in Carlisle Street, an irate car driver tried to run over a parking officer, slightly injuring him. This year, car drivers have extended their ‘road rage’ to four assaults on parking officers. In two separate incidents on Pier Road and Acland Street in St Kilda, the same parking officer was assaulted. As a result of injuries sustained in the Pier Road assault, he spent two days off work.

"A driver in York Street, St Kilda, tried to run over a parking officer though fortunately only his watch, and not his body, was smashed up. In a further incident in Victoria Avenue, Middle Park, a car driver punched another parking officer in the face and wrestled him to the ground. Another parking officer had to come to his rescue. The police are currently investigating charges against the driver," he said.

Cr Ray said that the persecution and assault of parking officers was totally unacceptable.

"None of us likes getting parking fines and I accept that some people don’t agree with various parking restrictions. However, people need to understand that parking officers don’t set policy. They’re simply doing their jobs. If residents or visitors have a beef with council policy, they should take it up - peacefully, I should add - with the people who do make policy - the councilors," he said.

Cr Ray called on anyone seeing a parking officer being assaulted to immediately contact the council and/or the police.

"Australians, as a whole, do not see violence as a solution. Road rage, whether it directed at other drivers or parking officers, has no place in this country, or for that matter, this municipality. I know parking is a perennial problem in Port Phillip but an atmosphere of violence does not assist when considering options to improve parking," he said.

Cr Ray said he was concerned about the extent to which visitors exacerbated parking problems.

"Visitors to our many cafes and bars have a tendency to flout parking laws and arrogantly disregard the rights of local residents. It means that people who live here can’t park in their own streets. I know of locals who’ve driven around for forty-five minutes and ended up in tears because they can’t park within cooee of their own place," he said.

(...)

original here

Google
 

Parking Lot Rage

In Canada

WATERLOO - A gunman eventually surrendered after a bizarre chase that sent children diving for cover in a suburban neighborhood. The chain of events began in late afternoon after three friends encountered the man while cutting through a parking lot. The three claimed they had had a previous incident with the man after being involved in a near miss car accident in the same parking lot. The second time round, the men claimed the trouble started again when the man spotted them and hopped into his own car. He then allegedly chased them through residential streets in the area of Conestoga Mall, the two cars racing a breakneck speeds while children jumped out of the way. The alleged wildman tried to attack them with a metal bar and pepper spray through the car window while the three men called police on a cell phone. After seeing the police, the man exploded again, holing himself up in a Davenport Road apartment with a loaded gun for about four hours before surrendering to police without incident.

 

In Israel

The Israeli tabloids graphically presented the situation -- twelve snapshots of a group of people remarkable for nothing except for their unremarkability.

These were people who had been killed in the past two weeks in various petty brawls and fights. While the Jewish people have their share of criminals, it was always thought to be mainly white-collar crime and petty thievery. The idea that murder and violence could occur with such frequency shocked many Jews. Even worse, it was murder for petty reasons -- someone was killed in a fight over a beach chair, another over a parking space, and yet another in a silly pub argument.

 

Parking Today

March, 1999

   Parking Rage

(...)

Parking rage, the step brother to road rage. Those on the receiving end cause it by parking less than perfectly in a space and experience it through a "ding" on the car door, a good cursing out if it’s a face-to-face encounter, or a note, hastily written on scrap paper, usually trying to identify one’s ancestry.

And parking rage seems to be on the rise. Just as we hear about road rage incidents from time to time, parking rage is now being reported in the mainstream media. Leslie Baldacci, a writer for the Chicago Sun Times, has not only reported on it, she’s experienced it.

"After parking just a little off center because the guy next to me had done the same," she says, "I returned to my car to find a note on the windshield. ‘Dear A E: Why don’t you try parking between the yellow lines so I can get into my car through the driver’s door."

"Upon reading the note, I was struck blind by anger and started to fire off a reply, on a wrinkled receipt, written in eyeliner: ‘Whatsmatter? Butt too big to hop over the stick shift?’ She says that the note will be exhibit "B" in her mental competency hearing.

Baldacci and others tell PT that parking rage, like road rage and its predecessor, urban rage, is the result of too many people (cars) in too small a space. It’s no surprise that crime rates soar in cheek-by-jowl public housing where thousands of people are crammed into tiny apartments in giant buildings. The pressure builds and builds.

