ROAD RAGE A GROSS LACK OF SELF CONTROL

  • Jenny Shipley
Transport

"Road rage is a gross demonstration of a loss of individual self control, and cannot and should not be justified or tolerated," Transport Minister Jenny Shipley said in a speech tonight.

"For New Zealand to have a bright future, New Zealanders must start taking more responsibility for their own behaviour. When they break the law they must be held responsible and dealt with firmly."

"The general public need to claim back the right not to be intimidated by the behaviour of a few. Road aggression, like domestic violence, requires the offenders to change their behaviour and to understand the community is sick of making allowances for indefensible events.

Mrs Shipley was speaking to "Club 22", a Wellington public speaking club.

"What's being described as "road rage" is simply incidents of motorists behaving aggressively or violently.

"I am concerned that the use of the label "road rage" will somehow give some credence to what is nothing more than unacceptable thuggery. It would be wrong to create the impression that there is any excuse for a vicious attack, regardless of where it occurs or what triggers it.

"The New Zealand police have conducted an exploratory study of 16 cases of road aggression, and found that there is no truth to the notion that getting behind the wheel of a car taps some primal urge to make an otherwise meek and mild person into an aggressive rager. On the contrary, they found drivers who vent their frustration in acts of aggression are likely to demonstrate that same lack of personal restraint in other areas of their life, with 73 per cent of the survey having previous criminal convictions.

"Around the world, aggressive driving is causing increasing concern and there is an urgent interest in finding solutions to the destructive social phenomenon.

"In the United States, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says reports of violent traffic incidents have increased nearly 7 per cent per year since 1990.

"In Britain, an AA survey found 62 per cent of drivers felt the behaviour of motorists had changed for the worse in recent years.

"Both organisations stress that "road rage" is no different from any other form of anger or aggression, simply because it involves road users.

"The New Zealand police aIso stress that it is no different from any other form of assault.

"Driver behaviour is an important factor in delivering a safe driving environment. Good driving requires tolerance and respect for other road users, and a healthy respect for the rule of law.

"As we enter our fifth year of economic growth, the challenge now facing this country is to tackle the issue of why some New Zealanders are still feeling left out and letting the rest of us down with their poor behaviour.

"The media have a special responsibility to see that anti-social behaviour such as road aggression is not condoned, normalised or portrayed in such a way as to encourage others. Such behaviour is socially unacceptable and must stop," Mrs Shipley concluded.