Parking rage has similar roots but also has an added dimension. People have a tendency to react differently when they feel there is a certain amount of anonymity. The car provides that cloak of secrecy. While you would probably never consider acting on your rage in a group of people you know, it’s somehow easier to let it out when you are secure in your car, with no recourse available to others.

Psychologists give us fancy words, but the gist of it is that when we get in our cars, our purpose is to get to our destination. We may become frustrated by traffic and weather, and be concerned about what will happen when we reach our destination. Upon arrival at the parking facility, all this frustration, so nicely kept in check, comes

Rage out when we can’t find a space, or the space is too small, or the space we have been stalking for ten minutes is grabbed by an interloper.

Is there anything the industry can do about parking rage? Baldacci thinks so. Her frustration was with a garage where more cars were being crammed in than it was built to hold. (Construction made the garage smaller, so an enterprising operator closed the crossovers to add space and began parking cars along walls.) To compound the problem, the elevators didn’t work. The result was chaos. "You had to drive all the way to the roof just to get out of the garage. When you park in a garage, you have an expectation that you will be able to get out fairly quickly."

(...)

Is parking rage the responsibility of the parking facility owner or operator? Probably no more than road rage is the responsibility of the state highway commission. However, when you see construction starting at 7 a.m. (at the height of rush hour), you probably have a few well chosen words for the planners who came up with that schedule.

Tips for Toning Down the Rage

If you have construction or refurbishment underway, bite the bullet and don’t try to put more cars in the garage than is comfortable. You would do better to offer the contractor a little bonus for finishing ahead of schedule.

Put staff in the garage during peak traffic times to direct cars to available space.

Take a look at your facility. If the spaces are too small, restripe. Tommy Feagans of Walter P. Moore tells us that you can actually park more cars if you restripe and reduce the number of spaces. If the turning radiuses are too tight, people won’t try to go to the higher levels and will simply park somewhere else. He has case after case where a 10 or 15 percent reduction in the number of spaces has resulted in an INCREASE in the number of cars using the facility.

Keep the elevators working (and clean). There is nothing more frustrating than having to climb eight flights of stairs after a day’s work.

Take a look at your exit processing. Look beyond the curb to the street. Too many operators say that their system runs faster than the street can take the cars. Often a discussion with the traffic staff at the city can affect a change in the timing of the lights at the corner and make your life much easier. Perhaps a traffic control officer can drop by during rush hours to assist, or one of your staff can be trained to direct traffic.

Open all of the exit lanes during rush hour. Get in the booth yourself if necessary. An extra lane open for 30 or 45 minutes can make a tremendous difference.

Set up express lanes for monthlies so the guy looking for his wallet doesn’t hold up 20 cars who are using cards.

Have an employee walk up the line of people waiting to pay to "pre-compute" their tickets. Tell the people how much their ticket will be so they can have the money ready. They will appreciate that as much as the person behind them.

Be sure all the lights in your garage are working and the walls are clean. Paint the ceilings white to reflect more light down on the cars. Nothing makes people feel better than a light and airy facility (it will help your security, too).

Don’t overdo the "niceness." Drivers want efficiency, speed, and competency. A believable "thank you" at the end of the transaction is perfect. "Have a nice day" or "have a good one" is great, but after everyone you have met today has said it to you, the last person you will see (probably your exit attendant) might be just a little too much.

original here

 

The following excerpts related to parking are from our new book


Road Rage and Aggressive Driving: Steering Clear of Highway Warfare

by Dr. Leon James and Dr. Diane Nahl

A Philippine resident wrote to us in July 1999:

You hardly hear complaints here about road rage because we got so used to it that it seems normal. Things like swearing, tailgating, reckless driving, and cutting off. Yesterday, a man was sentenced to death for killing a pregnant woman due to a dispute about a parking space. People feel helpless about road rage since there is not much we can do...I refuse to drive here due to the stress I observe on the road. I cannot handle it. In order to control the traffic, our government has implemented the "odd-even" scheme for driving on alternate days. One of my aunts who now lives in Pennsylvania visited us two years ago and she was so affected by the traffic situation that I saw her praying the rosary while we were in the car. That’s how bad it is here.

The Expanding Age of Rage

There are indications that the culture of disrespect is opening new venues for expressing anger. As usual, media mavens have a finger on new cultural developments and the word is out: Rage is Spreading! Many headlines proclaim:

Parking Lot Rage
Sidewalk Rage
Surf Rage
Air Rage
Neighbor Rage
Shopping Mall Rage
Workplace Rage
Cafeteria Rage
Customer Rage
Keyboard Rage
Desk Rage


In Ottawa, CFRA open-line host Lowell Green tells listeners he is fed up with picketing Corel Center cleaners delaying his entry into the arena's parking areas. He adds, "The next time it happens, I'm going to run over them." However later, Mr. Green said his comments were "just satire."

Parking rage

On April 2 [1998], a Cal State student almost died over a parking space. The suspect, whose name is being withheld, became involved in a verbal argument with another student, who was driving a Porsche, after parking his GMC truck. The driver of the Porsche then stabbed the GMC owner in the torso four times as he walked away.

A new permissiveness frees more people to become openly enraged in a wide variety of public places, sometimes in jest, sometimes in horrific mayhem.

The Anger Choice

According to Deborah Tannen, anger is the main method people use to "negotiate" dominance levels in power games.12 Carol Tavris describes Darwin's theory of human aggression as a biologically programmed response no different from the rage-reflex of animals when they are attacked or threatened.23 Tavris thinks this model is too simplistic for humans since threat does not always elicit anger, and anger does not always elicit aggression. Humans have mediating processes such as judgment and choice that interrupt automatic connections. In this view, expressing anger is not a triggered response but a learned habit. The habit specifies when anger can be expressed as aggressiveness, and when it must be inhibited or hidden. Anger is a habit that can be modified to restore human choice in provocative situations.

Even if it feels as though anger is automatically aroused, it does not automatically lead to aggressiveness. The connection between anger and aggressiveness is mediated by norms and principles, by what the person feels is or is not allowed. If a philosophy or value system permits the expression of aggressive behavior, and if the conditions are right, the person might act out when angry. The aggressiveness in road rage is a behavioral strategy used to enforce domination of a stranger; someone who is seen as deserving punishment for having inconvenienced us, or for having placed us in danger out of stupidity, incompetence, or a lack of consideration or caring.

Daniel Goleman writes that anger "is energizing, even exhilarating."24 Venting rage behind the wheel feels like a catharsis--"Isn't it better for me than holding it in?" Does this justify hostility or uncivility? While long held popular belief says that venting anger is healthy, recent medical research concludes that venting instead increases stress and depresses immune system functioning.25 The new message is: anger kills.26 However, culture has inherited the ill effects of the "venting is good" model. Goleman points to the "seductive, persuasive power" of anger, of the illusion that it is uncontrollable, triggered automatically, that we're not really responsible when it just comes out.24 But actually, the "triggering" stimulus is merely the sudden realization of physical endangerment. Someone cuts us off and we hit the brakes. As the foot moves, the brain reacts simultaneously and prepares for the worst. For a few moments we experience overwhelming physical sensations. This is the moment of choice.

Drivers Behaving Badly on TV

A crucial question many have asked in the past decade is, why has road rage exploded in the 1990s? Traffic congestion has existed since the 1950s and has worsened since the 1970s. The root of road rage is a "culture tantrum" because the way we express anger and when we do it is culturally condoned or sanctioned. What has occurred that has promoted the cultural norm of highway hostility? Psychiatrist John Larson attributes this new attitude to "the Road Warrior type movies of the 1980's" and today's television that teaches impressionable individuals that "Vigilante behavior, even that which harms others, is virtuous, associated with heroic figures, and easy to do."3 These entertainments reveal that the readiness to use violence is a cultural habit.

One of our students' favorite research activity is observing popular television programs and taking notes on scenes that portray drivers behaving badly:4

July 17, 1997, 6:17pm: The Simpsons (adult cartoon series):

First incident: The three kids were watching TV, the cat was trying to kill the mouse and as the cat was running from the house, the cat runs onto the road and gets run over by a speeding truck. The Simpson kids watching the show are laughing very hard at this scene.

Second incident: Homer Simpson is late for work again and speeds into a public parking stall, almost hitting a pedestrian. Homer doesn't slow down, he just chases the pedestrian until the person moves out of the way. Homer yelled at the pedestrian for being in the way.

Two researchers at Penn State university observed people in a shopping mall parking lot as they were leaving.2 They noticed that departing drivers (both men and women) took eleven seconds longer to vacate their spot when someone else was waiting for the space than when no one was there. Even the implication of "pressure" by just waiting can evoke resistance. Instead of hurrying up, they tend to take longer. This power-based behavior is counterproductive because it takes longer for them to leave and engenders hostile reactions. So why do people do it? They investigated the issue further by sending in cars driven by a student who honked at the departing driver. Drivers who were honked at took even longer to depart than drivers who were not honked at. The researchers attribute this "territorial behavior" to people's desire to proclaim rightful occupancy of a space. When this right is questioned by a hostile honking motorist the tendency is to reaffirm rightful ownership, and this is accomplished by taking even longer to vacate the place because the power struggle is the focus.

Even a simple trip to the shopping mall can be upsetting when one is emotionally unprepared to handle crowded conditions:

On a Saturday afternoon during a sale at the mall, I arrived at the parking structure. Glancing at all the cars circling round and round looking for parking made me cringe. I knew I was doomed. As usual, I started off in my calm, cool, and collective manner. However, after circling around 15 times looking for parking, my blood pressure began to rise.

After circling a few more times, my patience ran very thin and once again I became angry and hostile. I felt like eliminating all the people in sight. I kept thinking: "Why does everyone have to shop at this mall at this particular time?" It frustrated me that I couldn't start shopping until my car was properly parked, but there were no spaces available. Every time I saw people walking to their car, it was located behind me. Or else they would just drop off their packages and head back for another round of purchasing. My two famous quotes for the occasion: "This is CRAZY!" and "I hate these people!" I was wasting my time looking for parking space when in fact I could've been looking for a nice pair of jeans.

She's obsessed by the idea that she's wasting time finding a parking space rather than making purchases. Unfortunately, her mind has set up a no-win situation that is torturous. She separated the act of the purchase from the act of parking and this illogical distinction only allowed her to torment herself. Verbal road rage seldom works to achieve goals and increases strife.

Our studies reveal that these feelings and responses are far more common than we'd like to believe. In many cases, verbal road rage gave way to epic road rage:

As the traffic slowly progressed, I would become violent to a high degree--pounding my steering wheel, stomping on the floor, and talking out loud to myself.…Although my actions resorted to hitting and kicking objects, they were very mild in comparison to my thoughts. Glaring at the stream of cars ahead of me, one thought would constantly run through my mind: "What the hell is taking so long?!"

Off of this question branched many abhorrent, detestable thoughts about the construction workers and the motorists around me. Anything that hindered me from my final destination was cussed and cursed at repeatedly. No longer was I the passive nice person. I was now an aggressive competitive road maniac! I would never let a person cut in front of me, and instead of stopping in time, I blocked intersections when my light turned red. When I needed to change lanes, I would eagerly butted my way in. The drivers had no choice but to let me in or collide with me. As I drove in this state my thoughts gradually became worse. All the harsh thoughts would then become vocal. If words could kill, everyone around me would have been dead. Finally, I did it, I chased a woman who cut me off into a parking lot, got out and beat on her window, screaming at her. I tried to open her door, but it was locked. She was terrified, and people were watching, so I quit after a few minutes. (Middle-aged woman)

Traffic obsessions are exaggerated by mental isolation in heavy traffic when drivers can avoid normal social relations. Air conditioning with closed and tinted windows contributes to a sense of detachment. The artificial social isolation of driving creates a psychological condition that can foster irrational thoughts, feelings of paranoia and insane impulses ("…I chased her…got out and beat on her window, screaming at her….tried to open her door…").

A random sampling of recent reports on the Internet of epic road rage incidents reveals a striking pattern of escalating violence on roads across the country. Take this series from a city famous for orderliness and restraint, Salt Lake City, Utah. Utahns once were incredulous over reports of freeway shootings in places like New York or Los Angeles. Now, road-rage reports commonly have a Salt Lake City dateline. In 1999 there were a dozen freeway shootings there, these among them:3

In February, a 49-year-old father of five, was shot to death by another motorist on the 7200 South on-ramp. Hours later, police arrested a 20-year-old man, who they say sideswiped the victim's car before shooting him. He has been charged with capital homicide.

In March, a man fired shots into another car traveling on Interstate 15, striking two occupants in the hands. That same man was charged with brandishing a weapon a few days later at another motorist after a minor altercation in a parking lot.

Aggressive Competitor

Competition is seen as a good thing in America, but lethal and dangerous on the road, taking others' lives into hands, risking others and self. Some drivers are so competitive that they need to be in the lead at all times, and feel a sense of loss and rising anxiety if another car passes them. There are those who, when they make a mistake, are deeply embarrassed and worry about what other drivers might think. But when other drivers make a mistake, it's their turn to ridicule them. We do this automatically, by cultural habit and childhood upbringing. Getting a parking space brings a sense of victory and superiority, while missing one leaves can leave us with a sharp sense of personal defeat. It's not unusual for someone to get depressed over losing a parking space to a competitor shopper. But we pay a high price for this type of gaming. Compulsive competitiveness is an ego-centered orientation that shreds everyone's nerves and by provoking a simplistic game of winners and losers, it contributes significantly to driver rage.

Territorial Defense in Parking Lots: Retaliation Against Waiting Drivers, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 27, No. 9, May 1998 issue.
To try this exercise, take a moment upon entering your vehicle to designate that trip as "special." This exercise requires you to pretend to be nice immediately after feeling aggressive. The object is to pretend to be cool whenever you feel crazed by the traffic or some maddening incident. Commit yourself to performing this exercise for the duration of one entire trip. Study the two columns in the chart until they're familiar and you can translate each entry into something suitable to your experience.

Inner Power Tool: Acting As-If
Oppositional Driving Style
When you say or think this:
Supportive Driving Style


Say or think this immediately after:

Nope, you can't come in here. We're all in a hurry, not just you. You'll just have to wait. We're all in a hurry, but there's room for one more. Go ahead, be my guest.

Sorry I can't let the whole line in.

Look at that fool. Forgets to turn off the signal for miles. Where is his head anyway? Oops, there's a booboo. You gotta stay alert when you drive. Hope it won't cause an accident.

Oh, great! Just what I wanted to do, sit in traffic and crawl inch by inch. Come on air head, the light is green. Move, go, go! Slow today. Well, I can fidget or I can relax. Either way I'll get there the same time. Might as well cruise. How about some relaxing music?

Hurry up, idiot. Stop holding up traffic like that. I'm going to honk at him. I feel like honking but it's not worth the trouble. Besides, honking might slow him down even more or startle him and cause a crash.

I'm going to make that light. Come on, come on, get out of my way. Turning yellow...I can still make it if I step on it. All right, I'm not gonna make this one. Slowing down gently. I can relax for a few moments.

No way are you taking that parking place. What, are you serious? I've been waiting here. It's mine! Hey, bonehead, stop that. Stop! Hey! Now that's not fair. I've been waiting here. Oh, well, it's not worth a fight. Don't be rude to the rude. Besides, it's possible she didn't see me. I'll get one soon. There's always someone leaving.

One driver who tried this exercise wrote:

When I came up behind a slow moving vehicle, I would say to myself out loud, "You are obviously not in a rush. That's O.K., I'll simply get around you." I had to say that to keep my head from filling up with "Get the !@#* out of my way!" I used the "as-if" approach, namely, forcing myself to act tolerant and accepting even though I felt like doing the opposite. By acting and talking in a tolerant way, I was hoping to end up feeling tolerant and accepting. I know this is what I'd like to truly feel rather than hostile and angry.

In some situations this worked fine, but as soon as he became anxious about the traffic, his patience and understanding of others literally went out the window. "If I hit heavy traffic or was running late, the whole world turned into fools who couldn't drive and shouldn't." Nevertheless, he persisted in his attempts.

Exercise: Identifying Wrong Assumptions

As additional practice in debunking oppositional thinking, consider the following letter we received.

Hello, I was arrested for DUI because I was sitting in a parked car in a parking lot when a public safety officer came up behind me and started blowing the horn at me. I was not in an actual parking space but pulled off to the side where I was not blocking traffic. People had been passing me for half an hour when this guy pulled directly behind me and started blowing the horn.

I was not driving nor was I planning on it but was sitting in the driver's seat listening to a game with a friend. After blowing the horn back, he blew again. I then got out and asked him why the @#$* he was blowing the horn at me. He told me to move my car into a parking space. I got irate that he blew the horn to tell me, when he could have pulled beside me to ask me.

After he told me to move the car, I did. He then realized I was drunk and I had him really mad by now asking him why he was blowing the horn instead of going around if I was not blocking traffic. He then called in five other public safety officers, who weren't even there when it happened. All they knew was that I was drunk. They tested me, hand cuffed me, and took me to jail. I did lose my temper but I feel I was provoked. It has cost me $2000 and a company vehicle. I go to court next month. What do you think? (From a correspondent in 1999)

Now re-read each paragraph and identify the wrong assumptions this young man makes. When you're finished, check to see if you noted these points.

In paragraph one, he ignores the crucial distinction a safety officer must make between someone being parked in a designated parking space or not. He fails to empathize with the officer's duty and perspective, and considers only his own perspective that he was not blocking the way. In paragraph two, he fails to note the significance of his "blowing the horn back" as a gesture of non-compliance. He then compounds the oppositional behavior by leaving his car and confronting the officer in a belligerent manner. His focus is egocentric ("he blew the horn to tell me, when he could have pulled beside me to ask me") and ignores the officer's official role and legitimate behavior. He focuses on style and symbolism, not substance and function. In paragraph three, he has not backed down and continues to escalate, failing to focus on his legal state of intoxication. Even now, as he wrote the letter he has failed to come to terms with his oppositional thinking, its symptoms and consequences.

Road Rage Nursery

Road rage is a feeling of hostility that is inherited through the culture of disrespect condoned on highways. Motorists don't try to hide it because they are often proud of their aggressiveness, so it's common for children to hear parents and other adults swearing and demeaning other drivers:

While backing out of the parking space I heard a screech and felt a little bump when a woman and little girl in a Camaro appeared in my rearview. We all got out and I apologized, though I knew full well that she had been far away and had sped up to try to out run me, instead of waiting for me to leave the space. I felt miserable when her little girl started screaming at me, obviously repeating what she had heard her mother say about me in the car to excuse her own dangerous behavior, "Stupid lady! She's a stupid lady mommy! Why don't you watch where you're going stupid lady? You have to pay for this stupid lady!"

Kids do whatever their parents do, they say the things they hear older kids and adults saying, and their emotional reactions are shaped by mimicking adult feelings. Children soak up the norms of behavior in their environment, and that's how the road rage tradition is passed on to the next generation.

A car was backing out of a parking stall just as I was driving by. I was furious for a second, and felt the impulse of speeding up to it and stopping suddenly to make my tires screech. That should scare him right! But then I calmed myself and approached gradually, staying far enough not to scare or provoke the driver. I felt like I was being good and rational. Nice feeling.

Which ones apply to you?

____ When a driver in a parking lot tries to steal the space I've been waiting for, I get furious.

____ Getting out of the car and engaging in a verbal dispute, on a street or parking lot.

____ I take my time entering and leaving parking spaces, especially when someone is waiting for me

____ Illegally parking in a marked handicap stall

____ Parking or double parking where it's illegal

____ Taking a parking space unfairly or opportunistically

____ In parking lots I avoid being pushy and aggressive, to give others more of a chance, in case they need the stall more than I do. I tell myself, "Someone's always leaving, so I'll get one soon."

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Report Finds Aggressive Drivers Cause Most Pedestrian Deaths in New York

A report by Right of Way, a grassroots organization based in New York City, found that nearly 90 percent of pedestrian deaths in the Big Apple are caused by aggressive and careless drivers.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the organization obtained the crash reports of 1,000 pedestrian fatalities in the city from 1994 to 1997. Among their findings:

Driver's are at fault in almost 90% of pedestrian fatalities. Automobiles kill more than twice as many elderly New Yorkers as murderers do. Aggressive turning through crosswalks is the single-biggest known cause of pedestrian deaths. Speeding and driving through red lights and stop signs are the next most frequent causes. Cars kill 250 pedestrians in New York City each year, including a dozen on sidewalks. Buses kill three times as many pedestrians as heavy trucks, per mile driven. "The crux of pedestrian safety is making drivers respect pedestrian rights," said Charles Komanoff, the report's author. "Most pedestrian fatalities are caused by drivers' failure to observe traffic laws, particularly the laws protecting pedestrians."

The report was released in March amid claims by city agencies that pedestrian deaths fell sharply during a crackdown on drunk driving. However, crash reports analyzed for the study showed drunk driving to be a factor in only 4% of pedestrian fatalities during the four-year period studied, suggesting that drunk driving never was a major factor in pedestrian deaths.

The organization condemned city officials for failing to focus on what they described as the far bigger problem of aggressive, violent, or otherwise irresponsible driving.

For more information, write to: Right of Way, 305 Broadway, Room 402, New York, NY 10007

 

Copyright 1998, The Daily Titan
 

'Parking rage' leads to stabbing at CSUDH CRIME:
A Cal State Dominguez Hills student was stabbed recently over a parking spot.

By NICK BRENNAN Daily Titan Staff Writer

It happens on every college campus. Students circle the parking lots waiting for an empty spot like vultures hovering over roadkill.

Anger builds as empty spaces are harder to find. "Stolen" spaces can heighten frustration to the point of seeking revenge upon those who took the spot. Maybe even to the point of killing. It may seem unlikely but it is not.

On April 2, a Cal State Dom-inguez Hills student almost died over a parking space. The suspect, whose name is being withheld, became involved in a verbal argument with another student, who was driving a Porsche, after parking his GMC truck. The driver of the Porsche then stabbed the GMC owner in the torso four times as he walked away, Public Safety Sgt. Susan Sloan said.

(...)

Cal State Dominguez Hills is not the only campus where this has happened. Last semester a Community Service Officer at Cal State Fullerton was almost run over while issuing a parking ticket to former student Stephen Tonner.

According to the police report, CSO Eddie Alvizar was trying to place a "boot"-a large metal device attached to the wheel to prevent a car with outstanding citations from being driven-to Tonner's car and impound it for five outstanding citations, the report said. Tonner claimed he was in a hurry and could not wait. He got into his car and proceeded to back up with Alvizar standing behind the car, Alvizar explained in his report.

Despite being ordered to stop, Tonner continued to back up, almost hitting Alvizar, then pulled forward and almost struck Alvizar again.

Tonner was arrested and found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon.

"Usually people cooperate," Public Safety Detective Tom Gehrls said.

"Most of the time it is vandalism to other cars. Usually someone decides to key a car or slash tires because they didn't get the parking spot."

(...)

Due to an increase in road violence in Toronto, police are starting to conduct curb-side psychology tests on drivers. The idea came into practice after one incident led to gunfire and another driver was almost beaten to death. The survey asks 10 questions about driving habits and contains a personal rating sheet.

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     Reclaiming the Sidewalks

 

 

 

PEDESTRIAN PERSONALITY MAKEOVERS

Quoting from one report:

Doing a pedestrian self-witnessing report has really helped me to focus on my pedestrian personality. I just never thought about it. I was walking around unconsciously, I guess. Once in a while I would catch a glimpse of myself in the reflection of a window and I would be surprised. Hey, that's me. Do I look like this? kind of thing. I observed myself under three conditions. One was the hallway and staircase of the building where I take an evening class. The second was our local shopping center. And the third was at the beach. I held my little cassette tape recorder in the hand and kept it under my chin. I had draped a jacket over my arm and was holding a brown bag. I tried to act like I was in a hurry and anxious to get somewhere. I didn't see anybody show awareness that I was talking into the tape recorder from time to time.

Hallway and staircase:

Well, here I am again. And here they are. Just look at that crowd. People everywhere. C'mon folks, stay out of my way please. Look at those two standing at the bottom of the stairway. C'mon you guys don't stand there. Here I come.

I was determined to pass through without slowing down even if I had to bump one of the guys. I felt justified because they were doing something wrong. They should not be blocking the way. There was plenty room for them to step aside against the wall. Why do they have to talk in the middle of the staircase entrance? I felt outraged and prepared to do violence.

OK, that was a bump. My shoulder against his. It felt like he gave way. I put muscle into it. I wanted him to feel a sharp pain for a few seconds. I'm not going to look behind. I'm not going to apologize. In a way I'm glad. I succeeded in teaching this individual a lesson without having to slow down and waste my time. Watch out here comes some idiot person walking down the wrong side of the staircase. I'm not gonna let him get away with it.

At this point I kept going up the staircase on the right hand side. I squared my shoulders and looked down, waiting for the collision. The other man tried to get down through my left side but two people were right behind me so he had to turn his shoulders vertically to squeeze through. He could've made it if I had also turned my left shoulder slightly. But I wouldn't. So he bumped me, expecting me to yield under the force. But I was ready. I pumped my chest and shoulder muscle and held my arm tight. The result was that he fell on top of the two guys that were right behind me. They had to steady themselves against the handrail in order not to go tumbling all the way down. Me I just kept going without looking back. There was an evil little smile of satisfaction on my face.

Shopping Mall:

This time I was not just acting like I'm in a hurry. I was. I stayed too long at the coffee shop. I could've left a few minutes earlier but I kept not leaving. Just looking at all the people doing basically nothing.

Damn. Damn. Damn. All these people are crowding in here. I can't understand why they have to be here at this hour. Usually this hour there is hardly anybody. Excuse me. Excuse me. I'm sorry. Excuse me. I can't stand it how slow they are moving. Look at that weird looking guy. Strange hair. Wow, look at that chick. I hate people who walk so slow. I hate people who stand in the way. Excuse me. They act like I don't exist. Excuse me. Oh no, I hate tourists who walk shoulder to shoulder three at a time. Excuse me can I go by please. Hello, excuse me.

Look at this couple coming at me on the wrong side of the sidewalk. Tourists. Don't they know you're supposed to walk on the right hand side. Why are they so stupid? Maybe in their own country they walk on the left, but here you're supposed to walk on the right you idiots. They should get lessons in walking when they come into the country. I'm not going to pass them on the left. I just can't do that. They've got to learn that in this place we walk on the right and we don't just block a public walkway. Damn.

The couple just kept coming at me expecting me to pass them on my left. There was plenty of room. So when we came up face to face I had to stop, and they had to stop. They both smiled and started laughing and talking in an agitated way. Of course I didn't know what they were jabbering about. Finally I stepped to my left and started walking again. I felt stupid and embarrassed. Why didn't I just go the left to begin with. Why did I have to make a big scene with them. Well, I wasn't happy with my pedestrian personality.

 

MORE RESEARCH ON DRIVER NON-COMPLIANCE

"Law Enforcement, Pedestrian Safety, and Driver Compliance with Crosswalk Laws" by John Britt, et al. in Transportation Research Record 1485 (Transportation Research Board, 2101 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20418)(1995). [TE7. H5 # 1485]

A four-year experiment with different approaches for enforcing the law requiring vehicles to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks had little impact on driver behavior.

Injuries from pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions were responsible for 5,500 deaths and thousands more injuries in the United States in 1993. Elementary school children, older adults over age 65, and those impaired by alcohol are especially vulnerable. The role of law enforcement is one of the least studied of all potential mechanisms for reducing such injuries, yet law enforcement is routinely recommended as one of the essential strategies for prevention. Limited traffic enforcement resources, competing departmental priorities, and a lack of awareness of the problem's significance are three common barriers to the enforcement of pedestrian laws. The presence of a strong pedestrian safety program within the Seattle Police Department and its willingness to collaborate with the Harborview Injury prevention and Research Center provided a unique opportunity to investigate the potential safety benefit of one type of enforcement.

In 1990 a coalition of safety groups, health professionals, citizen activists, and law enforcement representatives worked together to pass a stronger state crosswalk law. The law focused the attention of the public on pedestrian safety by changing the obligation of the driver from yield to stop when pedestrians were attempting to cross at legal crosswalk locations. The new law set the stage for a change in Seattle Police Department policy concerning pedestrian law enforcement as well as the initiation of a public information campaign.

Four separate traffic enforcement campaigns were conducted by the Seattle Police Department over the course of the 4 years. Although there were differences between each campaign, they all shared the following design features:

A specific area of the city was identified to receive emphasized enforcement. The enforcement consisted of increased officer presence in the designated area, with the purpose of citing drivers who violated the crosswalk law. A time line for the campaign was identified. The shortest campaign lasted 3 weeks; the longest lasted longer than 1 year. Sentinel intersections were identified within the area. These intersections were used to measure the compliance of drivers with stopping for crossing pedestrians. Data on historic traffic volumes and posted speed limits were also available for each location. Baseline measures of driver compliance were conducted before the initiation of the law enforcement efforts. Follow-up measures of driver compliance were obtained after the law enforcement effort stopped.

The authors have been unable to demonstrate that law enforcement efforts directed at motorist violators of crosswalk laws significantly or consistently increase drivers' willingness to stop for pedestrians. It appears that even with a high degree of commitment on the part of law enforcement, the expectations from such programs should remain modest. If intense enforcement efforts aimed at drivers do not elicit a positive effect at marked crosswalks, it is difficult to imagine that they will be effective in locations were the pedestrian right-of-way is more ambiguous. Although there are few standards by which to judge the relative enforcement intensities of these campaigns, the authors are unaware of any law enforcement agency that has conducted and evaluated a more focused effort.

It appears that other uncontrolled factors were responsible for the wide fluctuations in compliance. Day-to-day speed and volume fluctuations and their behavioral effects on drivers may have a greater effect on compliance than even the most aggressive enforcement campaign. Further evaluations should be encouraged. Such evaluations may be able to account for some of this variability and determine whether and to what extent there is a positive effect.

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